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"Corporate death penalty" is a pretty good description of what was happened to IG Farben after WWII. That it took wilful participation in providing gas for the gas chambers to engender this exercise of the corporate death penalty perhaps demonstrates the reluctance to do so. (Or, in a less charitable interpretation, maybe the fact that IG Farben was broken up but ThyssenKrupp was allowed to continue demonstrates that it was really more about neutering the German chemical industry than about punishing Nazis and their collaborators.)

But there's a problem with the corporate death penalty. It is perfectly possible to kill the formal corporate name and formal corporate legal identity without killing the corporate culture. That culture can survive in the cadre of specialists and middle managers. And you can't simply disperse that cadre: It is the entity that operates the capital plant - if you simply dismantle the technostructure of a company, you will have to idle large portions of its capital plant and workforce while you assemble, train and integrate a new corporate organisation.

For a large corporation like BP, the cost of this operation in terms of lost production would be astronomical. And, much as we might wish otherwise, it's not like we can simply do without the stuff BP produces for a year or two while we purge its technostructure of cheapskate middle managers who put expediency over safety. That might be possible in the case of Morgan or Goldman or some other Wall Street parasite. But take BP's crude off-line, and oil prices go into the ionosphere.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 21st, 2010 at 12:40:19 PM EST

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