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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Career Connections

protesterThe top CEOs of the largest transnational corporations have similar backgrounds and corporate experience. In 2008 USA Today observed:

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One in every five CEOs running the 1,187 publicly traded corporations with a market value of at least $2 billion have at one time held a job at one of just 20 companies. One in every 10 CEOs worked at one of eight companies. One in 27 have earned a paycheck at one of these two leadership factories: General Electric (GE), with 26 CEO alumni; and IBM (IBM), with 18.

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However it is the top management consulting firms — McKinsey, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and the now-defunct Arthur Andersen — that produce the highest proportion of CEOs given their relatively smaller size (see table below). This is not surprising since these firms hire the most talented business graduates and then give them experience advising firms on how best to manage their companies. Those who gain a reputation for sound business management advice are then sought for top executive positions, including CEOs.

Such career connections create a powerful old boy network of contacts and shared values.

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Top Companies Producing CEOs


Company Employees CEOs* Odds
McKinsey 11,000 16 1:690
Deloitte & Touche
17,170 8 1:2,150
Baxter International 48,000 11 1:4,365
Pricewaterhouse-Coopers 47,750 10 1:4,775
Ernst & Young 103,000 12 1:8,585
Merrill Lynch 62,200 7 1:8,885
Motorola 66,000 7 1:9,430
Intel 88,100 8 1:11,010
Procter & Gamble 138,000 12 1:11,500
General Electric 300,000 26 1:11,540
Honeywell 118,000 10 1:11,800
Novartis 100,735 8 1:12,590
PepsiCo 168,000 13 1:12,925
Disney 133,000 9 1:14,780
ExxonMobil 106,400 7 1:15,200
Johnson & Johnson 122,200 8 1:15,275
IBM 366,485 18 1:20,360
AT&T 301,840 13 1:23,220
Citigroup 332,000 11 1:30,180
* CEOs of 1,187 publicly traded companies with market values of $2 billion or more as of October 2007.
Source: Del Jones, 'Some firms' fertile soil grows crop of future CEOs', USA Today, 9 January 2008.
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