Suiting Themselves

Ruth Rosenbaum

Natural Resources Journal, 31, 2, May 2007, pp. 170-171

Sharon Beder, Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda, Stylus/Earthscan, 2006, 258 pages.

Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda is useful to readers beginning to understand economic globalization and to readers seeking an in-depth analysis of it. Sharon Beder writes about issues, complexities and systems of globalizationwithout technical language or rant. “Who benefits?” is the underpinning question. She traces who benefits and how they do it. She is an artist with her words and an educator with her text. Her writing moves quickly and does not drag the reader down.

Beder outlines how businesses come together to form associations not only by industry but more importantly by design for the future. She clarifies the difference between looking at a particular company or industry and looking at business as a whole, and the business goals and agenda for the future. She describes the funding of supportive research, education, the dissemination of issue papers, and the development of access to decisionmakers. The significance of the business approach cannot be minimized given the fact that parallels presenting an alternative view are often lacking.

Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda sets the role of the corporation within the context of the financial community, the markets and the large international financial institutions. It shows clearly the responses of corporations to the financial markets’ demands for everincreasing profits, although it omits direct reference to shareholder demands.

Beder’s analysis extends to the international finance community and the requirements for loans designed to force the borrowing countries to meet the needs of the corporate entity. She documents how these loans contribute to the movement of capital out of the borrowing country, and tracks the movement not only to entities in the US, or Europe, but also in Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America.

In analyzing privatization, Beder demonstrates that no greater efficiency results. Prices are often raised, with increased profits for the privatized institution. Segments of the population lose access because they can’t afford the charges, and the service deteriorates because revenues are used to increase the company’s profits rather than being reinvested in the local system.

Beder points out the complicity of governments, business councils, and corporations in the marginalization of a country’s citizens and the deconstruction of democracy, and in the movement from providing services to increasing corporate control and profit.

Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda is a valuable addition to the literature on globalization. Beder’s systemic approach, international coverage, and clarity of language provide crucial and accessible background for readers concerned about a global agenda that meets the needs of communities. Regular up-dates would be welcomed.

Ruth Rosenbaum
Hartford, CT

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