The organization, says Professor David Ewing of the Harvard Business School, is "the still-dark ghetto of American rights." In this volume, Ewing focuses on the business corporation and asks whether some of the rights Americans have against public government can be applied within the nation's "private" governments.
He favors such a development, and suggests that the law and corporate practice is moving in that direction. But so far only a step has been taken: "the organization is still an autocracy." Speaking generally, an employee gives up such rights as free speech and privacy during working hours - and even, at times, off the job when his activities agitate corporate management.
The case of Philip Woodroffe, a supervisor for Bethlehem Steel, is illustrative. He was fired for joining a civil rights league. So, too, when an employee "blows the whistle" on improper corporate activities: he will find himself out of a job and probably even blacklisted.
Ewing's book is a plea for "constitutionalizing" the corporation so as to provide due process of law to employees. It is an idea that has been around for at least three decades; its time may well have come. The present and next generation of constitutional lawyers increasingly will be concerned with the problems of private governance within both the profit and nonprofit sectors of the American economy. This book is essential reading for all concerned with the arbitrary use of power in an organizational society. (Dutton, $10)
- Arthur S. Miller