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Empires of Profit
Daniel Litvin
Price: $ 27.95

Through a series of captivating stories and perceptive analysis, Empires of Profit illuminates the critical political challenges facing multinationals today as they seek new markets and revenues in the developing world.

Daniel Litvin traces the clashes of culture and unexpected social problems encountered by a series of powerful companies past and present. Beginning with the English East India Company and Cecil Rhodes in southern Africa, Empires of Profit goes on to tell a range of stories, from the ruthless exploits of United Fruit in Central America (which helped give rise to the term "banana republics"), and the expulsion of US oil firms from the Middle East in the 1970s, to modern examples including Shell in Nigeria and Rupert Murdoch in China. In every chapter, the characters, incidents and the sometimes-shocking behavior that has helped shape much of today's anti-globalization sentiments are brought starkly to life.

But juxtaposed with the brutality are corporate acts of humanity, philanthropy and concerted attempts to foster economic development. As the author ably demonstrates, the seemingly clear-cut issue of what constitutes acceptable behavior is rarely as simple as it first appears.

Empires of Profit is an honest assessment of the often-complex issues faced by managers on the ground. It shows that, repeatedly through the ages, multinationals have failed to shape to their own advantage the social and political environment in which they operate.

The message is clear. If the lessons of the past go unheeded, the often turbulent course of history is likely to repeat itself -- leaving today's wave of investment in the developing world far less secure than most corporations would like to believe.

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