On corporations

Tuesday, 8 Mar 2005 [Monday, 19 Aug 2013]

Joe Edinburgh’s account of his getting laid off by his 11-year employer is a perfect example of why I’m weary of working in a corporation – a weariness rooted not primarily or even secondarily in that they will want to “own you body and soul like a serf” as Joe exasperatedly protests, huge reasons as these may be.

No, my main objection is that a corporation is not a family. Not only is it not a family, it is not even an entity in any sense other than the legal. To talk of a company having loyalty or trustworthiness is undue humanisation; a company is not a hivemind that takes unified decisions. Even if the superior you report to has a particular opinion of you and takes his decisions according to it, his say may still be overthrown by his superior. Each individual forming the corporation ultimately pursues their own goals, even as the fact that they are all employed by the same company may give them a shared general direction. Therefore, you cannot ultimately count on anything, regardles of your prior performance. In times of adversity, your good deeds or your personal engagement in furthering the company’s cause may be neither valued nor remembered.

Inevitably, investing yourself in a corporate job is a waste of soul. Taking such a job as something that puts food on the table is fine, but don’t get attached to it. Anyone not personally known in the upper echelon is expendable and exchangable, as Joe’s example demonstrates.

Update: David Brady makes the same point in Loyalty and Layoffs.