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The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary is critical of the modern-day corporation, considering it as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychatrist might evaluate an ordinary person.
This is explored through specific examples. The Corporation has been displayed worldwide, on television, and via DVD. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (ISBN 0-74324-744-2), during the filming of the documentary.
The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to effect specific public functions, to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. One theme is its assessment as a "personality", as a result of an 1886 case in the United States Supreme Court in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite[nb 1] led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The film's assessment is effected via the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV; Robert Hare, a University of British Columbia psychology professor and a consultant to the FBI, compares the profile of the contemporary profitable business corporation to that of a clinically-diagnosed psychopath. The documentary concentrates mostly upon North American corporations, especially those of the United States.
The film is in vignettes examining and criticising corporate business practices, to establish parallels, between corporate legal misbehaviour (malfeasance) and the DSM-IV's symptoms of psychopathy, i.e. callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect for the law.