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Julie Stanton - Associate Professor of Business, Penn State Brandywine

Book Title: Big Business, Poor Peoples: The Impact of Transnational Corporations on the World's Poor

Author: John Madeley

Book Description:

I chose this book for two reasons:  its accomplishments in tackling and explaining the power that corporations can have over the poor in developing countries, and the inspiring way that it captures much of what has motivated my own research.

I started my career at the World Bank, thrilled to be involved in projects that directly impact the world’s poor.  I was working on a Ph.D. in agricultural economics for largely U.S. reasons – our own small farmers have a hard time competing in the U.S. market – but ended up shifting my research toward developing country agriculture.  In particular, I grew to understand the agribusiness component of agriculture – mostly the post-harvest activities that involve money and product transformation – and saw how much was controlled by large corporations.

Nowadays, my research is more about alternative approaches to farming (organic, GMO-free, locally grown) as well as farmer tactics to seem “big” (e.g. via cooperatives) to the outside marketplace.  The current market system rewards many of the wrong decisions too easily, making some of these alternatives particularly challenging.  Large-scale corporations play a role in that, and John Madeley’s book really underscores how they have impacted the lives of millions around the world.

I read the original 1999 version, and am intrigued to get the 2009 edition to see what new information has been added.

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