Most of us spend more than one-third of our waking lives working for large, modern corporations: organizations where we do not know personally either those at the top or the bulk of those at the bottom of the organization's administrative hierarchy. This is a striking change from two centuries ago, when a productive organization of more than thirty was unusual, and one of more than three hundred an extreme oddity.
Why do so many of us work for large modern corporations? And what impact does working for large modern corporations have on our lives? The second is much too broad a question, and is moreover a question that I--a narrow-minded professional economist--feel unqualified to address. So I am going to focus on the economic side of the modern corporation. I am not going discuss the political or sociological or ethical implications of large modern corporations. I am not going to discuss their historical development, or the contrasts between different countries' styles of corporate life.