The Jemison Group Inc.
Mae Jemison is the first woman of color to go into outer space, a professor at Dartmouth College, and the president of the Jemison Group Inc., a Houston-based technology company. Somehow, she also manages to read 200 books a year. Her book of choice right now? When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten (Kumarian Press and Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1995).
Jemison read the book a couple of years ago while preparing for a class lecture. Recently, she dusted it off to reconnect with its mix of history and economic analysis of the structure of the global economy.
Why is this book relevant today?
It helps us rethink our global responsibilities and understand why people are pissed off at the United States.
What's one of the book's big ideas?
Our vision can't be dictated purely by free-market enterprise. There is a place for economic theory, but it should not encompass us or serve to tell us where we're going as a species ... I know I'm going to get into so much trouble here. You're probably wondering, Who the hell does she think she is? (laughing)
What did you get out of this book?
Much-needed clarity into the mysticism of economic theory. I've often doubted that corporations are the ultimate answer. This book said to me, "You're not alone." We tend to polarize people — you're either for corporations or you're against them. This book offers another perspective.
Learn more about When Corporations Rule the World on the Web (http://iisd1.iisd.ca/pcdf/corprule/corporat.htm).
A version of this article appeared in the March 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.