Abstract: The Developmental Dilemma: The International Basic Economy Corporation and the Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility, 1947-1980

Ken Durr


The International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC) was founded in the immediate postwar years in an attempt to apply U.S. capital and technical assistance to the problems of Latin America underdevelopment through the agency of a for-profit corporation. This paper examines the effect that this unusual founding mission, coupled with ongoing Rockefeller family control, had on the company from the years 1947 to 1980. Touching on the changing role of the multinational corporation in Latin America, the administrative challenges created by Nelson Rockefeller's personalistic managerial style, and Rodman Rockefeller's ultimately unsuccessful effort to more clearly define and extend IBEC's contribution to a movement toward corporate social responsibility that emerged in the 1960s, this paper concludes that ultimately, IBEC's longevity and its achievements and failings alike were possible only because the conflict between its conduct as a broadly-based "Rockefeller enterprise" and its establishment as a for-profit business never had been resolved.