Abstract: From Paternalism to Corporate Social Responsibility: Monopsony and Employer Benevolence in the U.S. Rubber Industry

Suzanne McCoskey


In this paper I consider the link between market power and employer benevolence, specifically a firm's ability and willingness to provide its workers amenities such as housing, retail services, and health care and recreation facilities, through the lens of the U.S. Rubber Industry. The discussion takes the form of two snapshots of the industry and tracks the difference in the language, expectations, and boundaries of the rubber companies' expenditures on their workers: the early years of the rubber industry in Akron (1900-1930) and the Bridgestone/Firestone rubber plantation in post-conflict Liberia (2003-present). The goal of the discussion is to link monopsony rents from initial self-described "paternalistic" behavior in Akron, in the first case, to modern supposed "corporate socially responsible" outlays by Bridgestone/Firestone in Liberia, in the second.