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Ted Turner’s Corporate Cross-Dressing and the Shifting Images of American Business Leadership

  • Eric Guthey

The media celebration of media owner Ted Turner's career and personal biography reflects important shifts in the image of American corporate leadership over the past thirty years.Even aspects of Turner’s life we would normally consider private, such as his sex life and his marriage to Jane Fonda, have taken on this very public function.As a result Turner has served as a transitional figure between two competing visions of corporate identity and responsibility: paternalist managerialism and the “real entity” theory of the firm on the one hand, and on the other, antimanagerial market adventurism and the new economic theory of the firm as a nexus of contracts.The story of how Turner has come to serve this gender-charged iconic function helps clarify how the balance of representational power continues to shift back and forth between these two visions during a period of considerable upheaval in the social, legal, and symbolic construction of the American corporation.

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Unpublished Sources

Chen, Joie, and King., LarryTed Turner Giving Away $1 Billion to the United Nations.CNN Breaking News (18 Sept. 1997; 10:30 PM ET).
Donvan, John. “Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting Merger.ABC World News Tonight (22 Sept. 1995; 6:30 PM ET).
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Enterprise & Society
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