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2008 Annual Meeting Abstracts

Joseph L. Anderson
Farmers under Siege: Regulating Drugs, Manure, and Pesticides in the Postwar Midwest
This paper is an examination of the complexity of farmers' attitudes about government regulation of productive technology. Farmers utilized new tools and techniques to minimize costs and maximize production in a period during which commodity prices did not keep pace with expenses. Much of this technology was capable of "offending and polluting our environment," as Clifford Hardin, President Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture, conceded. As a result, federal and state governments began to regulate technology use in hopes of mitigating some of the most severe consequences of its use. Some farmers agreed that regulation was desirable to protect human health and ecosystems while others were hostile to any regulatory effort. Many (if not most) farmers ignored or fought new regulations and found themselves out of touch with the changing political and social landscapes of the postwar world. The preliminary conclusion of this study is that even as government regulation damaged farmers' credibility and constrained technological choices, it actually strengthened the market position of the largest farms that accounted for an increasing share of American production.
Tokunbo Ayoola
Examination of the Impact of the Second World War on the Nigerian Railway, 1939-1955
The Nigerian Railway system on the eve of the Second World War comprised more than 2,500 kilometers of single-track railroads, and was one of the longest in Africa. The main railroad networks were first constructed by the British imperial government and the Nigerian colonial government between 1898 and 1930. The network was essentially constructed to facilitate economic exploitation and general administration of the African colony. The main priority of this particular mode of transport was the evacuation of export crops and mineral resources. This was therefore why the railroads ran in a perpendicular way—that is, originating from the southern part of the colony and moving up north. The lines ran from the harbors of Port Harcourt and Lagos into the hinterland, the location of mines, agricultural production areas, and large population clusters. In essence the railway network, especially before the late 1950s, when road transport caught up with and overtook it as the main transporters of goods and passengers, was the bedrock of colonial Nigeria's political economy. However, during the Second World War the capacity of the railroad industry was severely tested, its infrastructure was stretched to the limit, and there was lack of spare parts, locomotives, and rolling stock for the industry. The paper therefore seeks to analyze the role and impact of the Second World War in the management of Nigerian Railways from 1939 to 1955, when the Nigerian Railway Department, a unit of the colonial bureaucracy, was reorganized and transformed into a statutory public corporation, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo and J. Carles Maixé-Altés
Organizational Change and the Computerization of British and Spanish Savings Banks, circa 1950-1985
In this article we explore organisational changes associated with the automation of mutual financial intermediaries the UK while making a running comparison with developments in Spain. This international comparison helps to ascertain the evolution of the same organisational form in two distinct competitive environments. Changes in regulation and technological developments (particularly applications of information technology) are said to be responsible for enhancing competitiveness of retail finance. Archival research on the evolution of savings banks helps to ascertain how, prior to competitive changes taking place, participants in bank markets had to develop capabilities to compete. Moreover, assess the response of collaborative agreements to opportunities opened by technological change (in particular resolve apparent scale disadvantages to contest bank markets). Of particular interest is the role of applications of computer technology to redefine the relation between head office and retail branches as well as between staff at retail branches and customers.
Christopher Beauchamp
The Telephone Patents: Intellectual Property, Business, and the Law in the United States and Britain, 1876-1900
This dissertation reconsiders the nineteenth century's most famous intellectual property rights: Alexander Graham Bell's fundamental patents for the telephone. Bell's contested claim to the invention of the telephone has entered popular history as a controversy over inventive credit. At root, however, the struggle over the telephone's origins reflected a battle for patent control—one that resulted in an industry profoundly shaped by law and by the relationship between business strategies and national legal regimes. By employing the telephone as a case study, the dissertation seeks to make three main historical contributions. The first is to offer an international perspective on the role of patents during the "second industrial revolution," showing how the development of new industries related to the form in which intellectual property was produced and reproduced across borders. A second aim is to open the "black box" of patent litigation in Britain and the United States, in order to compare how the two countries' legal systems interpreted and enforced property rights over a new technology. The third theme of the dissertation is the role of patents in creating corporate monopolies. Contrary to arguments that patents played little part in shaping business structure during this period, I find that they were an important formative influence on the organization of British and American telephone companies and on the development of the telephone industry as a whole.
Christopher Beauchamp
Technology's Trials: Patent Litigation in the United States Courts, 1865-1910
In the last third of the nineteenth century, patents and patented inventions emerged as a key component of America's industrial development. In recent years, academic interest in this period of patent growth has flourished, thanks in part to the massive expansion of the modern United States patent system. Little is known, however, about another nineteenth-century parallel with modern times: the profusion of patent litigation in the federal courts. This paper presents new evidence on the volume, location, and content of late nineteenth-century patent litigation. Its contribution is methodological as well as substantive. Previous historical treatments of nineteenth-century patent suits rely on reported cases. This paper, by contrast, uses court archives to analyze the actual population of lawsuits. As well as avoiding the sample-bias problems associated with case reporting, this approach yields rich information on the parties, legal practitioners, and patents involved in litigation.
Gavin Benke
Where Is Enron? Changing Perceptions of Geographic Relationships in the Deregulation of California's Energy Market
[Paper]
I examine the role geography plays when a large company with a distant headquarters conducts business in a particular location. Geographers see a power imbalance between the mobile capital of large corporations and fixed locations that must attract this capital, while companies sometimes downplay geographic distance. However, this strategy can become a liability if tensions between the company and a location emerge. As a case study, I look at changing geographic perceptions as Enron conducted business in California in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Enron's initial strategy was to efface its complex geographic relationship to California. Although the company's strategy was initially more or less successful, as the California energy crisis unfolded, Enron's geographic identity quickly became a lightning rod for public and journalistic expressions of frustration and anger. I track this shift in geographic perception through Enron press releases and California newspaper stories, editorials, and letters to the editor.
Leslie Berlin
Draper, Gaither, and Anderson: First Venture Capital Firm in Silicon Valley
In September 1959, two military generals and the former chair of RAND and the Ford Foundation launched Draper, Gaither, and Anderson: the first venture capital firm in the region that would come to be known as Silicon Valley. Many elements of the modern venture capital firm—the partnership structure, the general/limited partner division of profits, the focus on profits as an end in themselves—can trace their roots to Draper, Gaither, and Anderson, which blended practices of famous family investors (the Rockefellers and Whitneys, for example) with the technology- and university-centered approaches pioneered by Georges Doriot at the Boston-based American Research and Development, the first venture capital firm in the United States (founded in 1946). Although Draper, Gaither, and Anderson has received almost no attention from scholars, this paper argues that the partnership's legacy, as well as its implications for the history of the early venture capital industry and of Silicon Valley, are substantial.
Mark Billings and Alan Booth
Britain's National Giro, 1965-1977: Computerized Nationalism?
This paper investigates the early years of Britain's National Giro, which opened for business in 1968. We place Giro's establishment and development in the wider political, social, and economic context, addressing commercial and technological issues at a time when techno-nationalist and wider macro-management concerns were far stronger than at the present time. The Giro was established to operate a national payments system, making use of the post office branch network. It provided an alternative to the traditional check-clearing system operated by the major commercial banks, which British governments in the 1960s regarded as uncompetitive and inefficient hoarders of labor, which persistently threatened government attempts to control inflation and simultaneously failed to cater to the banking needs of the majority. We add to the growing literature examining the role played by technology in financial institutions and extend existing scholarship by examining this unusual business organization: the Giro was established as a state-owned financial institution, rare in Britain; and it was designed to function from the outset on a computerized basis, a key element in the government's techno-nationalist stance (promoting Harold Wilson's "white heat of the scientific revolution"), which sought to nurture the British computer industry against U.S. competition.
Veronica Binda
National Business Systems and Foreign Multinationals: The Changing Connections among the State, Entrepreneurs, and Foreign Investors in Italy and Spain during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
Connections among foreign investments and national business systems take very different shapes over time and space. The empirical evidence gathered on Italy and Spain proves that a particular kind of connection, the joint venture between foreign investors and local entrepreneurship, represented a quite frequent phenomenon in both countries during the twentieth century. Nevertheless, joint ventures have been the favorite option of interaction only in a well-defined place and period: the years of the Francoist dictatorship in Spain. Among the reasons that can explain this phenomenon, the different legal context that countersigned the Spanish dictatorial regime represents a key point. But this interpretation is not enough. In order to understand it effectively, some fundamental factors—the particular social and cultural features of the country that hosted the investments, the attitude toward risk of foreign investors, and the fact that the partnership with the state, the banks, and private entrepreneurship represented, in a context of dictatorship, relative economic isolation, and industrial backwardness, a winning tool to get notable competitive advantages—cannot be neglected.
Mansel G. Blackford
Business Historians and the Global Over-Fishing Crisis: Opportunities for Research
[Paper]
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, seafood firms supplying the American market—Red Chamber, Trident Seafoods, and the Pacific Seafood Group, to name the three largest in 2006—were privately held family firms engaged exclusively in catching, processing, and selling seafood. They had displaced publicly held diversified corporations as seafood industry leaders. In this essay, I look at how and why that change occurred by setting the stage for business actions through an examination of the nature of modern-day fishing and over-fishing and through an investigation of efforts to mitigate over-fishing through national and international government bodies such as United Nations Law of the Sea Conferences. I discuss how seafood firms have met the challenges of their new circumstances, leading to a substantial reconfiguration of their industry. I also touch on the need for additional historical oceanic research.
Hubert Bonin
Bankers and Banks as Evil in Literature, Newspapers and Movies: The French Case from the 1830s till Today
Mixing connections between business history and literature and arts, we intend to apply to banking history the issue of the assessment of the "perception" of banks (and bankers) by society and public opinion with a long-term scope. Perception has become a key issue of business, because of the building of corporate image and of PR policies; banks and bankers had to face the challenge of their perception because of the discrepancy between their (supposedly) useful contribution to industrial revolutions and growth on one side and their negative image among society in general, among state and business elites, and within public opinion. Such a perception can be analyzed by a banking historian through a precise reading of old novels and newspapers, a coverage of paintings about bankers and their environment, and, lately, through the screening of a few movies dedicated to financial events and milieux. Our study should also take into account Ranald Michie's recent book about the perception of British banks. We also intend to describe how banks (and bankers) reacted to such a misperception and set up policies to improve their image. Such topics have rarely been tackled in French banking history, and our recent studies in archives and libraries—to be still broadened in the months ahead—have started to pave the way to path-breaking analysis. This latter will mix cultural history and business (and banking) history in order to place this part of banking history within a large framework of sociological history, institutional communication, and literature and the arts: the cultural impact of banking.
Gordon Boyce and Paul Barnes
Anticipatory Risk and Crisis Management Systems: Conceptual Issues derived from Historical Experience
Failure in human systems are familiar events in the modern world, with some commentators suggesting that such "disturbances" may be increasing in complexity and in consequence. Analyses of major accidents concluded that approximately 20 to 30 percent of the causes of accidents were technical in nature with 70 to 80 percent involving social, administrative, or managerial factors. Given that most organizations link humans and technology together, it is logical to think of organizational failures as elements within a broader class of socio-technical crisis. Can the lessons learned from failures reduce the likelihood of future crises or at least attenuate consequent impacts? With the presumption that causal and conditional evidence about failures always awaits discovery and that humans and human systems do "learn" from such events, the viability of anticipating future failure is self-evident. Moreover, it has been suggested that in the longer term, as operating circumstances change, organizations must also un-learn established practices and retain a capacity to adapt and anticipate in order to survive. This paper outlines conceptual issues derived from historical instances of major systemic failure, successful crisis management, and prevention.
Blaine J. Branchik
It's All About the Man: Advertising and the Changing Male Market
American men, as a culture and as consumers, are undergoing rapid change. These changes are attributed to male reaction to rapidly evolving gender roles and the transition from a production-oriented industrial economy to a more consumption-oriented service economy. These changes have impacted men's shopping habits and, as a result, businesses' communications with male targeted buyers. This presentation outlines a study to chronicle these changes by using advertisements for men's fashion and grooming products from fifty years of Sports Illustrated magazine. Advertising provides an archival record and normative guide for consumer culture; therefore, ads can serve as in important tool in this analysis. Using content analysis, this study intends to categorize the values expressed in these ads. Examining over 1,100 advertisements, I foresee a shift from other-focused values such as family or affiliation to more self-focused values such as vanity, eros, and fitness. This study will provide a tool for examining an important and lucrative market segment while giving businesses a view into a changing consumer culture.
Deborah Breen
An Artful Business: Interpreting Business Development through the Eyes of Colonial Artists in Australia, 1850-1890
The work of artists in the colonial period in Australia presents a rich opportunity to explore the ways in which artwork adds to our understanding of economic life. Artists such as S.T. Gill and Eugen von Guerard observed and recorded the development of the colonies in a range of art work presented in exhibitions, salons, and as illustrations in books and magazines published in England, Germany, and Australia. An examination of their art allows us to see the increments of economic development as the colonies flourished. Examining these art works suggests the numerous ways in which artists participated in economic life: they cooperated with business people to produce images of the colonies for consumption; they raised the profile of art by organizing exhibitions; and they worked as illustrators, teachers, photographers, and designers in a range of creative industries. In a less tangible way, they also contributed to the recognition of cultural capital within the colonies, indicating that Australia was worthy of continued public and private investment. The work of colonial artists, intimately connected with the growth of the Australian colonies, proposes a narrative of economic life that is both an illustration of, and a complement to, the written record.
Marcelo Bucheli
Canadian Multinational Corporations and Latin American Nationalism: New Sources and Interpretations for the Imperial Oil Company
During the twentieth century, Canadian capital invested in the Latin American oil sector through the International Petroleum Company (IPC), which faced the opposition of nationalist groups who considered the firm was exploiting their countries. This paper shows how by using a body of recently available or understudied primary sources we can understand in which way the Canadian political and economic environment affected IPC's operations in Colombia and Peru, the profitability of its operations, and its relationship with the British government when confronting Latin American nationalism. My paper shows: (a) IPC's expansion to Latin America responded to harsh competition and little government support in Canada, (b) IPC's profits in Latin America were lower than has been argued elsewhere and, (c) IPC preferred to use Britain and the United States as their home governments when negotiating with the Latin American governments, rather than the Canadian government.
Ted Buswick
Ideas for Developing Corporate History—From Inside
Many people work in business history from the business rather than the academic side. We ask such questions as: "How can business history be relevant to our company's success?" and "How can we ensure that the leaders and employees understand its relevance?" From my personal experience establishing and running an Oral History and Archiving program at The Boston Consulting Group, a leading international management consulting firm with 64 offices in 38 countries, I will explain what we have done to preserve and celebrate our history by focusing on four topics:
  1. Oral history, its processes and uses
  2. Building internal support, especially through customer service and senior management involvement
  3. Cooperative research, working with our rivals and with academics
  4. Using technology, especially our "History at BCG" intranet site
Ludovic Cailluet
The Changing Portrait of the Strategist: Skills, Qualities, and Qualifications in France and the United Kingdom, 1965-2000s
Strategic planning was born as a management practice during the interwar years in the United States and spread widely there among large enterprises after World War II. Following the well-described pattern of Americanization, it expanded in Europe in the 1960s. According to Henry Mintzberg, the practice declined in the United States after the mid-1970s, because it was not able to adapt to a changing competitive environment. Corporate planning had supposedly transformed itself into a self-serving bureaucratic process with no relevance to reality. This paper challenges that vision of the extinction of strategic planning. Relying particularly on job advertisements analysis, business archive research, and interviews with former practitioners, we argue that there has been both change and continuity in strategic planning practice over the last five decades, and that the practice is still present in many large-scale enterprises in Europe and elsewhere. In that respect, this paper is a business history paper that claims to bring a better understanding of current issues in strategic planning.
W. Bernard Carlson
Promotion, not Manufacturing: Nikola Tesla's Business Strategy, 1885-1905
This paper investigates the business strategy used by Nikola Tesla to introduce his inventions. Previously, historians have assumed that most nineteenth-century inventors earned money by establishing new companies to manufacture and market their creations. While Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell certainly pursued this manufacturing-oriented strategy, Tesla instead pursued a promotion-oriented strategy. Rather than set up new companies to manufacture his creations, Tesla promoted his inventions to investors and the public and then sold the patents to manufacturers. While this promotion-oriented strategy is still employed today, we know little about this strategy in a formal and analytical sense. To explore promotion as a strategy, this paper examines how Tesla worked on the AC motor and then wireless power between 1885 and 1905. Overall, in narrating Tesla's approach to the business of invention, I show that he was not a technical wizard who lacked business sense but rather a talented inventor who demonstrated creativity not only in the laboratory but also in the ways he promoted and funded his research.
Jeff Charles
Flowers, Fruits, and Furs: Marketing Luxury in California Farming, 1890-1990
As U.S. agriculture as a whole moved toward consolidation, incorporation, and standardization in the twentieth century, a number of smaller farmers, especially in California, turned to unusual or exotic products that had associations with a luxury or an upscale market. These farmers, whose numbers notably included women as well as men, were attracted to the production of exotic fruits, flowers, and for a brief period, fur-bearing animals, partly because they could be cultivated on a small scale and yet still marketed at prices that would turn a profit, and partly, as well, because the cachet of these products made them intrinsically appealing in an urbanized, consumer-dominated society. This paper presents four vignettes from a hundred years of California agriculture's interaction with the consumer market—involving pampas grass, chinchillas, poinsettias, and kiwifruit—all of which had a vogue as fashionable commodities. Of course, none of these products was essential to American households, and thus farmers and their agents attempted to construct markets based on the products' prestige associations, with decidedly mixed success. This paper argues, however, that even products that failed to sell helped increase the range of fruits, flowers, and produce available to the nation, and helped lay the groundwork for the late twentieth-century efflorescence of prestige farming in California and elsewhere.
Albert Churella
Does the Man Make the Railroad or Does the Railroad Make the Man? The Pennsylvania Railroad's Connections to Professional Management and the Failure of the Penn Central, 1920-1970
[Paper]
During the 1910s and 1920s, Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) executives experienced a managerial crisis, finding it increasingly difficult to hire, train, and promote their replacements. Throughout the nineteenth century, the expanding PRR System offered individuals trained in engineering the opportunity for rapid advancement. After 1900, however, jobs in emerging industries such as automobiles and chemicals offered higher pay and greater chance for promotion. Interstate Commerce Commission rates did not permit sufficiently remunerative salaries. Internal factors were more important, however, as PRR senior executives debated the relative importance for new management hires of a college degree or on-the-job experience. A 1920 decentralization of PRR's management exacerbated this executive crisis, as did PRR managers' growing perception that public demands for greater efficiency constrained salary flexibility. The managers who came of age during this period were poorly prepared to cope with the PRR's decline during the late 1950s and early 1960s when they became senior executives.
Sally Clarke
"More Clean Air for the Buck": Law, Economics, and Acid Rain
"Cap and trade" (what is more formally known as emissions trading) was first tried on a national basis with the acid rain plan, Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. "Cap" refers to the process of reducing the total amount of a given pollutant that dischargers can emit and then capping the total emissions at some reduced level; "trade" refers to the ability of firms to buy and sell permits to pollute a fixed amount of a particular pollutant. This paper represents my preliminary review of the early years of emissions trading. I examine environmentalists' complaints about firms that "gamed" regulators as well as environmentalists' efforts to prevent gaming and in other respects create sound institutional supports for the acid rain plan.
Lisa D. Cook
The Anomaly of Private Property in the Soviet Union: Evidence from Soviet Patenting Abroad, 1921-1991
Private property was largely outlawed in the Soviet Union. Between 1924 and 1991, fewer than one hundred patents, which granted control rights to inventors, were awarded by the State Committee for Inventions and Discoveries. Yet, over the same period, thousands of patents were granted to Soviet citizens by patent offices of countries outside the U.S.S.R., including in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States. Among Soviet citizens, patterns of inventive activity within and outside the Soviet Union differed substantially. This puzzle raises two important questions. Does the idea of patented ideas offer another challenge to the official prohibition of private property among citizens of the Soviet Union? What explains differences in the rate and composition of technological change in and beyond the borders of the U.S.S.R.? The preliminary evidence suggests that foreign patent offices were simultaneously substitutes for and complements to their Soviet counterpart. The implications of this research would be meaningful for better understanding the returns to significant long-term investment in scientific research in the U.S.S.R. More important, lessons from the laboratory of historical patenting behavior among residents of the Soviet Union could extend to developing countries and emerging markets considering patent reform today.
Will Cooley
The Hustler's Ethic: Alternative Routes to Business Success in Black Chicago, 1916-1940
This paper addresses alternative routes to success through entrepreneurship in economically marginalized communities. The migration of African Americans to northern cities in the first half of the twentieth century opened up new vistas of opportunity but also presented many of the same racial restrictions faced in the South. Faced with racism that prevented entry into many mainstream businesses, blacks invented alternate routes to advancement to circumvent these limits. Efforts to "move on up" involved the shadowy worlds of gambling and storefront preaching, revealing black aspirations for individual success through the reinvention of notions of "respectability" within the community. Although many of these occupations were considered dubious or outright illegal when compared to conventional methods of American success, in the black community they were regularly afforded degrees of legitimacy because of the common understandings of racism, discrimination and an admiration for the hustler ethic.
Richard Coopey
Enterprise and Enterprising Artists: Towards a Business History of Art in Britain, 1850-1990
This paper aims to connect business history to the history of art—between which a surprisingly large gulf seems to exist. While there is a superabundance of history of art—some theoretically anchored, more often adrift empirically—very little connects the creative with the economic. Art, in many forms, enters a variety of markets, and throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries these markets have become increasingly important and international. A wide range of enterprises have emerged historically to take advantage of these trends, from individual producers and retailers to multinational, multidivisional corporations. This paper will concentrate on what might be termed fine art, predominantly in its British context. It will highlight the range of business activity involved, including the relationship between innovation and the market, the structure and nature of arts enterprises, the role of technology in production and consumption, the development of mass markets, and the role of national and international networks. In part the paper will be built around case studies of leading artists from key phases in the history of British art, notably Benjamin Williams Leader, Philip Wilson Steer, Henry Moore, and Damien Hirst. It will look at their own economic activity, their agents, and their markets as representatives of paradigmatic stages in the British art business.
Andrew Dawson
Hollywood Studios and the Demand for Racial Equality in the Motion Picture Industry, 1963-1974
In the late 1950s Hollywood studios were virtually lilywhite but by the early 1970s African Americans had entered a range of motion-picture occupations. This paper looks at racial change in the movie industry and the activities of the studios and their executives. The paper makes two broad arguments. First, in order to answer the question how and why the racial order shifted we need to remember employers' responsibilities for the social organization of the workplace. Relatively little attention is paid to the employers' role in determining workplace racial hierarchies. While some historians emphasize white working-class racism—"the wages of whiteness" thesis—business and labor history also needs to explore an alternative perspective, the "profits of prejudice." The studios had conflicting commercial, political, and industrial interests that account for their complex response to civil rights. Second, how existing racial patterns unravelled is, in part, determined by their prior historical construction. In other words, how the movie industry's racial order disintegrated in the mid-1960s is profoundly influenced by the way it was assembled in the Los Angeles of the early twentieth century. Hollywood's old racial order collapsed unevenly. In responding to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the demands of the federal government, executives negotiated a set of alliances with studio unions and guilds each of which had their own agendas and varying commitment to civil rights. The studios joined with the Screen Actors Guild in exploring ways to increase black on-screen roles, while at the same time forming a common front with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) to maintain the industry experience roster—a system that restricted African American entry to off-camera jobs—in the face of pressure from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Stephanie Decker
Building up Goodwill: British Business, Development and Economic Nationalism in Ghana and Nigeria, 1945 to 1977
British companies in Ghana and Nigeria were never in doubt that they would outstay the Empire. The way in which firms carved out the legitimacy of their presence in less developed countries was heavily based on contemporary development thinking, which was pervasive with colonial as well as African nationalist governments. But trends in development economics have also influenced how academics have interpreted the role of multinational companies in poor countries, conceptualizing it as an antagonistic relationship with a constant struggle over control between host country and foreign investment. The first part of the thesis analyzes the relationship between companies and host governments, which went from initial conflict through a long phase of cooperation. The consensus on economic development, which developed in the 1940s, was seriously challenged only in a global wave of expropriations in the 1970s. During decolonization, British firms gained social capital through corporate policies that linked to official development programs, good publicity, and extensive political networking. In the late 1960s and 1970s, legislation that enforced national participation and ownership of foreign businesses in West Africa did not exclusively target Western multinationals, but was more detrimental to the interests of Lebanese and other African residents. In my thesis I argue that taking control of foreign investment was not necessarily the goal of African states, which were locked in internal postcolonial struggles over redistribution, and that research into multinationals has to go beyond an international framework and address the local dynamic of a foreign corporate presence. Development and economic nationalism also affected corporate policy toward Africans in senior management positions. The second part of the thesis focuses on British companies' relationship with their African labor force. Initially, Africanization was a type of goodwill policy, but as a result of the rising economic nationalism of the 1970s, companies were forced to proceed faster and further in giving control to local staff than they would have otherwise liked. Compared with the civil service, business was slow in giving responsibility to Africans, but differences between sectors depended not only on how much technical knowledge was required but also on how early and intensely companies had been criticized. Extensive training programs and long-term socialization were used to ensure trust and loyalty between European principals and their African agents, but over time the bargaining position of the latter was strengthened as a result of the rising economic nationalism of the 1970s.
Stephanie Decker
The Colonial Legacy in African Management? West Africa (1950s-1970s) and South Africa (1990s-2000s)
The colonial legacy in Africa has determined the development of management on the continent, as the comparison between the historical case of Africanization in Ghana and Nigeria in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s with South Africa in the 1990s and 2000s highlights. The replacement of white managers with blacks who could previously occupy only subordinate positions in the colonial or Apartheid system experienced similar problems in these countries, even though Ghana and Nigeria were not settler colonies. In the quest for legitimacy in the eyes of local elites and the international community, companies are tempted to resort to ineffectual window-dressing or "tokenism," or failing to develop the talent and abilities of black staff, who often face disapproval not only from white but also from less successful black colleagues. In case of successful promotion of black managers, skilled white personnel were often driven away by the lack of opportunities for advancement for them, while capable black staff were frequently poached with better offers by competitors. The creation of a black elite with significantly higher income than the majority population could also be socially divisive and undermine corporate social responsibility claims.
Paul Duguid, Ross Housewright, and Andrew McDiarmid
Call This Progress? The Uncertain Path of U.S. Trademark Law and Practice in the Nineteenth Century
Business historians have tied the rise of U.S. corporations to the development of marketing and marks, while economic historians have emphasized the contribution of stable economic institutions (and, by extension, intellectual property law) to the growth of such firms. It can seem that the growth of modern brands reflects an inexorable line of organizational and institutional progress from 1870 to the present. Such accounts generally fail to explain that U.S. law and property in marks in the late nineteenth century was anything but stable. State law was intermittent and variable, while federal law, passed in 1870 under the "progress" clause of the Constitution after 10 years of trying, was within another 10 years ruled unconstitutional. In the business world, the ruling was met with shock. Attempts were made to have the law reinstated or a constitutional amendment passed. Neither succeeded, and from 1881 federal courts offered protection primarily to foreign firms and Indian tribes, neither particularly central to the conventional accounts of growth, or under common law, which had long been dismissed as inadequate and cumbersome. This paper will examine the quarter century of confusion until a defensible federal law was finally passed in 1905. Focusing on the relationship between business practice and the law, it will look at legislation, litigation, and registration, both nationally and internationally. It will explore the influence foreign law exerted in the US. It will look at trade mark litigation both in the U.S. and abroad involving both U.S. and foreign firms. And it will draw on comparative registration data compiled from national and international trademark publications and archival sources, from Champagne to Sacramento. In the process, it will question some common assumptions about the contribution of intellectual property law in general and trade mark law in particular to economic activity.
Elizabeth Cafer du Plessis
"Plant more wheat!" World War I and the Sustainability Ideal in U.S. Agriculture
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, a top concern of American agricultural leaders was how U.S. farmers could meet growing demands for more food—in peacetime and in war—while also restoring, protecting, and even improving soil fertility. Environmental historians have missed the early history of the sustainability ideal in U.S. agriculture because of a narrow focus on the Conservation Movement of the same period that resulted in government management of rivers and forests, as well as the establishment of national parks. This paper examines overlooked agricultural sustainability initiatives, governmental and otherwise, in the Great Plains before and during World War I. The U.S. declaration of war in 1917 meant provisioning extraordinary quantities of foodstuffs to the Allies' massive armies and dislocated civilians, and wheat was Europe's greatest single food demand on the United States. American wheat farmers responded by taking out loans, buying farm machinery, and plowing up wild pasture and grazing lands. An ideological conflict between wartime food demands and long-term conservation goals continued for decades after the war ended. Many of the difficulties of the American farmer, including the 1930s Dust Bowl, were blamed on the "great plow-up" of 1917 and 1918.
Xavier Duran
The first globalization era has been characterized as the consequence of "mechanical invention." The development of the steamship led to dramatic transport cost declines during the second half of the nineteenth century. In turn, transport cost reductions triggered the first globalization era. The focus on transport cost decline has, however, blurred the fact that the consequences of the "mechanical invention" were more complex. The application of steam to sea and overland transportation also led to substantial transport time savings, and merchants were prepared to pay high premiums for bringing certain commodities faster to the markets. Additionally, although transport prices did not contribute to final price declines in these goods, their high income elasticity supported consumption and trade growth. The mechanical invention's primacy is therefore confirmed. However, the economic mechanisms through which it affected globalization were far more complex and significant, because steam transportation also generated transport time reductions for which merchants and, ultimately, consumers were prepared to pay.
Louise Nelson Dyble
California's Exceptional Farmers Markets: A Story of Regulation and Its Consequences
In 1943, a bumper crop of pears that could not be sold to consumers brought protesting farmers into San Francisco, eventually leading to the creation of the city's first farmers' market. In 1975, farmers dumped surplus peaches on the steps of the capital building, capturing the attention of Governor Jerry Brown and finally leading to the legalization of farmers' markets. Both incidents were protests against California's strict quality controls, including packing and labeling requirements designed to support commodification that were adopted in the 1930s. Both incidents brought attention to the limits and disadvantages of those laws. The struggle to legalize farmers' markets resulted in their distinctive institutional characteristics today. Regulations were relaxed in 1977 to allow farmers to sell their products directly to consumers. However, exemptions came with restrictions. In no other state does government regulation so thoroughly shape farmers' markets. Elsewhere, voluntary associations and independent organizations have developed guidelines for markets but have little authority to enforce them. In California, resolute opposition to farmers' markets by powerful conventional farming interests generated a unique system of state oversight and regulation. The very rules that were originally intended to conscribe farmers' markets have been critical to their integrity and success.
Stephanie Dyer
Making Community Connections in the Department Store
This paper examines the history of the locally owned department store business model as a distinctive example of large-scale retailing based on localized, place-based consumption. In distinction from the dominant trend toward national and international chain store retailing geared toward maximizing economies of scale by maximizing the geographic extension of its outlets, department stores worked by intensifying their consumer ties within limited urban and regional areas. The paper examines the way department stores promoted themselves as civic actors rooted in a local community. By developing distinctive "brand" identities based on cultivating their social capital within their local contexts, department stores created a strategy of mass consumption that was explicitly dependent on their immediate environment. Rather than being creatures of a free market unaffected by specific political, social, and cultural contexts, a department store brand was a product of its embeddedness in its local context.
Ernie J. Englander
The Business Roundtable and Corporate Governance, 1973-2007
Alfred Chandler expanded business history's connections to business strategy. While many have extended Chandler's work, others have expanded Chandler in two other directions: (1) moving beyond individual firms in an industry to industry-wide trade associations and (2) moving beyond business strategy to connect to an industry's political strategy. This paper joins a smaller set of historians who have looked at pan-industry associations and their connection to corporate-wide political strategies. I examine the Business Roundtable [BRT] and its efforts to affect U.S. public policy. In particular, I focus on the organization's involvement in a series of policy issues regarding corporate governance— defining the role of corporate boards, setting and revealing executive pay, setting limits on shareholder voice, determining accounting and legal standards—in the multiple arenas of U.S. policy-making: the courts, the Congress, public and private regulatory agencies, and professional associations with regulatory responsibilities in law, securities, and accounting.
Mike Esbester
Persuasive Information: British Business and the Educative Campaign, 1913-2008
This paper examines the business origins of the voluntary educative campaign, known as "public information," in Britain, whereby organizations produced informative material to persuade people to alter their behavior. Taking the occupational safety education campaign introduced by the railway industry, I will show how the educative approach was borne out of and reinforced dominant voluntaristic notions of how government, business, and society should interact to regulate business and social behavior that was seen as undesirable. I argue that the concept of the "public information" campaign was introduced to Britain by the railway industry in 1913, following the American "Safety First" campaign. I argue that this was a "modern" approach to persuading people to adopt economically and socially beneficial behavior. I chart how this approach grew in Britain from a single industry to have a significant and continuing impact upon wider society. In doing so, I engage with broader debates in business history, about the relationships between government, business, and the public, and about notions of voluntarism and individual liberty.
Lindsey Feitz
Manufacturing Marlboro Country: Transnational Advertising Connections in Marlboro's Hong Kong Advertising Campaign, 1971-1985
The iconic figure of the Marlboro Man and the myth of the American West, individual freedom, and rugged masculinity he symbolizes, has been lauded as one of the most successful advertising campaigns in U.S. history. These quintessentially "American" values are also credited for helping Marlboro maintain its status as the number one selling cigarette brand in the world since the early 1980s. Using the Marlboro advertising campaign in Hong Kong as a case study, this paper explores how local advertising executives at the Leo Burnett advertising agency repositioned Marlboro's failing brand image to create a "new and improved" version of America—and Marlboro Country—for Hong Kong's consumers in the late 1970s. Using oral history interviews of Hong Kong and Western executives who worked on the campaign, combined with a theoretical framework of "transnational connectivities," I argue that as "cultural translators" Chinese executives produced a marketing campaign in which discourses of American nationalism, social prestige, masculinity, and modernity were modified to the changing values of Hong Kong youth culture in the 1970s and thus underscore the historical role transnational advertising agencies have played in creating culturally and commercially appealing constructions of "America" for international consumers.
Susanna Fellman
Enforcing and Re-Enforcing Trust: Employers and Upper White-Collar Employees in Finnish Manufacturing, 1920-1980
This paper analyzes the transformations in employee-employer relations over a long time period, with a focus on upper white-collar employees and skilled professionals within the manufacturing industry in Finland. The empirical analysis covers transformations in employment policies, employment conditions, reward systems and employee-employer relations on the firm level, combined with labor market analysis of these employees' growing interest formulation and the responses of the employers to this development. The main argument of the paper is that, in spite of extensive transformations both on the labor market (negotiation practices, collective action, professional interest formulation, employer strategies) and on the company level (compensation systems, personnel policies, employment conditions), the basic feature in the employee-employer relations with respect to this particular personnel group was an aim on both sides to maintain employee-employer relations based on mutual trust and loyalty, originating in the patriarchal tradition. However, the strategies of both parties changed as a result of transformations on the labor market and on the company level. The employers wanted to avoid conflicts and clashes with this group of "key employees" and had to react to their increasing interest formulation and growing wage earner loyalty. The skilled white-collar employees, on the other hand, aimed to preserve their favorable position as confidants to the owners and employers in order to secure career opportunities and a decent wage level. One important strategy was to demarcate themselves more distinctly from lower white-collar employees. These transformations are dealt with as dynamic processes, consisting of elements of tension and conflict, both within and between the two parties, but also of adaptation and conflict solving. The processes are also set against broader societal changes. This was an era of "modernizing Finland," marked by professionalization, active growth policies and, after World War II, consensus building, where particularly the interest of the export sector was in focus. By building consensus and enforcing trust between employers and employees economic growth was to be promoted.
Felipe Tâmega Fernandes
Comparative Advantage and Productivity Gap under Scarce Resources: The British and American Rubber Manufacture Industries Compared, 1870-1910
Despite evidences that the British might have possessed some comparative advantage in rubber manufacturing, productivity measures suggest that, at the turn of the twentieth century, Britain lagged behind. Two questions then emerge: 1) Why was rubber manufacturing productivity higher in the United States? 2) What then explains British comparative advantage? It is argued in the paper that standardization of demand and the move toward mass production in the United States explain the productivity gap that was partly offset by the easier access Britain had to the main input in the industry: crude rubber. It is further shown that the British position in the crude rubber market relied on possession of (rubber-producing) colonies and naval power that allowed that country to extract monopoly rents from its main competitor. This favorable position in the crude rubber market allowed the country to influence the quality and prices of the main input in its competitor's industry, at least marginally.
Melissa S. Fisher
Wall Street Women: Constructing Genealogies of Business Women's Present
This paper draws from a historical ethnographic study of the first generation of Wall Street women. Specifically, it is an account of how the pioneering cohort of women moved from relatively modest career beginnings—holding jobs on the lowest rungs of corporate ladders in banks (in the 1960s and 1970s)—to a situation in which many now occupy positions on multiple boards and are involved in philanthropic as well as political endeavors, particularly those focused on women. In order to understand how this happened, I follow the cohort from their initial entry into the financial world as young adults to the present, when many, now in their fifties and sixties, are moving into their "retirement" years. Drawing on over a decade of archival research and fieldwork on Wall Street and beyond, I argue that the women's career pathways must be understood in relation to a variety of historical frameworks. These include: epochal shifts (the globalization of capitalism), social movements (feminism), generational cultures (the baby-boomers), and changing conceptions of self, work, and retirement in America.
Elizabeth Fones-Wolf and Ken Fones-Wolf
Bringing God to the Shopfloor: The Industrial Chaplain Movement in Postwar America
In the decade after World War II, many American workplaces underwent a religious revival. Hundreds of companies invested in religious literature and welcomed on-the-job religious services. The industrial chaplain movement was the most intense manifestation of religion in the workplace. While relatively few companies actually implemented industrial ministries, there was widespread interest among elements within the church and industry about this phenomenon and the prospects for its further spread seemed promising. For the church it offered access to laboring people untouched by the conventional ministry. For strongly religious employers like R. G. LeTourneau, it harkened back to earlier paternalistic traditions of supporting evangelical religion. The emphasis on religion in the workplace also dovetailed nicely with other postwar managerial initiatives, in particular, sophisticated managerial strategies like human relations, which promised to increase productivity and loyalty to the firm. Indeed in some firms, industrial chaplaincy was part of a broader effort to stymie the growing union challenge to corporate authority. Drawing on church, business and union records to explore the history of the industrial chaplaincy movement, this paper helps shed light on the links between the study of religion and business history.
Martin Forster, Sue Bowden, Martin Walsh, Mark Rodgers, and Steven Duffy
Public Relations, Science, and Tobacco Harm: The Tobacco Industry Research Committee's Reviews of the Scientific Literature, 1954-1964
Public relations played an important role in the U.S. tobacco industry's response to the accumulating scientific evidence suggesting that tobacco could cause cancer. The Tobacco Industry Research Committee, assisted by public relations firm Hill and Knowlton, Inc., has subsequently been described as a "public relations front" rather than an organization engaged in a true search for scientific knowledge. By applying techniques from health services research, this paper assesses the manner in which the TIRC reviewed the published epidemiological literature concerning tobacco and health between 1954 and 1964. It shows that the operation was reasonably comprehensive, responsive, and unbiased. The paper considers the use of this material in the organization's public relations policy, and the degree to which that policy was faithful to John Wiley Hill's belief that "public opinion is entitled to the facts in matters of public concern."
Tami J. Friedman
"If We are Pushed We Will Have to Leave": Capital Flight as a Corporate Anti-Labor Strategy in Postwar New York State
In the early post–World War II period, U.S. business leaders adopted a range of strategies to reassert their authority vis-à-vis a burgeoning labor movement. Capital migration was a key element of the corporate counterattack. This paper examines the ways in which corporate executives deployed capital flight to challenge labor's growing influence in New York State. After the war, businessmen sharply criticized New York's investment climate, insisting that excessive union demands and "anti-business" legislation were hampering employers' efforts to operate profitably in the state. By invoking the threat of capital migration, they hoped to erode unions' bargaining power and win state policy reforms that would diminish workers' rights. While company officials did not always intend to go elsewhere, the loss of manufacturing in the 1950s was significant enough—and competition from other states intense enough—that their threats to relocate carried considerable weight. As a result of businessmen's efforts, workers often felt compelled to accept concessions, while public officials pursued policies designed to enhance the state's business appeal. While corporate leaders faced resistance from unionists and their allies, their strategic use of capital flight helped shift the balance of power in favor of employers in New York state.
Paula Gajewski
Expanding Connections between the New York Stock Exchange and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
[Paper]
The purpose of this paper is to document and analyze connections between the results of the deregulation of the New York Stock Exchange in 1975 and the passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The removal of fixed commission rates prompted stockbrokers to change the way they provided research services, and to seek more individual investors as clients. New standards of fiduciary conduct under ERISA increased the importance of brokers' research capabilities, providing a larger market for brokers, while simultaneously expanding the responsibilities of pension fund managers. Many of ERISA's other provisions increased the time and effort necessary to run a private pension, prompting pension managers to alter or terminate plans, in favor of more individualized pension arrangements, such as defined-contribution plans. The combination of increased fiduciary responsibility on the part of pension managers and greater attention to, and opportunities for, individual investment helped shift the burden of investing for retirement toward the individual employee, and away from the corporation. Deregulation and ERISA combined to provide encouragement and opportunity for individual retirement investment.
Monica R. Gisolfi
Farms or Factories? Chickens, Agribusiness, and Environmental Contamination
Focusing on the rise of the multibillion-dollar chicken industry, the paper explores how minimal environmental regulation and massive farm subsidies were central to the rise of the chicken industry. Specifically, the paper probes how agribusiness skirted environmental regulation. After the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and enactment of the Clean Water Act, the chicken industry, like many other forms of agribusiness, escaped regulation. Casting poultry production as small farming, the industry continued to contaminate the environment. Agribusiness enterprises can be classified neither as solely agricultural nor as solely industrial. Furthermore, the rise of agribusiness suggests that historians must broaden their definition of "industry" to accommodate agribusiness and revisit the usefulness of distinguishing among business, industrial, and agricultural history.
Eric Godelier
History, a Useful "Science" for Management? From Polemics to Controversies
[Paper]
In 1988, a French management journal, La Revue française de gestion, published a special issue on "the roots of enterprise." Authors assessed the research of business historians and management science academics who were working on corporate history or were at least using history as a tool for understanding corporate life and for helping managers in their day-to-day practice. The conclusion was optimistic. Since then, more managers and academics have used history as a framework for corporate comprehension and more historians have focused their work on enterprises and organizations. Nevertheless, even though academic recognition of "management historians" has improved, the dialogue between the two fields relies primarily on personal initiative, rather than on a conscious and systematic interdisciplinary academic strategy. Only a few academic associations, such as the French Accountancy Association, have developed an interest in business or corporate history. Why and how can we improve the dialogue between the two groups concerning scientific controversies?
Terence R. Gourvish
Risk and Responsibility: The Commercial Union's U.S. Business in the 1980s
Risk is an essential component in the business operations of an insurance company. In the life business it stimulated calculations into life expectancy; in the fire business, premiums were based on assessments of the vulnerability of the premises, the materials stored, and long-run climatic predictions. As the insurance business diversified to embrace other risks, notably motor insurance, accident and health insurance, and personal liability, calculations of risk have become both wide-ranging and more sophisticated. This paper is not concerned directly with the calculation of such risks, but rather with the overall viability of one company's insurance operations in the United States, which of course rested upon assessments of insurance risk. It offers a case study of "sub-prime" insuring two decades before the term entered vernacular use. As a result of a strategy of mergers and acquisitions, the British-based Commercial Union inherited a wider range of American insurance obligations, many of which were "sub-prime." Exposure to substantial risk was identified by 1982, and firm action was required in 1984-87 to turn the business round. This case study, based on a program of interviews with leading executives, raises issues such as: managerial reach across national boundaries; the cultural dimension in insurance trading; and the relationship between senior management strategies and "on-the-ground" decision-making lower down the managerial hierarchy.
Janet Greenlees
"We had to be careful": Factory Women's Views of Workplace Hazards, c. 1900-1950
This paper examines female textile workers' attitudes toward health and safety and the associated risks on the shop floor in New England. It uses women's oral testimonies from the different trades to argue that women divided work hazards into three categories: acceptable risks (the social costs of employment), unknown dangers, and the 'real' dangers on the shop floor. While women exercised care at work, they did take dangerous risks. These instances were more frequent when their families urgently needed the money. However, women also switched jobs to avoid certain conditions and hazards and used this as a method of exercising some power in a relatively powerless environment. While risk avoidance and prevention might have contributed to a safer and more relaxed working environment in the long term, in the short term, immediate need was the priority. This immediate need meant that, while many women recognized the dangers they faced, they felt unable to challenge them and instead switched jobs when possible. The limited acceptance of risk and the regular switching of jobs became protection from the realities of the conditions and the daily risks the women faced.
Barbara Hahn
Some Technological Consequences of Emancipation: Fertilizer, Credit,and the Changing Calendar of Tobacco Agriculture
Examining the history of agricultural technologies uncovers some of the complex causal relationships between market demand and market regulation, between the human manipulation of the plant into commodity production and the institutions that influenced technological choices by outlawing some practices and providing incentives for others. This paper compares the technological systems of tobacco production in three periods of Chesapeake history, examining the different political economies of the colonial, antebellum, and postbellum periods and sketching the ways that different market structures and distinct regulatory frameworks shaped technical choices in each era. It also presents counter-examples, cultivation and harvest methods that developed in other regions and periods, to denaturalize cultivation methods and limits to growth. Taken together, these different systems of agricultural production demonstrate the contextual basis for technological choices, which mature into accepted methods that limit economic possibilities and decision-making.
Bradley A. Hansen
Institutional Entrepreneurship: The Origins of the Farmers' Loan and Trust Company
The Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. is best known as one of the parties in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. (1895), the case that invalidated the 1894 income tax, but from its founding in 1822 until its merger with National City Bank in 1929, Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. was involved in 47 Supreme Court cases, 196 federal appeals court cases, and over 400 state court cases. Why was Farmers' involved in so many significant legal cases? Although the most well known of these cases occurred in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the answer to this question can be found in Farmers' first three decades. Two elements of the firm's history are essential for understanding its activities in the late nineteenth century. First, changing the rules of the game was a central part of the company's approach to business from its earliest years. Second, events during these years led Farmers' into the business of providing financial services for railroads. It was as trustee for railroad mortgages in the second half of the nineteenth century that Farmers' helped to shape the laws governing the duties of corporate trustees, railroad rate regulation, and corporate reorganization.
Heinrich Hartmann
Selling the Organizational Knowledge Field: Personal Networks and the Construction of the Management Press in France and Germany before World War I
From the very beginnings of the twentieth century, the evolving management journals opened new arenas of managerial sciences. Long before the rationalization studies of the 1920s, the institutional and scientific character of this field of organizational sciences was partly shaped in these new forms of specialized media. Based on a transdisciplinary and broadly comparative approach to the history of the links between management schools and entrepreneurial practices in French and German business in the Second Industrialization, this contribution seeks to exploit the construction and the meaning of mediated fields of reflexion on scientific management in both countries. By this perspective, we do not primarily and necessarily mean the spreading and translation of tayloristic management in European contexts. In this paper therefore I seek to discuss both the forms of knowledge that magazines such as Organisation or Mon Bureau tried to deal with as well as the underlying personal networks and their professional interests in promoting a new scientific field. I want to ask, in particular, to what extent commercial interests and personal networks contributed to the evolving management techniques. By this approach, I also try to answer the question of links between "modern" filing systems and new fields of entrepreneurial expertise before World War I.
Jeff Haydu
Public Identities and Social Boundaries among Cincinnati and San Francisco Businessmen, 1880-1910
This paper examines differences in local political engagement and civic discourse among late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century businessmen, and how those differences shaped business approaches to the labor problem. The case studies are Cincinnati and San Francisco. Members of these two business communities differed sharply in their civic practices and discourse. Cincinnati employers tended to be active in civic club and cultural improvement, and they celebrated nonpartisan, "above class" political engagement. Their San Francisco counterparts were less involved in civic uplift, but they also recognized class organization as a natural basis for political representation. These different models of municipal governance reappear in the two communities' understanding of labor's industrial rights.
David Higgins and Dev Gangjee
Trick or Treat? American and Canadian Meat Exports to Britain in the Late Nineteenth Century and the Misuse of Geographical Appellations
It is well established that by the late nineteenth century Britain was the world's biggest importer of foodstuffs. One feature of this trade that has received scant attention from business historians is the misrepresentation of foodstuffs in the British market according to geographical origin. This paper attempts to fill this void by using a case study of American beef in Britain. First, we utilize current debates in business history that emphasize vertical integration and the use of the supply chain to control brand quality. Second, we emphasize the absurdities in prevailing British legislation on merchandise marks and the serious obstacles to their eradication. Finally, we employ new data to calculate the price premiums that could be earned from origin misrepresentation. Our results indicate that the incentive to misrepresent was not simply a function of origin, but also of quality. While it is true that considerable premiums could be earned from "passing off" American beef as British in the early 1890s, this perception becomes increasingly unreliable from the 1900s. In fact, we demonstrate that from the latter period considerable premiums could be earned by misrepresenting Scottish beef as English, as chilled American beef, or as beef imported live and subsequently slaughtered in Britain.
Greg Hise
Municipal Enterprise in Los Angeles, 1890-1930
Few scholars have studied industrialization in Los Angeles. Those who have examined the formation of a robust metropolitan economy attribute this to boosters who strove to attract investment capital and firms and to advance the interests of business within civic affairs. Promoters succeeded at representing the "Southland" as an American Mediterranean and a workingman's arcadia. Their hype masked the fact that industrial growth relied on support from a local state. Scholars' reliance on promotional literature has meant that municipal enterprise remains obscure to the present. Municipal officials managed industrial development with offers of land and access to resources; by drafting policies, amending ordinances, and passing regulation favorable to production enterprises; by defining, organizing, and regulating land markets through zoning. When local officials weighed how and when to deploy the city's capital they acted as investors betting on future growth. Court proceedings, municipal contracts, and city leases record enterprisers consulting with, cajoling, or challenging municipal officials; property records, ordinances, and council minutes document the decisions and actions of elected and appointed officials; petitions to the council tell how Angelenos assessed the costs and benefits associated with industrialism. An integrative analysis of these sources brings the local state into the history of business enterprise. Case studies of food processing, rock and gravel operations, and a smelter have allowed me to interpret how the city used its control of land and its rights to resources such as water, when municipal officials elected to invest the city's capital, and why they did so. Analyzing contests over land use, debates over the cost and benefits associated with specific industries, and competing aspirations for what a modern metropolis ought to be makes real processes such as capital flows and theories of industrial location.
Sheldon Hochheiser
Reaching Varied Audiences from within a Corporation: Practicing History at AT&T
Through this illustrated paper on my activities as corporate historian for AT&T Corp. I offer insights that should be useful to business historians who wish to reach audiences beyond their peers and their students. A corporate historian puts greater emphasis on breadth rather than depth of knowledge. As the only historian at AT&T, I was the company's expert on its entire history. I regularly worked with the media to bring history to the general public. Journalists want to know about history; but they need succinct answers in plain language, or at least longer answers that they can distill into quotes or "sound bites." Moreover, they are working against deadlines. The same deadline concerns characterize internal corporate requests whether from lawyers needing historical information for a case or sales executives preparing RFPs. One needs to provide the answer in the appropriate format, anything from an oral answer to a memo to a folder of primary material. Exhibits have been my largest projects. They are a great way to teach history, but they must also entertain. Unlike students, who need to take courses, the public chooses to visit an exhibit, rather than doing something else.
Peter Hohn
Constructing Business, Constructing Utopia: Historical Perspectives
[Paper]
In 1924, King C. Gillette, millionaire president of the Gillette Safety Razor Company, published The People's Corporation, a final volume in the utopian vision that had consumed him for thirty years. How should historians reconcile the Gillette who was a savvy entrepreneur, shrewd marketer, and successful capitalist with the visionary who indulged in quixotic plans for monolithic cities and singular "world corporations"? I argue that the reconciliation is not difficult. Business activity is a crucial form of social action, and, like all social action, is framed by a vision of the future. By comparing business and utopian writings, I demonstrate that the corporation's attempt to create a unified institutional voice mirrors the utopian attempt to bridge the gap between subjective/symbolic and objective/instrumental communication. Business writing successfully unifies the two extremes, showing that the mundane world of business and the quixotic world of utopia are integral parts of the same experience.
Clifton Hood
Wealth against Wealth: Responses of New York City Elites to the Commercial Reorganization of Manhattan in the Early Nineteenth Century
The population and economy of New York City expanded enormously between 1800 and 1860. By 1860, New York was the largest city in North America and the third largest in the North Atlantic urban system. This sudden transformation drastically altered the lives of New York City elites. It greatly expanded the size and increased the wealth of that elite, it provided infusions of fresh blood, and it blurred the elite's boundaries with other social groups. And, with the entry of crude outsiders like John Jacob Astor who accumulated huge fortunes, this transformation also put a new premium in elite society on materialism generally and especially on success in business enterprises. My paper explores the efforts of city elites (broadly defined) to come to terms with the impacts that these changes had on the organization of their worlds. Engaging the sociological theory of E. Digby Baltzel and others, I examine some people, like James Ferguson De Peyster, who internalized the new values; others, like Cornelius Rapelye Suydam, who tried to balance them with the old; and still others, like H.P. Scoles and William Barclay Parsons, who asserted their credentials by withdrawing from the crass world of business into polite society. This paper is part of a larger project on the cultural and social history of New York's upper class.
Lisa Jacobson
Refashioning Wine Drinkers and Wine Producers: California Wine Promotion during World War II
In 1939, California vintners launched a collective advertising campaign to promote wine consumption and enhance the public image of California wine. California wine remained a suspect commodity, the victim of uneven quality, persistent black markets, and lingering doubts about alcohol's respectability. This paper examines how California vintners promoted a commodity that seemed at once too highbrow and too lowbrow, too foreign yet too easily embraced simply for its psychoactive effects. This paradoxical marketing dilemma accounts for the seemingly contradictory marketing messages that cast wine as an emblem of cosmopolitan sophistication but also invoked populist rhetoric to demystify wine and associate wine drinking with the triumph of democratic tastes. Wine advertising and publicity also romanticized vintners as fashionable farmers to distance producers from their less savory image as merchants of booze. These tensions within the vintners' campaign—between appeals to genteel respectability and democratized tastes and between an industrial ethos of standardization and a small producer ethos of craftsmanship—reflected the industry's internal struggles for self-definition as well as the challenges of addressing skeptical consumers. Wartime disruptions to established food traditions made World War II a pliable moment in which vintners could reinvent and Americanize the meanings of wine.
Matthias Kipping and Francesca Polese
Pioneers of "Fashion" Businesses: Comparing the Origins of Haute Couture and Management Consulting
The purpose of this paper is to compare the origins of the haute couture business and the management consulting industry. While an increasing number of authors have been comparing the rise and decline of new management ideas with fashion cycles, there has so far been little research comparing the actual organizations that produce and sell these "fashions." Do the two types of businesses also exhibit similar characteristics? How were both sectors transformed from a previous, artisan stage into a "modern" business? How did the firms manage to legitimate their roles as purveyors of fashion? What was the role of trade associations in this process? To answer these questions, the paper will look at the formative stages of both haute couture and management consulting from the end of the nineteenth through the first decades of the twentieth century. We will compare a number of crucial characteristics of the early firms in both industries, including their geographic origin, their internal organization, the role of branding and reputation. We will also look at the efforts to create trade associations and their success in defining and defending the boundaries of the industry both toward new entrants and toward outside actors such as the state.
Harry Knowles, Greg Patmore, and John Shields
Backdoor Bankers: The Origins of Citigroup's Australia Operations
Until the mid-1980s the Australian banking industry was officially closed to "foreign" competition, with the Federal treasury and the major domestic private and state-owned banks maintaining a closed shop on the issue of banking licenses. For decades, the closed banking system precluded direct entry into the banking sector by foreign firms. This system was finally ended in 1985, when Labor government treasurer Paul Keating issued licenses to sixteen foreign-owned banks, including the U.S.-owned Citibank. In truth, however, by this juncture Citibank was already a major player in banking in the Asia-Pacific region, one with twenty years of experience in the Australian financial services sector. Drawing on current theoretical insights on MNC diversification, growth, and development, as well as on Australian and American interview testimony and on hitherto untapped archival material, this paper analyzes the details and implications of Citibank's initial penetration of, and expansion within, the Australia financial services sector.
Christopher Kobrak and Jeffrey Fear
Banks on Board: Banks in German and American Corporate Governance, 1870-1914
As part of a series of related papers, the authors examine the conceptual foundations of German and American corporate governance, specifically highlighting the role of banks' relationships to corporations and the stock market. This paper focuses on how the regulatory and macroeconomic environments of the two countries helped shape how banks, especially money-centered bankers, actually interacted with their clients. Prior to 1914, despite many regulatory obstacles, American banks wielded more power over U.S. corporations than the legendary German ones because they had more "opportunities" for intervention. The United States suffered larger booms and busts ("panics" and bankruptcies), had more foreign investment, as well as saw more corporate consolidation than in Germany. By contrast, German companies seemed to have less need for active bank management and largely maintained their distance from activist banks, although German banks could potentially wield great power through board membership and proxy voting. Additionally, German regulators and investors turned more readily to banks to bolster controls on equity and debt capital markets to dampen dangerous speculation of "productive assets." They encouraged banks to play a crucial intermediary role in solving the agency problem in firms and correcting the perceived weaknesses of financial markets—unlike U.S. regulators. Germans also expected banks to save companies from financial distress, but these occasions were more rare in Germany than in the United States. Surprisingly, the debates in Germany and the United States about the role of banks had many common features, yet the two countries increasingly found alternative solutions to classic corporate governance dilemmas. Whereas American regulators tended to suspect banks' insider relationship with companies and stock markets, and then endeavored to destroy this "money trust," German regulators turned to banks as institutional stabilizers to tame market turbulence and speculation. Over time, they bolstered rather than undermined banks' special relationship to firms and capital markets. Key institutional choices set the stage for a much greater divergence during the interwar period.
Yavuz Koese
Doing Business in a Fractioned Market: Nestlé in the Ottoman Empire, 1870-1923
This paper examines the marketing strategy that the Swiss Nestlé company (est. 1868) used in the Ottoman Empire from 1870 to 1923. Though Nestlé from its beginnings adopted a coordinated marketing strategy for its regionally and culturally diverse urban markets, it also had to consider local variations and resistance. The Ottoman Empire was unique as a multiethnic and multireligious society that was facing its demise. The reforms which were carried out by the government in order to prevent the disintegration led to an ever-growing ethnic fragmentation. This paper will contemplate the socio-political transformations and the increasing nationalism the Ottoman state had to face. How did Nestlé respond to this complex marketing environment, and did it affect Nestlé's business and to what extent? The study argues that Nestlé's (relative) success and ability to survive the Ottoman state and continue its business in the newly founded Turkish Republic were due a) to its indirect selling method, which enabled the company to integrate gradually all (available) distributors regardless of their ethnicity, b) to its strategy of advertising intensively to all segments of the multilingual/multiethnic society, c) to its eagerness to approach the Ottoman state during wartime, d) to its "neutrality," which made it possible to sell its products to battling parties, and e) to its long-term strategy to integrate itself into the society; a society that was (forcefully) being transformed from a once multiethnic/multicultural into an (almost) homogenous Turkish one.
Angel Kwolek-Folland, Terry M. Dworkin, Cindy Schipani, and Virginia Maurer
Women and Organizational Leadership: International Dimensions
This paper reports on an ongoing project initiated by scholars at the University of Florida, Indiana University, and the University of Michigan (the Pathways Research Group) to examine how women and men obtain positions of organizational leadership. In particular, it explores some of the international dimensions of business mentoring and networking gleaned from preliminary results of an international survey of MBA graduates. Preliminary survey data suggest that women and men create and utilize mentoring and networking differently, and that there are important differences internationally in how individuals make use of networks and mentors in their leadership careers. In an increasingly global economy, developing a full range of leaders competent to deal with multinational cultural challenges is more important than ever. To the extent that individuals spontaneously rely on networking and mentoring to hone their career skills, it would be useful for scholars—and corporate leaders—to understand how such relationships develop and nurture, or fail to nurture, leadership talents. This report on some of the findings from the Pathways to Leadership focus groups and survey suggests the complexity involved in exploring basic workplace leadership issues for women and men in an international context.
William Lazonick and Öner Tulum
U.S. Biopharmaceutical Finance and the Sustainability of the Biotech Boom
Since the late 1990s the U.S. biotechnology industry has been booming. In Science Business: The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech (2006), Gary Pisano argues that, given the lack of profitability of the industry as a whole, the U.S. biotech boom should not be happening. Yet he also shows that biotech has received substantial funding from venture capital firms and the public stock markets, and recognizes that big pharma has invested in the industry through R&D alliances. Why is smart business money supporting a profitless industry? One part of the answer is the willingness of stock market investors to absorb IPOs long before the companies that go public have generated commercial products. The other part of the answer is that government, not business, is the prime source of investments in the knowledge base that biotechnology companies can tap. We outline the extent of government support for the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry, emphasizing the roles of government research funding, subsidies, regulation, and spending in enabling an industry that depends on investments in a complex knowledge base to exist and grow. Our analysis provides insights into the limits to the sustainability of the U.S. biotech boom. In particular we ask why U.S. biopharmaceutical firms need high drug prices to fund R&D when the most successful firms use so much of their profits to repurchase their own stock.
Frank Leonard
Deconstructing the Railroad Creation Myth of Vancouver
During the period 1884-1889, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CPR) located, acquired, and began development of its Pacific terminus at Vancouver, British Columbia. The activities of the first city archivist transformed this historical sidebar into a central civic myth. Handsome real estate returns from this \"CPR town\" encouraged historians to create narratives of terminus development that followed the arc, if not the details, of the mythic interpretation. This analysis reviews the origin of the myth and challenges the academic writing on the Canadian Pacific and Vancouver that it informs. Like several nineteenth-century American transcontinentals, the Canadian Pacific committed a series of actions at its Pacific terminus that delayed location and hindered acquisition and access. These include initial location of company works far to the west of the present site, the dubious acquisition of the right to expropriate an Indian reserve along the CPR\'s urban right-of-way, and conflict with disappointed investors that almost blocked extension to Vancouver. Only through procedural ingenuity, which some have labeled corruption, did the company finally achieve some of its initial goals at the terminus. Yet these miscues have vanished from the accepted story of the origin of Vancouver, the CPR creation myth.
Andrea Lluch and Norma Lanciotti
Foreign Direct Investment and the Business Environment: The Argentine Experience, 1862-1950
The paper presents a general overview of the flows of Foreign Direct Investment in Argentina until 1950. Before the Great Depression, Argentina qualified as one of the most dynamic economies, attracting a record volume of foreign investment. Economic history literature has mainly pointed out the close economic relationship between Britain and Argentina and the role of British direct investment. However, the role of American and continental European multinationals has not been analyzed in depth. Focusing on the foreign firms doing business in Argentina (in terms of sectors and origins), we identify the activities of the pioneer European companies, followed by the American multinationals after the 1900s. We also analyze the business strategies that companies used to adapt to changing local economic and political contexts from 1860 to 1950. Based on official sources, trade reports, business press, and company records, the paper seeks to contribute to wider debates over the strategies and the role of foreign companies in host economies. The paper also aims at reviewing business-government relations in Latin America.
Thorsten Lübbers
Incentives and Innovation: Working Contracts of Researchers in Germany's High-Tech Industries, 1877-1913
In this paper, we investigate the working contracts of researchers in Germany's high-tech industries (i.e. chemical and pharmaceutical industry as well as electrical engineering) during the Second Industrial Revolution. In particular, we examine if and in how far principal-agent problems between companies and their in-house researchers were mitigated by incentive-compatible payment schemes in these contracts. Thus, we focus on (i) the size of fixed salaries, (ii) the extent and structure of performance-related compensations offered by companies and realized by employees, (iii) the assessment base of performance-related compensations, (iv) the evolution of performance-based compensations over time, and (v) income differentials within and between companies. Furthermore, we attempt to get a grip on the effects of different payment schemes. The institutional framework of our investigation is set by the all-German patent law that was enacted in 1877 and, in contrast to the regulations in the United States, was not based on the principle of invention but on the principle of registration. As a result, companies could seek patents for inventions made by their in-house researchers in the company's name.
Joshua MacFadyen
Sodbusting and Trust Building: Flax and Linseed Oil in Canada and the United States, 1860-1930
An increase in postbellum paint consumption was responsible for the expansion of linseed oil production and the flax seed cultivation so central to it. Flax was a sodbusting crop, and from 1860 to 1920 the center of production moved steadily toward the northern Great Plains and Canadian prairies. Fearing that flax cultivation would leave the Northwest entirely, a group of linseed oil crushers led by National Lead, Rockefeller's American Linseed Oil, and what would become Archer-Daniels-Midland campaigned to "save the flax crop." Plant pathologists at North Dakota Agricultural College had recently discovered a fungus that was literally at the root of flax's dislocation, and the linseed oil crushers helped them distribute their findings and develop resistant strains. Scientific discoveries helped overcome environmental constraints, yet even elaborate propaganda could not keep Northwest farmers growing flax when prices were low and disease was high. The trusts and other integrated enterprises were likely aware of this; the real return for their investment in flax science was information about the conditions, yield, and location of the Northwest flax crop.
Noam Maggor
Gilded-Age Tax Reform and Boston's Politics of Property, 1865-1885
Building on the recent re-discovery of the diversity of business strategies that underpinned American industrialization, this paper explores how managerial and proprietary forms of capitalism clashed in the sphere of public policy, primarily in debates over municipal expenditure and taxation. During the last decades of the nineteenth century, fiscal reform efforts in American cities focused on exempting commercial property from taxation and restraining government expenditure. In Boston, these campaigns pitted reformers from the city's financial elite against a coalition of small-scale entrepreneurs and other "men of moderate means." As elites mobilized to make the city more hospitable to large-scale capital investment and to long-haul railroad traffic, lower-middle-class Bostonians instead pushed for the expansion of social services and public infrastructure, which supported the proliferation of urban proprietary businesses. More than a conflict over the details of the tax code, this struggle mirrored a broader contest between competing visions of political economy, touching on fundamental questions such as the role of democratic politics in a modern economy, the limits to sovereignty in a free society, the origins of private property, and the relationship between the state and the economy.
Alexander Magoun
Engaging Audiences beyond the Academy on the Business of Innovation
In 2003, 27 percent of Americans aged 25 and older had a bachelor's degree; even fewer studied business history. The absence of scholarly books among business history bestsellers reinforces an impression of irrelevance. Yet the popularity of published business history indicates larger audiences that would appreciate scholarly contributions. How can we engage those publics in more thoughtful consideration of the history of business? This presentation offers one model of engagement. The David Sarnoff Library receives 600 inquiries a year from amateur and professional researchers, who usually have a superficial understanding of Sarnoff and the company he led, the Radio Corporation of America. As a patent monopoly, RCA became a target of antitrust opinion during Sarnoff's career, while the tragic lives of two inventors, Edwin Armstrong and Philo Farnsworth, fuel simplistic portraits of complex stories of idealism, invention, innovation, regulation, profit, and competition. I will explain how I have used grassroots techniques to propagate a more nuanced view of Sarnoff and RCA. It remains to be seen whether these will temper the reflexive appeal of lone inventors versus a corporate monopoly, but there is some evidence to indicate the emergence of new perspectives.
Jeffrey T. Manuel
A Techno-Political-Economic-Legal-Environmental History of the Taconite Industry
The taconite industry is an elaborate complex of mining, shipping, and processing facilities that turn a flint-like rock into iron-rich pellets used as inputs for the iron and steel industry. The industry emerged in the mid-twentieth century and replaced the older "natural" iron ore mining operations in the Lake Superior iron-mining district. Focusing on Edward W. Davis, an engineer who coordinated early taconite research, and the Reserve Mining Company, a joint venture that produced taconite for Armco and Republic Steel from the 1950s to the 1980s, this paper argues that the physical principle of magnetism and an argument about the rapid depletion of natural iron ore were essential to Davis's innovations and the development of the Reserve Mining Company. Additionally, the central role of magnetism and the ore depletion argument in Reserve Mining's development led to unusual consequences, including the decline of natural ore operations and a shift away from mining in areas near non-magnetic ore bodies. Focusing on these essential but often overlooked elements within the history of one firm, this paper considers how material objects, physical properties, and ideas are enlisted during the innovation process and offers an example of how materials and ideas can shape industrial development.
Richard Marens
Surfing the Long Wave: The Academic Construction and Transformation of the Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility
The history of the construct of "Corporate Social Responsibility" closely tracks the evolution of American hegemony in the twentieth century by following Arrighi's model, in which a hegemonic society emerges as the leading producer of tradable goods, crests as the world's dominant political power, and declines behind a hypertrophy of financial activity. Following World War I, the social responsibility of the American corporation was defined by a group of politicians, reformers, economists, and labor officials as promoting labor-management cooperation in the interests of promoting social peace and enhancing productivity. After World War II, academics at major universities with backgrounds in government service and Keynesian economics broadened the definition of corporate responsibility to include respect for a pluralistic political system and independent government, thus providing an alternative model to Communism. Finally, in the 1980s, after the ideological counterrevolution aimed at labor unions and government regulation, a new cadre of business philosophers promoted the nonconsequentialist ethics of Kant and Mill as a corporate social responsibility, thus conceding the power and autonomy of corporate executives in the interest of protecting corporate "stakeholders" from financial activists and their academic allies, a hope that remains unrealized as American economic hegemony has continued its decline.
Chris Marquis
The Dynamics of Organizational Imprinting: Capabilities and Acquisitions in the U.S. Banking Industry
In this paper, I explore the nature and dynamics of how the past continues to influence the present by examining how both resources at founding and historically imprinted organizational capabilities exert a persistent effect on the actions of U.S. banking firms. I study how variation in institutional, technical and economic environments in which banks are founded account for differences in their propensity to grow by acquisition in more recent times. While resources at founding provide a general legacy for firms that lead to subsequent growth, I suggest that banks founded in environments that fostered inter-unit coordination should subsequently be more likely to engage in growth strategies that require coordination such as acquisitions. Further the effects of these initial capabilities-building environments may be modified by the available resources. Controlling for contemporary conditions, results show that banks founded in states in with greater economic resources and where branching was permitted are currently more likely to acquire other firms, and that the effect of branching at founding is modified by the development of technical infrastructure, and economic conditions such as state wealth and urbanization. Contributions to understanding effects of founding periods and the intersection of ecology and strategy are discussed.
William Mass
Strategic Organization Building, Synergy, and Rivalry in Regional Planning: NERCOM, 1967-1980
The New England Regional Commission (NERCOM) was one of eight regional commissions (RCs) established by the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965. Preceded and survived by the still operating Appalachian Regional Commission, NERCOM operated from 1967 to 1981. While the RCs varied greatly, over time NERCOM transformed itself significantly due to political and regional developmental challenges. Recently the U.S. House passed legislation to fund five recently constituted RCs for five years at $1.2 billion. Why may RCs be reemerging and what political and programmatic lessons from NERCOM's experience are relevant? This paper reviews NERCOM's performance and legacy, including collaboration, rivalry, and complementarities among regional planning organizations and federal agencies. New England's regional opposition to President Carter's energy policy was singularly significant. NERCOM facilitated forums, focused local and federal attention to priority policy concerns, and built consensus among business, labor, and academic committee participants. NERCOM provided organizational support and synergistic benefits to other New England organizations and activities even amidst organizational rivalries. In particular, the New England Governors Conference and the New England Council, the nation's oldest regional Chamber of Commerce, were most affected. Other regional institutions in-process withered only to be readdressed in later decades.
Jennifer Malia McAndrew
Why Working Women Became Pin-up Girls: The Construction and Representation of Female Bodies in U.S. Factories during World War II
This work explains the meanings and significance of female beauty culture in the industrial workplace during World War II. Using employee publications and several corporate archives, I document the popularity of pin-up contests, beauty pageants, and beautification workshops that employers hosted for their newly hired white female workforce during the war. I argue that the broadcasting of ordinary women's beautified and sexualized bodies in U.S. factories maintained gender difference and facilitated gender hierarchy at a time when women had the opportunity to attain more desirable occupations and gain economic power in the workplace.
Elisabetta Merlo
"Suiting Up for Easy Street": Armani and the Emergence of Milan as the Capital of Ready-to-Wear
In 1982 Giorgio Armani became the first fashion designer to appear on the cover of Time magazine since Christian Dior in the 1950s. Behind his image, there was a picture of a model wearing the unstructured jacket. By emphasizing the novelty brought into the history of fashion by the unstructured jacket, the paper aims to stress that business history has to bridge a wide range of research fields in order to explain the strategies pursued by fashion corporations. It will focus on just two of them. The first one is related to the supply side and concerns the transformation of the Italian clothing industry from an industry made of numerous artisan enterprises producing made-to-measure garments for local markets to an industry coping with the challenge of globalization. The second one is related to the demand side and concerns the evolution of consumption patterns that allowed the innovation in the way of dressing introduced by Armani to ripen in a well-defined urban environment—Milan in the 1970s and the 1980s—and subsequently to achieve an international standing. The two perspectives share a common feature represented by the ambiguous nature of fashion, which is deeply rooted in time and space and, at the same time, acts as a powerful means of cultural homogenization on a worldwide scale.
Michael Møller and Niels-Henrik Topp
Carl Frederik Tietgen and Privatbanken in Copenhagen, 1857-1896
[Paper]
The Private Bank of Copenhagen, founded in 1857, was the first major Danish commercial bank. It is interesting both because of its powerful managing director, a "hero" in Danish banking history, C. F. Tietgen, and because of the company's bylaws, apparently chosen to solve the same corporate governance problems we struggle with today. There is a close relationship between Tietgen and the development of modern banking and the formation of modern joint- stock companies in Denmark. In the many historical accounts of Tietgen and Privatbanken, no one has attempted to determine whether Tietgen was a successful manager of Privatbanken from the shareholders' perspective. In this article, we examine the corporate governance structure of Privatbanken and estimate the returns of Privatbanken and its three main competitors based on the bank's dividends and monthly fluctuations in share prices. We conclude that there is no evidence that Tietgen was an outstanding managing director of Privatbanken.
Bethany Moreton
From Arkansas to Nicaragua: Wal-Mart's Private Sector Foreign Policy
Today more than half of the world's one hundred largest economies are corporations rather than countries. While the relationship between the two forms of organization is hotly debated—do multinationals supersede nation-states or do they reinvigorate them?—there is no ignoring companies' parastate functions, from private armies to company-based immigration schemes to telecom satellite systems that rival those of the Pentagon. One area that invites serious reflection is the foreign policy that individual corporations undertake beyond democratic controls. Wal-Mart, the largest corporation on earth, offers a thought-provoking example in its founding family's charitable international scholarship program. Launched in the mid-1980s to combat the Communist threat in Central America, the Walton International Scholarship Program has helped win hearts and minds to a Christian vision of neoliberal restructuring, creating an ideological network that reaches beyond supply chains and suggests a "Bentonville Consensus" that shadows and enables the "Washington Consensus."
Petra Moser
Why Don't Inventors Patent?
This paper argues that the ability to keep innovations secret may be a key determinant of patenting. To test this hypothesis, the paper examines a newly collected data set of more than 7,000 American and British innovations at four world's fairs between 1851 and 1915. Exhibition data show that the industry where an innovation is made is the single most important determinant of patenting. Urbanization, high innovative quality, and low costs of patenting also encourage patenting, but these influences are small compared with industry effects. If the effectiveness of secrecy is an important factor in inventors' patenting decisions, scientific breakthroughs, which facilitate reverse-engineering, should increase inventors' propensity to patent. The discovery of the periodic table in 1869 offers an opportunity to test this idea. Exhibition data show that patenting rates for chemical innovations increased substantially after the introduction of the periodic table, both over time and relative to other industries.
Bianca A. Murillo
"The African Native Is a Keen Buyer": Advertising, Market Research, and Imagining Consumers in Ghana, 1930-1960
Beginning in the 1930s, British trading firms in West Africa began a process of imagining their African consumers. Firms such as United Africa Company (UAC) grew increasingly interested in understanding what they termed as the "African mind." In order to gain knowledge about local consumption practices, UAC undertook large-scale marketing research projects and began testing advertising styles on their own African employees. In addition, the company developed new selling techniques, such as offering special promotions, sending out propaganda vans, and hiring teams of product demonstrators. To date, historical research on advertising has been dominated by a focus on Britain, Europe, and the United States. This literature argues that advertisements reflected social fantasies and that methods used to market consumer goods encouraged not simply the buying of individual products, but changes in lifestyles. Within the past ten years, scholars of areas considered the "non-West" have contributed to this discussion and shed light on the history of colonialism, the activities of multinationals, and the role of globalization in shaping local consumer choices. Drawing upon UAC company records, the local press, and oral interviews, this paper explores how the relationships among UAC, its African employees, and its everyday customers shaped local consumption practices. In addition, this paper turns the question "How did UAC imagine Ghanaian consumers?" upside down, and asks, "How did Ghanaians imagine UAC?" I argue that the multiple and often contradictory ways that local people have imagined these large foreign trading firms in their everyday lives has played a large role in the social and cultural meanings attributed to goods and gives us a better understanding of how and why these notions have changed over time.
Lucy Newton
"Touting for business": British Banks and Their Customers, 1920-1970
This paper considers the marketing and public relations activities of the "Big Five" British clearing banks in the period from 1920 to 1970, and in particular the relationships with their customers. British banks operated in an effective oligopoly during this period. They also faced government-imposed restrictions on lending after 1945. These factors meant that banks were severely constrained in their ability to offer new products and to differentiate themselves from their competitors, as well as limiting choices for consumers. As a result, bank managements had to rely heavily upon building brand image and utilizing marketing techniques in order to differentiate themselves and to attract customers. For many bankers such techniques were new and unpopular—they were not used to communicating with their customers. This paper draws on sources from bank archives, newspapers, and public inquiries to analyze these marketing campaigns and their impact on customers. The paper builds on the growing literature concerned with corporations and their consumers.
Hiroyuki Okamuro
Survival of New Firms in an Industry Agglomeration: An Empirical Analysis Using Tokyo Telephone Directories from the 1980s
[Paper]
My purpose in this essay is to examine the impact of industry agglomeration on the survival of new firms, using a unique dataset from Tokyo business telephone directories in the 1980s. I focus on the largest agglomeration of the metal and machinery industries in Japan, Ota Ward in Tokyo, at its peak. I found 1,603 start-up firms in the manufacturing sector in Ota in three cohorts in the first half of the 1980s, checked their survival five years later, and econometrically analyzed the influence of industry agglomeration on their survival. The empirical results suggest the positive and significant effects of industry agglomeration on start-up firms' chance of survival, but only for the sub-sample of joint-stock companies.
Richard Orsi
Hear That (Police) Whistle Blow: New Railroad Crime and Violence, Corporate Responses, and the Southern Pacific Company, 1860s-1900s
As railroads, especially in the American West, built and expanded exponentially in service volume and valuation, the companies faced outbreaks of internal crime. Employees sabotaged or stole passengers' baggage, shippers' cargo, and company property, sometimes working with outside individuals or crime rings. Outsiders bribed lower-level administrators, shipping agents, land agents, and surveyors for illicit favorable treatment. Meanwhile, from the start, railroad people, equipment, and property were invaded by veritable hordes of outside criminals. Pick-pockets, robbers, extortionists, swindlers, and crooked gamblers, sometimes operating in gangs whose organized deviltry reached out along hundreds of miles of tracks, took to the trains and haunted the depots and surrounding neighborhoods, all preying on the property and relatively well-to-do persons that railroads concentrated. Sometimes passengers were murdered. Hoboes by the tens of thousands, again often living and moving in packs, broke into trains to seek free passage and stole, damaged, and set fire to cargo and company property, frequently attacking and occasionally murdering railroad employees. Other criminals broke into railroad buildings and cars and stole cargo from yards, again occasionally assaulting or killing employees. Notorious, but few, were incidents of labor sabotage and violence directed at the companies, especially during the great Pullman Strike of 1894. Along with the above examples of chronic crime, there were, of course, the sensationalized "train robberies," dramatic episodes often touched off when perpetrators derailed and/or blew up trains. Commonly seen as quaint "frontier" aberrations, train robberies actually persisted, and may have increased, in the first several decades of the twentieth century. Initially, railroads responded haltingly and haphazardly to the new, apparently intractable, crime and violence. Frontier public law enforcement agencies were typically non-existent or loosely organized, often ineffective, and local in jurisdiction, while railroads by definition transcended localities. Gradually, as crime spread, the railroads began to establish cooperative arrangements with existing official law enforcement agencies and to contract with private detective firms. Because so much of the problem was internal to the railroad, its people and property, enforcement by outside agencies or contractors proved tardy, inconsistent, and costly. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the railroads developed internal, specialized, and institutionalized police and detective forces, constantly improved by modernizing crime-fighting and communications technologies, as well as more involved, ongoing relations with public agencies (including cross-deputization). The Southern Pacific Company, the first large, and by the early 1900s the largest, western railroad, is the focus.
Julia Ott
When Wall Street Met Main Street, 1890–1932
"When Wall Street Met Main Street, 1890-1932" recovers the lost history of the American investor and locates the origins of the belief in the ability of laissez-faire financial markets to provide economic security and justice for all. Although most assume that a mass investment culture emerged only recently, this study tells an earlier and more complex story. Early in the twentieth century, American society experienced economic consolidation and volatility, mounting inequality, surging immigration, radicalism, and a reduction in the ranks of independent proprietors. In response, certain corporations, a range of financial institutions, sundry opinion-makers, and even the federal government took deliberate steps to promote universal securities ownership. Securities marketers and their ideological allies envisioned that mass investment would sustain individual ownership and opportunity, the bases of political liberty. They devised retail-oriented institutions and marketing techniques; they advanced new theories that elevated the individual investor as the central figure in the political and economic system. However, they often disagreed about what role, if any, the state should play in promoting universal investment and protecting citizen-investors. At stake were fundamental questions about the distribution of power and the fate of democracy under industrial corporate capitalism. Contemporary neo-liberalism presumes that laissez faire markets—particularly financial markets—best allocate resources and facilitate every individual's quest for opportunity, prosperity, and security. Because scholars have failed to grasp history behind this set of ideas, they have been unable to account for its tenacity. Ultimately, this dissertation illustrates that the demographics, politics, and interests of "capital" are not predetermined, and must never be taken for granted.
Laura J. Owen
Part-Time Employment in the United States and Canada: Post-World War II Trends
Part-time employment increased in both the United States and Canada in the latter half of the twentieth century, but the rate of increase was much faster in Canada, particularly after the mid-1970s. These diverging part-time employment rates contributed to different trends in average annual hours worked in the two countries. This analysis examines the role of labor supply factors (including the age and gender composition of the work force), labor demand factors (linked to economic growth and business cycles), and the impact of unions on the different trends in part-time employment. The results of an econometric analysis of the labor supply, labor demand, and union effects are interpreted within the context of the two countries' different histories of employment policies and practices. The preliminary findings are: (1) Canadian women have continued to see part-time employment as an attractive choice; (2) the cost of choosing part-time employment is higher in the United States; and (3) the structures and rules of government programs may affect the choice of part-time versus full-time employment.
Susie J. Pak
The Social Nature of Economic Interests: The Network of J.P. Morgan & Co.
This paper considers what the study of identity formation can bring to our understanding of J.P. Morgan & Co., the most important investment bank of the twentieth century. Historical figures do not usually see their identities as anything but natural because they can tell the stories of their lives as a progression of events from a clear perspective. This paper introduces social network analysis (SNA), a subfield of sociology, to offer a new perspective on J.P. Morgan & Co. and challenge entrenched ideas about its history, makeup, and identity. It presents an analysis of the standards by which J.P. Morgan & Co. chose its partners and the methods through which it maintained unity as a firm. The paper argues that studying the creation of cohesive identities in a modern corporate environment reveals social values and interests embedded in the structure of relations between economic actors and groups.
Charles Postel
Populist Incorporation: Reform Movements and Business Models in the Gilded Age
The Farmers' Alliance provided the organizational foundation of the Populist insurgency. The National Cordage Company held a monopoly in binding twine and other essential farm supplies. In 1891, the leaders of the Farmers' Alliance and the managers of National Cordage formed the National Union Company, a business partnership that promised to merge the capital of a giant Wall Street corporation with the organized power of the nation's farmers. Although short-lived, the National Union Company represented one of the many symbiotic relationships between the reform organizations of the Populist coalition and the burgeoning corporate institutions of Gilded Age America. To understand Populist thinking about business and commerce it is essential to return to Richard Hofstadter's characterization of the "country businessman." This term implies neither curse nor praise, but rather it is how farm reformers of the time defined their own position. And it is the first premise of the business models that they pursued. The Populists believed, as did many Americans, that the future lay with organizational consolidation and economies of scale. True, farm reformers attacked concentrated wealth, and they had friends like the journalist Henry Demarest Lloyd, who wrote scathing exposes of corporate giants. Still, farm reformers recognized the advantages of size, concentration, and corporate organization. Cooperation and incorporation were closely intertwined in the Populist imagination and in their business enterprises. In the fusion of the two they hoped that even the small producers would gain access to economies of scale, standardization, technology, and regulated markets.
Joseph Pratt and Tom McKinney
Big Oil's Search for Alternate Fuels in the 1970s and 1980s
The energy crises of the 1970s raised both oil prices and fears of long-term shortages of oil in the industrial nations. Assuming that oil supplies would be increasingly difficult to find despite steady future increases in oil prices, the major oil companies aggressively diversified into a variety of energy-related ventures, including synfuels, coal, uranium, and renewables. Each company developed its own energy strategy while the U.S. government sought with little success to pull together a comprehensive national energy policy. The dramatic drop in oil prices in the 1980s brought an abrupt end to many alternative energy projects. As a result, despite the enthusiasm to move beyond oil in this era, few of the initiatives to do so ultimately succeeded. The impact of this cycle of boom and bust in oil prices on investments in alternatives to oil is illustrated by the case of shale oil. Numerous major oil companies saw excellent long-term opportunities in developing the energy potential of the vast deposits of oil shale in the western United States. In its quest for domestic sources of energy, the federal government began offering substantial subsidies for the development of western oil shale. For a brief period beginning in the late 1970s, the companies and the government cooperatively launched a massive program to create a commercial oil shale industry. But the program collapsed quickly with the decline of oil prices. The history of the failure of business and government to create a coordinated long-term approach for producing oil shale in response to the energy crises of this earlier era offers a useful context for understanding the energy challenges of the present and the future.
Daniel Raff
History as Explanation, Explanation in Business History, and Paid Employment in Business Schools
Business school appointments are generally in part a matter of top-down Dean's Office-driven decisions about which subject areas get lines, but are crucially also a matter of decisions by departmental and even more finely disaggregated groups of faculty members concerning what constitutes valuable teaching and interesting research. The questions of how business history can be taught and how business history research can be understood and positioned in the context of other subjects' research styles are of great importance in these settings. They are a matter of connections for business history across disciplines and to some extent across intellectual traditions. The central claim of this paper is that while a sort of "High Social Science" style dominates much of business school faculty research, business history has much more in common with the vestigial parts of the business school curriculum that the students value more than is generally appreciated by entities with appointment powers. This can, I argue, be developed and expounded in ways that make sense to more discipline-based electors and potential colleagues even as it is not the sort of work they would do themselves.
David Raley
The Origins of a Corporate Giant: Tennessee Gas and Transmission's Wartime Pipeline
[Paper]
By late 1943, demand for natural gas in the heavily industrialized northern Appalachian region of the United States was outstripping supply. With local gas fields in deep decline, industries, entrepreneurs, and the federal government looked outside the region for new supplies to keep the defense plants in operation. Formed to meet these demands for gas, Tennessee Gas and Transmission (later Tenneco) rushed to build its 1,265-mile pipeline to connect Texas gas fields with the factories, plants, and homes of Appalachia. Facing labor shortages, unusually severe weather, lack of equipment, and regulatory hurdles, Tennessee struggled to finish the pipeline by the winter of 1944. The completion of the pipeline on schedule and within budget marks a noteworthy beginning for a company that would pioneer the conglomeration movement following World War II.
Jonathan Rees
The "Natural" Price of Natural Ice in America, 1880-1910
[Paper]
Adam Smith's concept of "natural price," the price of a good's raw materials and labor without producer profit, illustrates the way that many American consumers saw natural ice during the industry's heyday. Because ice cost nothing to manufacture and was nearly everywhere each winter, customers did not understand price fluctuations. In response, ice harvesters and dealers began a dialogue with consumers, explaining their cost structure and the vicissitudes of the market. Among the factors they cited for charging higher prices were weather, rising demand, and the need to make a profit to stay in business. By educating consumers, they helped the buying public to accept that the interaction of supply and demand determines the price of goods, not some innate feeling for the worth of a good based on its perceived costs. The impact of this dialogue illustrates the influence of culture on pricing across industries.
James Reveley and Simon Ville
Bridging Organizations, Bridging Disciplines: A Comparative Study of New Zealand Industry Associations
This paper seeks to reduce a widening gap between the disciplines of business history and organization studies by focusing on the neglected role of industry associations as a form of inter-organizational bridging mechanism. Recent studies emphasize the role of industry associations in mitigating market imperfections rather than as mere rent seekers. Based on this insight, the paper provides a comparative historical assessment of two industry associations within the same commodity export supply chain. This assessment throws light on the reasons why one association performed more effectively than the other, as an inter-firm communicating and coordinating device. In particular, associative strength is contingent upon convergent member interests, the securing of club rather than public good benefits, and the ability to adapt over time to changed external conditions. Given organization studies scholars' ongoing interest in forms of organization that fall between markets and hierarchies, the paper demonstrates how a business history perspective facilitates understanding of the inception, development, and demise of bridging organizations.
Paul W. Rhode, Fabian Lange, and Alan Olmstead
The Impact of the Boll Weevil, 1892-1932
The boll weevil is America's most celebrated agricultural pest. We assemble new county-level panel data on the insect's geographic spread and on farm activity to investigate the weevil's effects on the southern economy between 1892 and 1932. Our study provides sharp estimates of the full time path of the pest's local impacts. We find that instead of diversifying away from cotton in anticipation of the weevil's appearance, farmers attempted to squeeze one last large crop out of their land just prior to contact. Upon arrival, the weevil had a large negative impact on production that required up to five years to be fully manifest and that did not disappear within our study period. Cotton yields fell substantially; acreage declined by less. In response, farmers did not take land out of agricultural use, but instead shifted to other crops. We also find striking effects on land values and population movements, indicating that the pest's spread redistributed economic activity within the South.
Lucas Richert
Voluntary Compliance as Regulatory Policy: Inside the Food and Drug Administration in 1981-1982
The Reagan administration's plan to limit the size and scope of government, reduce excessive regulation, and promote increased cooperation between businesses and U.S. regulatory agencies had far-reaching effects. This article investigates and evaluates the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1981 and 1982. I argue that the implementation of a voluntary compliance policy, coupled with substantial resource cuts, marked a significant transformation at the FDA, and this policy in turn produced varied results that lent weight to both its critics and its supporters. The case of Oraflex demonstrated the dangers of over-reliance on business and industry to align its interests with the American public and the FDA. Yet, the revoking of rules providing for patient package inserts proved that cooperation between the FDA and business was a reasonable pretext to roll back existing regulations. Voluntary compliance signaled a stark shift in regulatory policy at the FDA, and this article aims to furnish an understanding of how this policy was established and what it meant for the future of FDA drug regulation.
Christine Rosen
Business Leadership and Environmental Reform: Connecting the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries
My paper is a speculative think piece rather than a conventional historical research paper. My goal is to draw a connection between the role that business leaders played as advocates of air pollution regulation in late nineteenth- and very early twentieth-century America and recent initiatives by some American corporate leaders, venture capitalists, and business entrepreneurs to take leadership roles in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect against climate change and other environmental problems. I want explore the possibility of using history to break through one of the stereotypes that has congealed around the battles that have raged over pollution regulation in the United States over the last forty-five years—namely, the idea that businessmen are by definition the enemy of environmental protection. My cases will suggest that the story is much more complicated.
Janette Rutterford, David Green, Alastair Owens, and Josephine Maltby
Women Investors in England and Wales: A Class on their Own?
Until recently, little attention has been given to the history of investors and, in particular, women investors. This paper presents findings from a major new study of shareholding in England and Wales between 1870 and 1930 that forms part of an ESRC-sponsored research program on women, wealth, and investment. Drawing upon a sample of over 30,000 stockholders from over 220 share registers of 47 companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange it explores the structure and composition of men and women's holdings in ordinary stock, preferred stock, and fixed interest securities across a range of sectors. The study is innovative in its size and time period covered, as well as its cross-sectional and time series nature. We note a democratisation of investment in terms of a reduction in average shareholding over time as well as a less local preference for investment. We also document a major increase in women's investment over the period with marked gender differences with respect to type of security, sector, location of head office and of activity.
Paul Schmitz
The Marketing of History: The Case of D'Agostino Supermarkets
Patsy and Nicholas D'Agostino came to the United States in the early twentieth century and, like many Italian immigrants, sought to make their fortunes in the produce business. Within three decades, the brothers rose from New York's pushcarts to win unexpected wealth and celebrity as supermarket entrepreneurs. Various public commentators promoted their "rags-to-riches" tale as confirmation of the virtues of post–World War II America. And as the company matured from Italian grocery to cosmopolitan retailer, the D'Agostino family utilized its history as immigrant merchants—and its status as emblems of the American Dream—to identify itself to prospective customers. For the consumer, the longevity and reputation of a business can have as strong an influence as price or quality of merchandise. A company can use its historic identity to reassure customers that it is neither faceless nor heartless, but will act in their best interests because it shares their domestic values and traditions. The case of D'Agostino Supermarkets provides an instructive model of how personal and family history, as well as ethnic identity, can be potent marketing tools, providing retailers with a valuable form of cultural capital.
Benjamin Schwantes
"Can All Be As Safe By Any Other System?" The Failure of Managerial Reform Efforts in the Post–Civil War American Railroad Industry
Collisions, and other operating accidents, were common on post–Civil War American railroads. Nevertheless, many railroad managers strongly resisted public calls to reform operational management practices. Railroad officials defended American management practices as far more cost-effective and efficient than practices used in other nations. They further asserted that the American system fulfilled their specific needs, whereas other models lacked flexibility and would require the costly expansion of communications and dispatching facilities. In this paper I will investigate why many American railroad managers strongly resisted efforts to reform operating practices within their industry in the post–Civil War era. I will highlight the managerial turmoil within the American railroad industry in the decades after the Civil War, and argue that reform efforts largely failed for financial and organizational reasons. American managers resented the implication that their operating practices were flawed, and failed to improve safety and efficiency until states and the federal government began directly regulating the industry. Ultimately, the paper will explore new scholarly ground in the field of business history by shedding light on the challenges faced by American railroad managers in the late nineteenth century, and the tumultuous interplay between conservative officials and dedicated industry reformers.
William R. Scott
Elements of Style: Changing Business Practices and the California Menswear Industry, 1930-1960
Between 1930 and 1960, men's styles became increasingly informal and the three-piece suit, once a male uniform, became associated with work and the organization. Southern California rose from obscurity to become the world's second-largest garment production center during this period, largely by producing casual clothing for men and women. This paper looks at the business practices that accompanied the transformation in men's styles. Leisurewear's rapid obsolescence and the necessity of responding rapidly to consumer demand required more flexible production practices than did suits, underwear, and overcoats. Companies had to prioritize marketing to achieve success. Notably, during the same period that economic historians tout as the "era of Fordism" and the epoch of the managerial corporation, the growth of the Los Angeles market represented a triumph of small-scale, un-unionized manufacturing, of batch production, and of patronage-driven, informal financing.
Hiroshi Shimizu and Takashi Hirao
Collaborative Research Networks in Semiconductor Laser Technology, 1960-2000: A Comparative Perspective on Networks and Breakthroughs in the United States and Japan
[Paper]
The semiconductor laser was one of the most important technologies underlying the dramatic changes that took place during the last half of the twentieth century in information technology, and it has been the most widely used laser since the 1980s. In this essay, we investigate collaborative networks and breakthroughs by exploring collaborative research in semiconductor laser technology from 1960 to 2000. Development of this technology began in the early 1960s; by the 1980s, inter-organizational collaborative research was occurring. By mapping breakthroughs, we show that, since the 1980s, organizations involved in inter-organizational research produced many of the breakthroughs. By exploring six examples, we observe different patterns in network formation in the United States and Japan. In the United States, many "star" engineers were involved in inter-organizational collaboration and played a nodal role in the networks before achieving significant breakthroughs, whereas in Japan, the star engineers played a nodal role only after achieving a breakthrough.
Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb
Industrial Policy and the Manufacture of News in Britain, 1870-1940
If news is to represent the marketplace of opinion, is it best left to the visible hand of managerial capitalism or should an invisible hand guide it? How have industrial policy decisions concerning communications technology affected news production? This paper investigates how the nationalization of telegraphy and broadcasting influenced the shape of the news industry in Britain between 1870 and 1940. I find that in both instances a commitment to sustain the autonomy of individual entrepreneurs and a desire to avoid both predatory pricing and costly duplication led to the creation of inclusive but monopolistic news organizations, namely the Press Association and the BBC. I explore how the relationship among these organizations, the General Post Office, other news agencies, and the newspapers they served shaped the manufacture of news. I conclude that the system of news manufacture in Britain, although inefficient, avoided concentration.
Howard R. Stanger
Failing at Retailing (and Other Things): The Decline of the Larkin Company, 1918-1941
Begun as a manufacturer of soaps in 1875, in Buffalo, NY, the Larkin Company grew to become one of the largest mail-order companies by 1900. Larkin grew phenomenally during the 1910s, owing to its club-based selling scheme, and become a large vertically-integrated, but hybrid company. Its sales peaked in 1920. Beginning in 1918, Larkin joined the chain store movement by opening two grocery chains, a few departments stores, gasoline stations, and other retail stores during the 1920s. But both external (the decline of the farm economy, the Depression, changes in women\'s work, and the development of the supermarket) and internal (dissension in the executive ranks, a top-heavy and centralized structure, and poor strategic decision-making and execution) factors led to a slow decline after 1920 that accelerated during the Depression decade. By 1941, the company was liquidated, although it limped on into the 1960s as a warehouse company with a small mail-order and retail division. I conduct an autopsy of the company to examine the causes of Larkin\'s death in the context of recent work on organizational failure in organizational studies.
David Stearns
Networks, Boundaries, and Gateways: The Visa Payment System as a Source of Industry Change
In the second half of the twentieth century, the American banking and payments industries underwent a rather radical transformation. This paper will argue that one significant source of these changes was the very design of our consumer payment systems. Transactional networks, such as payment systems, link various actors together to perform work. When those networks are extended across existing social boundaries, the designers often use a "gateway" node to bridge the previously separate networks. Although the gateway allows each network to remain semi-autonomous, it also enforces rules by which transactions are allowed to cross the boundary. Those wishing actively to defend the boundary will strive to make the gateway noticeable, obvious, and costly to cross (as in the case of "foreign" ATM fees); those wishing to undermine the boundary will attempt to keep the gateway as seamless as possible (as in the case of Visa and the Merrill Lynch Cash Management Account). Seamless gateways often tend to erode existing conceptual boundaries, eventually rendering them simply cosmetic or even meaningless.
Marc Stern
The Fitness Movement and the Fitness Center Industry, 1960-2000
[Paper]
Since the 1960s, the nature of recreational physical fitness activity in the United States has changed considerably. By 2000, private fitness centers were ubiquitous features on the American landscape. Increasingly centralized ownership characterized the field from 1970 onward. Men and, more significantly, women, joined, left, and rejoined these ever-more mechanized establishments. Images of health, beauty, professional success, and sexuality emphasized athleticism and muscle tone. Fitness took on an especially powerful meaning to women affected by the burgeoning feminist movement, their new economic roles, the rise of women's sports, and the volatile marital and social environment. Fitness centers also emerged as social centers where people went to see and meet members of the opposite or same sex. Paradoxically, as this greater focus on the body and formalized exercise occurred for some, a larger portion of the population grew increasingly unhealthy and obesity became a problem among all age cohorts.
David Suisman
Selling through the Ear: Tin Pan Alley, Song Plugging, and the Formation of the Modern American Soundscape
"If people hear a song, that [is] advertisement. If they do not hear it, there is no way of selling it." In a few words, music publisher Jean Aberbach summarized the principle behind the sophisticated and complex promotions apparatus underpinning the popular songwriting and music publishing industry known as Tin Pan Alley at the turn of the twentieth century. Seen in historical perspective, the Alley's "song factories" (as the New York Times called them in 1910) are generally known for "standardizing" and "mass producing" popular song. Less understood, however, has been the innovative and systematic way Tin Pan Alley created local and national markets for its products. Tin Pan Alley represents one of the most influential yet least studied components of the so-called culture industries in their formative period. However, Tin Pan Alley's strategies and systems for "plugging" sheet music diverged from the familiar narratives of industrialization and commercialization in two major ways. First, song-plugging was more interactive than other forms of promotion (e.g., print advertising or, later, radio), in that it depended on actively engaging audiences to sing along, rather treating them as passive or uncritical. Second, because publishers arranged to plug their material in every kind of public space, from department stores and restaurants to baseball games and street cars, their aggressive promotional strategy filled the air with songs, all of which were, in effect, advertisements. Thus, song plugging was not only a powerful tactic; it also contributed to the sensory transformation of everyday life in consumer-capitalist society, in which the soundscape—that is, the aural environment—became part of the commercial regime of the market.
Claire E. Swan
Scottish-American Business Networks: The Development of the Dundee Investment Trust Industry, c.1873-1914
Scottish entrepreneurs were important financial intermediaries in the export of British capital to the United States throughout the nineteenth century. From 1837 a host of joint-stock companies were formed to promote the investment of capital into the development of the American West. It has been estimated that Dundee, with an average annual income of £1.5 million in the 1880s, had invested £5 million in the United States by 1890. This was said to be about ten times the value of the town's real estate and equaled the savings of the town for twenty years. Although the finances of Dundee were more limited than those of Edinburgh or Glasgow, the city excelled in transatlantic enterprise and from 1873-1914 it was home to twelve American investment trust companies earning an international reputation as the center for Scottish foreign investment. This paper will address the widely accepted criticism that Dundee disproportionately contributed its textile profits to foreign investment rather than to improve the town and its jute industry. Instead, local merchants and manufacturers chose to diversify their activities in America by financing ventures such as the American railroads, cattle ranching, mining, and mortgage lending.
Christiane Diehl Taylor
The "Business" of Art: The Painter's Wife
Although fine art has been bought and sold for centuries, business historians have paid little attention to the commercial aspects of the art world. To demonstrate the insight that they could provide, this presentation employs the construct of social capital and examines the lives of painters Theodore Clement Steele and Jackson Pollock and their wives Mary Lakin Steele, Selma Neubacher Steele, and Lee Krasner Pollock through their biographies, memoirs, personal correspondence, published interviews, and the materials issued in conjunction with exhibits of their work. It argues that although wives marginally participated in the actual production of their husbands' paintings, they often took active roles in the promotion and sales of their husbands' output. Wives' greatest contributions, however, came upon the deaths of their spouses. Widowhood empowered them. They molded their spouses' images and reputations, even to the point of making them romantic or legendary, mythical figures. Moreover, because they often inherited many, if not all of the artists' unsold output, they gained inventory control and thereby could limit public access to the viewing and purchasing of the works—further enhancing their value.
Kevin Tennent
Management and Networks: To What Extent Were Free-Standing Companies Controlled from the Home Country? Four Scottish Examples, 1865-1885
[Paper]
Although the free-standing company was an important form of foreign investment before 1914, its implications for economic development in home and host countries remain unclear. Scotland was home to at least four hundred free-standing companies between 1862 and 1900. A core debate concerns the level to which these were entrepreneurial firms or purely devices for speculation. I examine four companies to analyze the role of their Scottish head offices: two agricultural companies operating in Australia and New Zealand and two U.S.-hosted firms. The two firms operating in Australasia were more effective in establishing control over their operations by devis-ing clear command structures. The Australasian-hosted companies were more adept than the U.S.-based firms at using the head office presence to establish marketing links in the United Kingdom. I conclude that the role of the head office is important for establishing competitive advantage for the free-standing company in its operations in the host country.
Jason P. Theriot
The Development and Demise of the Agrifuels Ethanol Plant, 1978-1988: A Case Study in Business Development and Energy Policy
In the 1970s, as the nation grappled with the economic rollercoaster created by the energy crisis, it became clear to Americans that an abundant, cheap supply of petroleum no longer existed. Jimmy Carter entered the White House in 1977 with a country swirling in economic disarray. One of his solutions to America's growing energy crisis was the creation of a domestic alcohol fuels industry—a massive, federally backed crash program to produce ethanol from crops, thereby reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil imports. The Agrifuels Ethanol Plant in New Iberia, Louisiana, became one of several firms across the country that evolved from this era of government subsidies and uncertainties. This case study on the Agrifuels Refining Corporation serves as a lens through which to view change in domestic energy policy from 1978 to 1988 and its impact on the emerging ethanol industry and business strategy. It examines the inherent ineptitude of crash programs and the apparent inability of our political system to negotiate successfully through shifts and cycles in economic conditions. In the end, the collision of the divergent political philosophies of Carter and Reagan, coupled with a debilitating economic recession and the shocking collapse of oil prices beginning in the early 1980s, resulted in ethanol's demise, leaving the rusted remains of dozens of foreclosed ethanol refineries scattered across the nation's landscape.
Ross Thomson
The Continuity of Wartime Innovation: The Civil War Experience
[Paper]
Capitalist development involves ongoing technological change in which a series of innovations develop and diffuse. Wars and other discontinuities thwart some innovations and generate others. Wartime experience illuminates the issue of whether innovation responds to the changing economic environment or maintains earlier directions. I examine the development of Civil War innovations in firearms, shoe mechanization, and petroleum. Using patent data, government procurement records, and firm records, I argue for the continuity of innovative content and in the occupation, network status, and location of patentees. Wartime innovation evolved out of antebellum firms, networks, and inventors, drawing on machinists, engineers, and applied scientists to transfer critical antebellum capabilities into innovating sectors. The war accelerated innovations in firearms and shoe mechanization, but it may have slowed petroleum innovation. Because antebellum innovation developed and spread knowledge in a wide variety of areas, innovations could come to fruition at the same time, even though they competed for some of the same resources.
Janice Traflet
Mom, Apple Pie, and the Market: How the NYSE Came to Court Women Investors
In the early 1950s, keenly aware that most member firms still had not fully recovered from the loss of business suffered in the wake of the Great Crash, the NYSE Executive Board decided to embark on an unprecedented massive marketing campaign. The main goal was to publicize the virtues of the stock market in order to stimulate business for struggling brokerage firms. This article focuses on the depiction of women in campaign promotional material, exploring in the process Exchange executives' changing vision of the role that women could play in reviving business for the securities industry. Initially, the NYSE looked to middle-class married women to serve primarily as influencers who could help infuse stock investing with an aura of legitimacy. While early campaign advertisements thus tried to remake investing into an activity construed as fundamentally American as "Mom and apple pie," the later stages of the campaign finally began to focus on women as potential investors in their own right. By examining the role of gender in the Exchange's first full-fledged marketing campaign, this article endeavors to shed light on the NYSE's changing perceptions of women's place both in society and in the stock market.
Cheng-Hua Tzeng
The State, the Social Sector, and the Market in the Making of China's First Entrepreneurial Venture
In this essay, I document the case of Chunxian Chen, publicly recognized as the first mover of China's information technology industry in the 1980s. Drawing on the structuration approach, I trace Chen's case at the micro-individual and macro-institutional levels. Unlike scholars who use a top-down perspective, I offer a bottom-up perspective on the origin of China's IT industry during the period of economic reform. Chen's start-up had five stages, in which he visited Silicon Valley; initiated his business; encountered opposition from his supervisor at the Chinese Academy of Science; received support from the government; and went bankrupt. Although Chen's business failed, his individual initiative had two positive unintended macro-institutional consequences. At the regional level, Chen's initiative triggered an avalanche of high-tech start-ups in the Zhongguancun area of Beijing. At the national level, Chen triggered China's National Torch Program.
John F. Uggen
The Emergence of Multinational Enterprise in Ecuador: A Case Study of the Ecuadorian Corporation
[Paper]
Ecuador's first multinational enterprise, the Ecuadorian Corporation, was founded in London on April 19, 1913, by members of the same syndicate of North American and British capitalists who financed and built Ecuador's Guayaquil and Quito Railroad. In exploring the connection between the railroad promoters and the Ecuadorian Corporation, I place special emphasis on two members of the original railroad syndicate: Archer Harman and Evermont Hope Norton. Between 1904 and 1913, Harman and Norton developed several subsidiary companies to enhance the railroad's earnings prospects. When political problems arose between the railroad and the Ecuadorian government over distribution of the earnings of the subsidiary companies, the Ecuadorian Corporation was formed as a separate holding company to protect the subsidiary companies from a possible government intervention. I provide a history of the Ecuadorian Corporation from its founding in 1913 to its dissolution in 1986 as the result of a hostile takeover by the Rooney-Pace Corporation.
Maki Umemura
The Hidden Peril of Foreign Connections: Banyu Pharmaceutical Becomes Merck Japan, 1915-2003
The Japanese pharmaceutical industry illustrates the paradox of Japan's dual economy. It straddles Japan's first tier of globally competitive firms, such as automobiles and electronics, and its second tier of domestically oriented firms, such as aluminum and food processing. Under government protection, many Japanese pharmaceutical firms were able to catch up with Western counterparts through reverse engineering and incremental innovations. But they have struggled to become globally competitive. For Japanese pharmaceutical firms, foreign connections have played an important role in their development—whether for technology imports, joint ventures, or exports. This presentation examines the experience of Banyu Pharmaceutical from a small, family-run enterprise to a large and successful multinational firm. Banyu, which was acquired by Merck in 1984, was one of the first major Japanese firms to become a subsidiary of a foreign firm. Banyu's experience sheds light upon a group of firms that have survived by becoming subsidiaries of foreign firms. It shows the changing nature of foreign connections and the challenges of high technology firms in late developing economies in becoming globally competitive.
Natascha van der Zwan
The Politics of Ownership and Work in an Employee-Owned Firm: A Case Study of the Weirton Steel Corporation, 1983-1991
The financialization of work—or the growing importance of financial schemes in the workplace through pension funds, 401(k)s, and Employee Stock Ownership Plans—calls for a rethinking of a conception of class that views labor and capital as diametrically opposed. As a result of capital investments made by employees, the boundary between labor and capital has become ambiguous, as working people formally become co-owners of the companies they invest in. In the case of the ESOP, the employee invests in the company for which he also works. Through a case study of the Weirton Steel Corporation, I will investigate how the broadening of corporate ownership has affected the political position of the employee inside the company. Weirton Steel became the largest American employee-owned company in 1984, after its employees bought their plant through an ESOP. Based on an analysis of the discourse used in official company publications from the Irving Bluestone Collection at the Walter P. Reuther Library (Detroit, MI), I argue that the company challenged the distinction between labor and capital by creating a third category of employee-owner. As the Weirton steelworkers became employee-owners, the ESOP was no longer represented as a tool for job maintenance, but as a means for company survival. However, although the Weirton steelworkers took responsibility over the company by becoming owners, they still carried the entrepreneurial risk of that ownership as employees. Employees had to make substantial financial concessions to generate capital for the company and relinquish important political rights of labor. The new category of employee-owner did thus not live up to its emancipatory potential, but rather weakened the political position of the employee vis-à-vis management and increased his vulnerability to the logic of the market.
James Walker and Peter Scott
The "Managerial Revolution" in Department Store Retailing: An Anglo-American Comparison
British retailing has often been characterized as having lower productivity, less developed managerial hierarchies and methods, and weaker economies of scale and scope than its U.S. counterpart during the early twentieth century. This has, in turn, been linked to the slower diffusion of a variety of managerial and accounting innovations, collectively termed the "managerial revolution" in department store retailing. However, such comparisons are generally made using crude and indirect proxies for British retailing efficiency. This paper draws on much better data for U.S. and U.K. department stores—major annual surveys conducted by the Harvard Bureau of Business Research and the London School of Economics. The paper seeks to examine the reasons behind Britain's surprisingly strong performance, drawing on both the published surveys and a database of surviving returns from the UK survey covering some 115 stores. We conclude that America's poorer productivity performance stemmed not from differences in managerial methods per se, but from a high advertising and promotion cost, high services cost, high premises cost, competitive equilibrium, which U.S. department stores had become locked into during the 1920s (and from which they could not extricate themselves in the aftermath of the Depression).
Maggie Walsh
On the Road to Increased Female Labor Participation in the United States after World War Two
This paper juxtaposes women's increased labor participation with their ability to drive automobiles. Traditionally the motorcar has been perceived as a masculine vehicle. Yet some women always drove cars. The number and percentage of female drivers, however, increased notably in the years after the Second World War. This growth was initially a response to new suburban living arrangements which required mobility for effective domestic labor. When women moved into the paid labor force in much larger numbers, they also needed access to automobiles to facilitate their journey to work as well as to manage their households. Furthermore they increasingly wanted to work in locations convenient to their homes. The doubling of cars in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s was directly related to this rise in the paid female labor force. Not all of the increase can, however, be attributed to working women. Other components of the population were also responsible for the higher usage of cars.
Ta-Chen Wang
Paying Back to Borrow More: Reputation and Bank Credit Access in Early America
The birth of commercial banking in New England after the American Revolution provides an important case to examine banking development under asymmetric information. Similar to credit markets in developing countries today, bank borrowers of early America usually had little or no collateral. This paper uses a unique data set based on every loan between 1803 and 1832 for Plymouth Bank to examine bank lending policies in the absence of collateral. Empirical evidence suggests that borrowers with little collateral established their credit-worthiness through repeated interaction with banks.
Glenn Willumson
Iron Muse: The Pictorial Legacy of the Transcontinental Railroad
The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) was the first corporation to systematically build a corporate photographic archive. My paper will use the example of the photographs of its construction of the first transcontinental railroad (1865-1869) to examine the ways in which photography was used in the mid-nineteenth century to further corporate desires. The creation of the CPRR's photographic record was not a simple process. It involved negotiation between photographer, patron, and audience. The CPRR used their photographs to assess progress, to demonstrate success to distant audiences, to entice investors, to secure government subsidies, and to frame their project in grand, nationalistic terms. The visual representation of the archive attests to the ways in which the railroad imagery actively ensured success and framed the project as a redemptive national effort after the destruction of the American Civil War.
Mark R. Wilson
A War Baby with Colic: Jack & Heintz, Inc., and the Politics of Profit Control during World War II
What is the history of American business during World War II? Much of what we know about this question rests on studies of the very largest corporations, business associations, and civilian coordinating boards. In this paper, I explore the question by considering the record of one mid-sized manufacturer, Jack & Heintz, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio. During World War II, when Jack & Heintz became a leading supplier of aircraft starters and autopilots, the company was extraordinarily well known for its unusual practices of 12-hour shifts and generous workplace benefits. Its leader, Bill Jack, was among the most colorful and politically active business executives on the home front. After introducing the company and its high media profile, my paper describes the company's battles with the wartime state over profit controls. In early 1942 and again in the winter of 1943-1944, Jack & Heintz served as the central example of alleged profiteering in an ongoing national struggle over the boundaries of legitimate profits in wartime. By the end of the war, the case of this company suggests, the battle over profit controls had a polarizing political effect, contributing to the renewed dedication of the business community to "free enterprise."
Terrence H. Witkowski and D. G. Brian Jones
Historiography in Marketing: Its Growth, Structure of Inquiry, and Disciplinary Status
[Paper]
In this essay, we approach historiography in marketing from two perspectives: first, as a body of literature and second, as a specific model of research methods and narrative writing employed by marketing scholars. The marketing discipline emerged in the early twentieth century, strongly influenced by German historical economics. Marketing academics have published historical studies in marketing journals since the 1930s; during the past twenty-five years, associational activities have greatly stimulated the growth of the literature, although it remains less developed than history subfields in accountancy, management, business, and economics. Authors publishing historical studies in mainstream marketing journals have sometimes had to adapt to structures of intellectual inquiry that favor explicit literature reviews, data borrowing, multiple types of primary sources, and transparency in research methods. We conclude that marketing historiography is a legitimate discipline in its own right and discuss future challenges.
Charles W. Wootton
The Comptometer and the Burroughs: Two Early Office Machines and Their Influence on Accounting and the Workplace in the United States, 1885–1915
In the last three decades of the twentieth century, several mechanical innovations were introduced that essentially changed the way information was processed. In turn, these innovations substantially and permanently changed the world of commerce. During the first stage of technological change, the two most important innovations were the introduction of the first commercially successful typewriter and adding machine/calculator in the United States. In the area of adders/calculators, two manufacturers established themselves as leaders in the marketplace and in machine innovation. These manufacturers were Felt & Tarrant Mfg. Co. (Comptometer) and Burroughs Adding Machine Company (originally American Arithometer). Between 1885 and 1915, the adding machine and calculator firmly established themselves in the marketplace and became essential elements in most business offices. In doing so, they (along with the typewriter) helped change the nature of the office place, and in turn, the gender composition of the work force in the office. It was these innovations that hastened the separation of accounting from bookkeeping.
Gavin Wright
Southern Business and Public Accommodations: An Economic-Historical Paradox
In retrospect, desegregation of public accommodations was extremely favorable for business in the U.S. South. Evidence for this proposition is detailed in the paper. Yet, with few exceptions, regional businesses and business people supported segregation and resisted local and national efforts at integration. A situation in which profit-seeking businesses have to be compelled to adopt policies in their own economic interest is paradoxical for business and economic history. Segregation of racially sensitive services (such as lunch counters, restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels) was believed to be a profit-maximizing choice by downtown business communities in the South. Both as individual firms and as a collectivity, they feared that an influx of African Americans would drive away more affluent white customers. Only when sit-ins and boycotts inflicted heavy financial damage for extended periods did national chains come to favor locally negotiated desegregation agreements as a lesser evil. They learned in most cases that adverse white reaction was not nearly as bad as they had feared. As local settlements spread, many previously resistant chains relaxed their opposition to comprehensive federal legislation on public accommodations. The case provides a remarkable example of collective co-evolutionary learning toward a better economic outcome.

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