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American Business Since 1920: How It Worked, 3rd Edition



American Business Since 1920: How It Worked, 3rd Edition

Thomas K. McCraw, William R. Childs

ISBN: 978-1-119-09726-6 November 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 408 Pages

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Tells the story of how America’s biggest companies began, operated, and prospered post-World War I

This book takes the vantage point of people working within companies as they responded to constant change created by consumers and technology. It focuses on the entrepreneur, the firm, and the industry, by showing—from the inside—how businesses operated after 1920, while offering a good deal of Modern American social and cultural history. The case studies and contextual chapters provide an in-depth understanding of the evolution of American management over nearly 100 years.

American Business Since 1920: How It Worked presents historical struggles with decision making and the trend towards relative decentralization through stories of extraordinarily capable entrepreneurs and the organizations they led. It covers: Henry Ford and his competitor Alfred Sloan at General Motors during the 1920s; Neil McElroy at Procter & Gamble in the 1930s; Ferdinand Eberstadt at the government’s Controlled Materials Plan during World War II; David Sarnoff at RCA in the 1950s and 1960s; and Ray Kroc and his McDonald’s franchises in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first; and more. It also delves into such modern success stories as, eBay, and Google.

  • Provides deep analysis of some of the most successful companies of the 20th century
  • Contains topical chapters covering titans of the 2000s
  • Part of Wiley-Blackwell’s highly praised American History Series

American Business Since 1920: How It Worked is designed for use in both basic and advanced courses in American history, at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Introduction 1

Past and Present 1

The Story Told Here 2

Trends 3

A Matter of Size 6

The Key Internal Problem 7

Broader Contexts 8

American Business and the World 11

The American Business Achievement 12

Chapter One: Modern Management in the 1920s: GM Defeats Ford 15

Cars, Trucks, and Freedom 15

Henry Ford, Mass Production, and Centralized Management 17

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. and Decentralized Management 20

General Motors Versus the Ford Motor Company: The Triumph of Decentralized Management 22

Lessons Learned 26

Chapter Two: Overview: Business Welfare Capitalism, the Financial System, and the Great Depression 29

Responding to the Dark Side – Business Welfare Capitalism in the 1920s 29

Functions of Finance 31

Historical Context of American Finance to 1920 33

Wall Street and the Stock Market in the 1920s 34

The Great Depression 36

Successful Firms During the Great Depression 40

Chapter Three: Brand Management at Procter & Gamble 43

Procter & Gamble: Multiple Products and Marketing 43

Firm Culture 45

Building the Market 47

Neil McElroy and Brands 49

Doc Smelser and the Market Research Department 51

Lessons of Brands 53

Changes at P&G in the Early Twenty]first Century 55

People as Brands 56

Chapter Four: The New Deal and World War II: Regulation and Mobilization, 1933–1945 59

Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal 60

The Extension and Decentralization of Regulation 63

The World at War 66

The Marvel of American War Production 68

The Problem of Mobilization 69

The Solution: Decentralization through the Controlled Materials Plan 71

World War II as a Transformative Event 75

Aviation Matures: Boeing 81

Postscript: Scandals 85

Photo Group 1 87

Chapter Five: Overview: Postwar Prosperity and Social Revolution, 1945–1970s 95

The Cold War and Business 95

Economic Trends 97

The Place of Business in Society 100

Boomers, Social Movements, and the Government 102

Environmentalism 104

Chapter Six: Overview: The Empowerment of Women and Minorities in Business 107

Women 108

Women in the Workforce 111

Women in Top Management 112

African Americans 117

African Americans in Top Management 122

Hispanics 125

Hispanics in Top Management 129

Foreign]born CEOs of American Firms 133

Photo Group 2 135

Chapter Seven: Science and R&D: From TV to Biotechnology 145

R&D During the Cold War 145

David Sarnoff and RCA 146

Sarnoff and Television 152

Lessons from RCA’s Mismanagement 158

The Perils of High]Tech Markets 160

Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotechnology 162

Chapter Eight: Franchising and McDonald’s 173

The Economic and Social Context of Franchising 174

The McDonald Brothers 178

Ray Kroc 180

Financial Wizardry at McDonald’s 184

How McDonald’s Worked 187

Internationalization 190

Marketing, Labor, Nutrition, and the Environment: The Positives and Negatives of Franchising 191

Past and Future 197

Chapter Nine: The IT Revolution and Silicon Valley: Relentless Change 199

Early Days 200

IBM 202

Silicon Valley and a New Business Culture 206

The Internet and the World Wide Web 209

Companies and Personalities: Amazon, eBay, and Google 211

Expansion of the Internet: Cloud Computing, the Sharing Economy, and the Internet of Things 223

Chapter Ten: Overview: Financialization of Capitalism, 1980s to 2000s 229

“Deindustrialization” 231

Neoliberalism and the Extension of the Economists’ Hour 233

Surge in Globalization 236

Negatives of Neoliberalism and Globalization 238

Financialization 240

Excessive Pay for Executives and Fund Managers 255

The Problem of Opacity 258

Chapter Eleven: Business and the Great Recession 261

The Mortgage Mess 263

The Government Tries to Catch Up to a Financial Industry Under Duress 266

Reforms 276

Failures of Government Catch]up 279

Photo Group 3 283

Epilogue 297

Bibliographical Essay 307

Acknowledgments 365

Index 367

In this third edition of Thomas C. McCraw’s expansive work, William R. Childs has taken on the challenge of extending its reach into the first years of the 21st Century. The volatile events and issues of these years have made the task a daunting one, but Childs has risen to the occasion. Seamlessly folding new information into old, he has addressed the financial crisis of 2008, the accelerated growth of income inequality, the contentious debates surrounding globalization and financialization, the evolving roles of women and minorities in business, and innumerable other subjects of equal urgency. - Mary A. Yeager, PhD, Professor at UCLA