Alfred Chandler

Topics: DuPont, Corporation, Economics Pages: 11 (3402 words) Published: April 1, 2013
History In the Future

Alfred Chandler’s contribution to the field of management in general, and to the discipline of business history in particular, is profound and lasting. Widely considered to have been the world’s leading historian of the industrial corporation. The purposes of chandler’s studies are not to theorize but to provide an explanation regarding the evolution of business; theories are developed by others using information pertaining to his research. However, his monumental works, such as “Pierre S. Du Pont and the making of the Modern Corporation”, Strategy and Structure, The Visible Hand, and Strategy and Scope have not only set standards for business and economic history but have also provided insight into theories from various economist. His studies discern into the success of companies during the managerial revolution and how business evolved into the 21st century. Born on the 15th of September 1918, Alfred Du Pont Chandler, Jr., was son of Alfred Du Pont and Carol Remsay Chandler. As his names suggests the relation to the Du Pont empire, presents the families prominence in the American economy. It is important to realize Chandler’s family liaison with the du Ponts, a family who successfully founded the gunpowder industry. In 1915 Pierre S. du Pont took over the family firm and transformed it into one of the largest gunpowder manufacturer and later he took control of General Motors. His work at GM has persuaded others to consider him on the best leaders during the big-business era. Chandler did his undergraduate degree at Harvard followed by a graduate study in History. While doing his graduate degree he crosses disciplines with sociology where his professor Talcott Parsons proved to have influenced Chandlers views. This decision proved to be exceptionally instrumental toward the corpus of Chandler’s studies, which embody many sociological principles. Chandler’s PhD thesis was focused on his great-grandfather Henry Varnum Poor’s undisclosed research papers, which lead him into the study of the US railroads as the nation’s first “big business”. Chandler began his teaching career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he remain until 1963 when he took up a professorship at John Hopkins University (JHU). It wasn’t until 1971 that Chandler left JHU to assume the position of chair in business history at Harvard University. Chandler taught an elective course at Harvard entitled The Coming of Managerial Capitalism, which revolved around his research and his analysis of the late 19th and 20th century market, entitled Managerial Capitalism. Chandler remained at Harvard until 1989 when he retired from the teaching profession but continued his research on modern capitalism. Some people who interpret Chandler’s work tend to have an exaggeratedly parsimonious view. It is questionable whether opportunism is indeed the best explanation for the behaviour of characters that populate Chandlers’ business history, and whether it is a key factor that necessitated organization transformation. Chandler, it seems, has a broader perspective of the human nature, and may be sending a different message through his careful and rich description in all his works. Chandler’s interpretation of the loosely run family businesses to giant modern enterprises, firms such as Du Pont and General Motors are bound to encounter challenges and conflicts, and many of these challenges are bound to have a human dimension. Chandler’s perspective may also be challenged due to his family ties to the company. The modern business enterprise is defined by two major characteristics. The first being, it contains distinct operating units, controlled by an administration and management separate from the main larger enterprise. Secondly an enterprise employs a hierarchy of salaried managers who make the executives decisions, forming a new class of businessmen. The managerial revolution was a shift in power, partnerships became...
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