Chapter 2 Case Study: The American Fur Company
1. How would you evaluate Astor in terms of his motive, his managerial ability, and his ethics? What lesson does his career teach about the relationship between virtue and success? Astor seems as though he wanted to make a better life for himself because he grew up very poor, but didn’t want to be in the same business as his father so he ventured out to make a better living for himself. Therefore, I believe Astor’s motive is greed. He was doing what any businessman would and that is to make money. He didn’t care about the consequences or what it would do to other people in his path. He seems as though he has the need for power and control. His managerial ability is based on many different avenues including him being hard working and is a good negotiator. He was also very well at dealing with his competition by beating them to the next customer and coming up with ideas that his competition wouldn’t have thought of; such as: higher prices, supplying the Indians with whisky, purchasing large quantities of trade goods at a lower cost and use of political influence. His behavior is both ethical and unethical. Some things that Astor did in his time, such as slaughtering a certain animal or species was acceptable and simply looked passed; however, today if Astor did that, there would be lawsuits and a lot of legal activity associated with him and his business. The trading of whisky to Indians for goods was frowned upon and was technically illegal and still is today. I feel as though in Astor’s case, virtue and success do not go hand in hand. It seems like Astor had no virtues of his own but yet he was able to become very successful in his company and make a lot of money, more than he could have dreamed of, especially when he was a young boy. 2. How did the environment of the American Fur Company change in the 1830’s? What deep historical forces are implicated in these changes? The environment of the company changed...
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