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Organizing America: Wealth, Power, and the Origins of Corporate Capitalism

Опубликовано на портале: 12-11-2007
Изд-во: Princeton University Press, 2005, 272 с.
American society today is shaped not nearly as much by vast open spaces as it is by vast, bureaucratic organizations. Over half the working population toils away at enterprises with 500 or more employees--up from zero percent in 1800. Is this institutional immensity the logical outcome of technological forces in an all-efficient market, as some have argued? In this book, the first organizational history of nineteenth-century America, Yale sociologist Charles Perrow says no. He shows that there was nothing inevitable about the surge in corporate size and power by century's end. Critics railed against the nationalizing of the economy, against corporations' monopoly powers, political subversion, environmental destruction, and "wage slavery." How did a nation committed to individual freedom, family firms, public goods, and decentralized power become transformed in one century? Bountiful resources, a mass market, and the industrial revolution gave entrepreneurs broad scope. In Europe, the state and the church kept private organizations small and required consideration of the public good. In America, the courts and business-steeped legislators removed regulatory constraints over the century, centralizing industry and privatizing the railroads. Despite resistance, the corporate form became the model for the next century. Bureaucratic structure spread to government and the nonprofits. Writing in the tradition of Max Weber, Perrow concludes that the driving force of our history is not technology, politics, or culture, but large, bureaucratic organizations. Perrow, the author of award-winning books on organizations, employs his witty, trenchant, and graceful style here to maximum effect. Colorful vignettes abound: today's headlines echo past battles for unchecked organizational freedom; socially responsible alternatives that were tried are explored along with the historical contingencies that sent us down one road rather than another. No other book takes the role of organizations in America's development as seriously. The resultant insights presage a new historical genre. Charles Perrow is Research Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Yale University. Two of his six books are prizewinners: Normal Accidents (Princeton) and The AIDS Disaster. Complex Organizations (McGraw Hill) is in its third edition. He has written seventy articles and book chapters. Perrow has been a visiting professor at the London Graduate School of Business Studies, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Study.


CHAPTER 1. Introduction

  • Some Central Concepts
  • Density and concentration
  • Size and small-firm networks
  • Organizations or capitalism
  • Noneconomic organizations
  • Power
  • Culture and other shapers of society
  • Organizations as the independent variable
  • What Do Organizations Do?
  • What Kind of Organizations?
  • Alternative Theories
  • Conclusion

    CHAPTER 2. Preparing the Ground

  • Communities, Markets, Hierarchies, and Networks
  • Community
  • The market direction
  • Toward hierarchy and networks
  • The Legal Revolution that Launched Organizations
  • Fear of corporations
  • What organizations need to be able to do
  • Making capitalism corporate
  • Capitalism to Corporate Capitalism
  • Lawyers: "The Shock Troops of Capitalism"

    CHAPTER 3. Toward Hierarchy: The Mills of Manayunk

  • Getting the Factory Going: The Role of Labor Control
  • The First Mill-a Workhouse
  • To Mechanize or not?
  • Social Consequences
  • Labor Policies and Strikes
  • Organizations and Religion
  • From Working Classes to a Working Class
  • The politics of class
  • Conclusion

    CHAPTER 4. Toward Hierarchy and Networks 65

  • Lowell and the Boston Associates
  • Wage dependence and labor control
  • Lowell I: The benign phase
  • Profits and market control
  • Lowell II: The exploitive phase
  • Explaining the First Modern Business
  • Structural constraints
  • The Slater Model
  • Toward Networks with the Philadelphia Model
  • When capital counts
  • Philadelphia's large mills
  • Size and technology
  • Networks of Firms
  • Labor conflict
  • Externalities
  • The Decline of Textile Firms
  • Summary

    CHAPTER 5. Railroads, the Second Big Business

  • Railroads in France, Britain, and the United States: The Organizational Logic
  • France
  • Britain
  • The importance of the railroads
  • Why Were the Railroads Unregulated and Privatized?
  • The efficiency argument
  • Historical institutionalism assessed
  • The neoinstitutionalist account
  • The organization interest account
  • The details
  • Self-interested opposition to the railroads
  • Corruption Observed but Not Interpreted
  • Evidence from the public record, and the outcry
  • Scholars explain corruption
  • Summary and Conclusions

    CHAPTER 6. The Organizational Imprinting

  • Making the Railroads Work
  • Divisionalization
  • Finance takes charge
  • Inevitable, or a chance path?
  • Contracting out
  • Leadership Style and Worker Welfare
  • Work in general
  • Nationalization and Centralization: The Final Spike
  • Organizational versus political interpretations
  • Where did the money come from?
  • Regionalization versus Nationalization
  • The debate over the ethos
  • A political or an organizational interpretation of the struggle?
  • Was Regionalism Viable?
  • Concentrating Capital and Power
  • The corporate form triumphs
  • Explaining the arrival of the corporate form
  • An organizational agency account
  • Summary and Conclusions

    CHAPTER 7. Summary and Conclusions

    Appendix Alternative Theories Where Organizations Are the Dependent Variable