Enterprise and Society

Published by Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Online ISSN: 1467-2235
Print ISSN: 1467-2227
The three companies whose history forms the subject of this article became leaders in a sector of the British economy—consumer goods—generally regarded as one of the most successful in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Product innovation and development, achieved internally or through acquisition, enabled these firms to become market leaders. We therefore analyze the processes of product development within the three firms, using a systematic framework that allows us to offer generalizations about the process of product innovation and development in the consumer goods sector in Britain. We conclude that gradual modification, rather than revolutionary innovation, was characteristic of product development in the household goods trade, and that technology was less important for success than marketing skill.
Through an investigation into the origins of American food marketing, this dissertation reveals how branding—specifically, the centennial brands Quaker Oats, Coca-Cola, and Crisco—came to underpin much of today's market-driven economy. In a manner akin to alchemy, the entrepreneurs behind these three firms recognized the inherent value of an agricultural Eden, then found ways to convert common, low-cost agricultural goods—oats, sugar, and cottonseed oil—into appealing, high-revenue branded food products. In the process, these ventures devised new demand-driven business models that exploited technology and communications advances, enabling them to tap a nascent consumer culture. Their pioneering efforts generated unprecedented profits, laid the foundation for iconic billion-dollar brands, and fundamentally changed how Americans make daily food choices.
Nowadays, brands are inescapable. Economists and marketing experts trace this pervasive presence back to the 1980s when brands and branding seemed to promise new, crucial assets for both producers and consumers. Of course, brands existed much earlier, and although some authors claim that “brands are as old as known civilization,” most researchers accept that they burgeoned with the coming of large consumer-goods–oriented factories in the 1870s, generating the “first golden era for the modern brand mark” in the 1890s. The recent success of brands has stimulated historians' attention to product variety, advertisements, brand management, firms' and products' reputations, consumer loyalty, the significance of brands, and much more.
This study examines the careers of African American beauty culturists as they worked in the United States, Europe, and Africa between 1945 and 1965. Facing push back at home, African American beauty entrepreneurs frequently sought out international venues that were hospitable and receptive to black Americans in the years following World War II. By strategically using European sites that white Americans regarded as the birthplace of Western fashion and beauty, African American entrepreneurs in the fields of modeling, fashion design, and hair care were able to win accolades and advance their careers. In gaining support abroad, particularly in Europe, these beauty culturists capitalized on their international success to establish, legitimize, and promote their business ventures in the United States. After importing a positive reputation for themselves from Europe to the United States, African American beauty entrepreneurs then exported an image of themselves as the world's premier authorities on black beauty to people of color around the globe as they sold their products and marketed their expertise on the African continent itself. This essay demonstrates the important role that these black female beauty culturists played, both as businesspeople and as race leaders, in their generation's struggle to gain greater respect and opportunity for African Americans both at home and abroad. In doing so it places African American beauty culturists within the framework of transatlantic trade networks, the Black Freedom Movement, Pan-Africanism, and America's Cold War struggle.
The 1960s proved to be a crucial decade for the emergent Italian fashion industry. In these pages, we seek to demonstrate that in Italy, an evolution of demand took place, structurally different from the Fifties, causing fundamental changes which impacted upon supply. This was a decisive change in the path which led Italy to complete the establishment of an authentic fashion system. Interest in the question is two-fold. The formalization of relations between players in the Italian fashion industry using systematic logic facilitated the positioning of the made in Italy brand at the pinnacle of the world market: understanding the underlying mechanism of this process is useful for the identification of the characteristics of an Italian model, distinct from those of other countries which make up the history of the fashion industry. Analyses of the reference settings and development methods of the Italian fashion system can represent a further key to understanding the characteristics and the context in which the social transformation of post-war Italy took place.
The past decade's rapid expansion of a global market for organic food has set powerful economic and political forces in motion. The most important dividing line is whether organic food production should be an alternative to or a niche within a capitalist mode of production. To explore this conflict the article analyzes the formation of a market for eco-labeled milk in Sweden. The analysis draws on three aspects: the strategy of agri-business, the role of eco-labeling, and the importance of inter-organizational dynamics. Based on archival studies, daily press, and interviews, three processes are emphasized: the formative years of the alternative movement in the 1970s, the founding of an independent eco-label (KRAV) in the 1980s, and a discursive shift from alternative visions to organic branding in the early 1990s following the entry of agri-business.
Unlike its automobile or electronics industries, Japan's pharmaceutical industry did not become a global leader. Japan remains a net importer of pharmaceuticals and has introduced few global blockbuster drugs. Alfred Chandler argued that Japan's pharmaceutical firms remained relatively weak because Western firms enjoyed an insurmountable first first-mover advantage. However, this case study of the anticancer drug sector illustrates that Chandler's explanation is incomplete. Japanese medical culture, government policy, and research environment also played a substantial role in shaping the industry. In the 1970s and 1980s, these factors encouraged firms to develop little few effective drugs with low side effects, and profit from Japan's domestic market. But, these drugs were unsuitable to foreign markets with more demanding efficacy standards. As a result, Japan not only lost more than a decade in developing ineffective drugs, but also neglected to create the infrastructure necessary to develop innovative drugs and build a stronger pharmaceutical industry.
This article examines the “state of the art” and the current debates on the subject of women entrepreneurs, presenting some preliminary observations and hypotheses regarding the role of business-women in Italian economic development. Reasons for the new historiographic interest in female entrepreneurship are identified, and the primary methodological difficulties encountered in its historical study—starting with establishing the definition and the statistical parameters of the woman entrepreneur and discussing her social and juridical “invisibility”—are summarized. Finally, suggestions are made about possible directions for research on key historical trends important in shaping female entrepreneurial abilities in the Italian context.
My dissertation traces the invention and development of a new form of banking, body banking. Today, the body bank as an institution that collects, stores, processes, and distributes a human body product is a taken-for-granted aspect of medicine in the United States. We donate to blood banks, we cherish sperm bank babies, and we contemplate many sorts of banks, including cord blood banks, gene banks, and egg banks. Such institutions have existed for the past century in the metaphorical shadow of financial banks, and like those better-studied banks have stirred considerable controversy. The driving question behind my dissertation is simply, why banks? How did we come to use “bank” to apply to bodies as well as to dollars? More intriguingly, what does this analogy show us and what is it hiding?
With few exceptions, historians have argued that in the nineteenth century women were excluded from most retail activities. In Europe women became increasingly concentrated in small-scale, under- capitalized, and short-lived stores. The "separate sphere" ideology in its different guises underlay this evolution. In North America, on the other hand, women capitalized on this ideology to carve a niche for themselves in trade and retailing. Women were not mar- ginalized or segregated everywhere in Europe, however. In northern France the expansion of retail trade and overall improvements in standards of living provided women, especially married ones, with opportunities they were not reluctant to grasp. Though the activities of married women remained subordinated to the needs of their families, female retailers were neither particularly impoverished nor segregated in sectors deemed appropriate for persons of their sex. 1 Wives were to assist husbands in their activities and to replace the male partner if necessary. A new definition of women as exclusively domestic creatures who belonged in the home and who should have nothing to do with the public sphere, including economic activities, began to emerge in the late eighteenth century and gradually superseded the older ideal. Differ- ent social classes adopted the new view unevenly. The "separate
Women's work has often been portrayed as unskilled and low-paid labor done for the benefit of others. But the role of female enterprise in eighteenth-century Lyon presents another dimension: non-guild women workers who secured control of raw materials, labor, and distribution networks within an underground economy. In an unusual twist of fortune, a small but significant number of women in the silk, hat-making, and button-making industries turned to their own benefit the advantages customarily provided to male entrepreneurs. These women workers stole materials from the guild workshops in which they were employed. Having learned the technology needed to manufacture silk, hats, and buttons from guild masters, they set up clandestine workshops and trained their own workers. Even in the face of official guild protest, their low prices and competent workmanship induced some masters to buy their goods to reduce the cost of their own products. The women used a set of capitalist practices to survive in a difficult transitional era of superficially regulated norms.
Home heating and lighting markets have played crucial and underappreciated roles in driving energy transitions. When historians have studied the adoption of fossil fuels, they have often privileged industrial actors, markets, and technologies. My analysis of the factors that stimulated the adoption of anthracite coal and petroleum during the nineteenth century reveals that homes shaped how, when, and why Americans began to use fossil fuel energy. Moreover, a brief survey of other fossil fuel transitions shows that heating and lighting markets have been critical drivers in other times and places. Reassessing the historical patterns of energy transitions offers a revised understanding of the past for historians and suggests a new set of options for policymakers seeking to encourage the use of renewable energy in the future.
“Our outer dress does inner work for us, and if clothes “mean”, it is in the first place to ourselves, telling us we are or may be something we have meant to be” What is it to wear a uniform? Some occupations involve enforced adoption of a uniform, the police and armed services most obviously. Yet other occupations—such as management consultants—adopt styles or codes of dress that, while not enforced, have a currency and coherence such that we might think of them as a tacit uniform. Why—and to what effect—do some occupational groups voluntarily adopt tacit dress codes? This essay will explore those questions in relation to depictions of English traveling salesmen from the start of the nineteenth century to the eve of World War II. Representations of English traveling salesmen (“commercial travelers” in British parlance, the usage that will be adopted hereafter) frequently highlighted their physical appearance and in particular their modes of dress, showing remarkable continuity, certainly across the greater part of the period covered here.
In 1977, when Alfred D. Chandler's pathbreaking book The Visible Hand appeared, the large, vertically integrated, “Chandlerian” corporation had dominated the organizational landscape for nearly a century. In some interpretations, possibly including Chandler's own, The Visible Hand and subsequent works constitute a triumphalist account of the rise of that organizational form: the large, vertically integrated firm arose and prospered because of its inherent superiority, in all times and places, to more decentralized, market-oriented production arrangements. A quarter century later, however, the Chandlerian firm no longer dominates the landscape. It is under siege from a panoply of decentralized and market-like forms that often resemble some of the “inferior” nineteenth-century structures that the managerial enterprise had replaced.
Lifetime employment is one of the most conspicuous features of contemporary large Japanese corporations. The employment practices of merchant houses in the Edo period are sometimes proposed as one source of such lifetime commitment. Little attention has been paid, however, to the connection between long-term employment in the Edo period and that in the twentieth century. This paper aims to look at how Edo employment practices adapted to the twentieth-century environment within a new context of modern educational institutions and the need for professional managers.
The Menu of Organizational Choices
Ratio of New Private to All New Limited Companies in Britain, 1900-2000.
Distribution of New Firms Among Multi-Owner Organizational Forms, France, 1852-1978.
This article challenges the idea that the corporation is a globally superior form of business organization and that the Anglo-American common-law is more conducive to economic development than the code-based legal systems characteristic of continental Europe. Although the corporation had important advantages over the main alternative form of organization (partnerships), it also had disadvantages that limited its appeal to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As a result, when businesses were provided with an intermediate choice, the private limited liability company (PLLC) that combined the advantages of legal personhood and joint stock with a flexible internal organizational structure, most chose not to organize as corporations. This article tracks the changes that occurred in the menu of business organizational forms in two common-law countries (the UK and the US) and two countries governed by legal codes (France and Germany) and presents data showing the rapidity with which firms in each country responded to enabling legislation for PLLCs. We show that the PLLC was introduced first and most easily in a code country (Germany) and last and with the most difficulty in a common-law country (the US). Late introduction was associated with prolonged use of the partnership form, suggesting that the disadvantages of corporations did indeed weigh heavily on SMEs.
The dominant view about Italian Industrial Districts (IDs) suggests that firms within IDs finance themselves through internal sources alone. This view, based on Northeastern IDs - on which the mainstream literature concentrates - implicitly denies any potential role played by state subsidies available to small firms within the framework of national and regional industrial policies from the 1950s onwards. This thesis, focusing on a Southern ID, tests whether IDs can also emerge within the context of state intervention, and whether Southern IDs relied heavily on state funding in contrast with North-eastern IDs, which drew on public funds to a much smaller extent. The thesis employs a two-pronged approach, analysing the issue from the perspective of both the lending institutions and the recipient firms. It discusses the development of the 'Extraordinary intervention for the South' - designed to overcome Southern backwardness - and compares it with the national industrial policies. It moves on to provide a detailed breakdown of the extent to which firms in Southern Italy benefited from subsidised loans and grants more than firms in the North-east, where far fewer firms sought subsidies. The importance of subsidies for the recipient companies is studied using two samples of small manufacturing firms, within the Southern ID of Barletta and the North-eastern ID of San Mauro Pascoli. The analysis of the capital structure of the two samples confirms the greater reliance of Southern companies on subsidies, whereas private finance was more important for the North-eastern counterparts. However, subsidies to companies in the North-eastern ID appear to be more effective. The thesis concludes that the received interpretative framework regarding the types of finance used by companies within IDs is severely limited, in that the role of state subsidies cannot be neglected, particularly for Southern IDs, but also for the more prosperous North-eastern IDs.
This paper invites readers to look into how beliefs about future events help to better understand organizational change. Our argument is that the adoption of information technology and the adoption of new organizational forms around it have been driven by shifts in collective ideas of legitimate organizational development. As an example we focus on the establishment during the 1960s of a vision within US retail financial services, namely of the “cashless/checkless society”. The article tells of the power of this “imaginaire” to bring consensus in driving actual technological developments.
FeurerRosemary. Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900–1950. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2006. xix + 320 pp. ISBN 0-252-03087-7, $65.00 (cloth); 0-252-07319-3, $25.00 (paper). - Volume 8 Issue 1 - Ken Fones-Wolf
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