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"American Exceptionalism Revisited: The Importance of Management" in Jacoby, ed., Masters to Managers: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on American Employers, Columbia Univ. Press, 1991

Authors:
I/
WORKING
PAPER
SERIES
-
144/
AMERICAN
EXCEPTIONALISM
REVISITED:
-
THE IMPORTANCE
OF
MANAGEMENT,
by
Sanford
M.
Jacoby*
/
,,,
f
~IL
V
*Sanford
M.
Jacoby
Associate
Professor
Anderson
Graduate
School
of
Management
U.C.L.A.
Los
Angeles,
California
90024
(213)
206-6550
DRAFT:
,,)October
1987,
INSTITUTE
OF
INDUSTRIAL
RFLATION,S
(
8
,p
f
UNIVERSITY,
OF
L
ALIFORNIA,
()LOS
ANGELES,
I
American
Exceptionalism
Revisited:
The
Importance
of
Management
Sanford
M.
Jacoby
Anderson
Graduate
School
of
Management
UCLA
Los
Angeles,
CA
90024
October
1987
Please
note
that
this
is
a
first
and
very
rough
draft.
Therefore,
all
comments
and
suggestions
are
welcome,
and
the
paper
should
only
be
quoted
with
permission.
It
has
been
over
eighty
years
since
Werner
Sombart
wrote
his
essay,
"Why
is
There
No
Socialism
in
America?",
yet
the
topic
of
American
exceptionalism
continues
to
be
of
great
interest
to
social
scientists
and
historians.
The
United
States
is
held
to
be
unique
among
industrial
democracies
not
only
for
failing
to
produce
a
mass
socialist
movement,
but
also
for
having
relatively
low
unionization
rates
throughout
the
twentieth
century. In
1914,
shortly
after
Sombart
published
his
essay,
the
American
unionization
rate
was not
the
lowest
in
the
world,
but
when
adjusted
for
per
capita
income
(which
varied
widely
at
the
time),
it
was
about
20
percent
less
than
those
of
European
nations
with
similar
income
levels.
Today,
even
the
unadjusted
rate
is
lower
than
that
in
any
other
advanced
democratic
nation
and
the
present
trend
is
toward
a
widening
of
the
differential.
U1)
Although
America's
industrial
unions
emerged
and
grew
dramatically
during
the
1930s
and
1940s,
those
events
occurred
at
a
relatively
late
date
in
world
historical
time,
and
the
density
levels
established
in
those
years
failed
to
maintain
themselves.
Explanations
for
exceptionalism
typically
adduce
a
variety
of
factors
that
might
account
for
the
American
worker's
relatively
weak
interest
in
socialism
and
unionism:
the
absence
of
feudalism
in
the
United
States,
early
mass
enfranchisement,
working-class heterogeneity
and
resultant
cleavages
among
workers,
fluid
class
boundaries,
high
rates
of
social
mobility,
high
earnings
levels,
the
frontier
pressure
valve,
and
a
dominant
value system
that
stresses
individualism
and
personal
achievement.
{2)
In
recent
years,
however,
these
traditional
explanations
have
become
the
target
of
various
criticisms.
One
critical
approach
rejects
the
assumption
of
labor
exceptionalism,
and
claims
that,
despite
the
absence
of
a
mass
party
on
the
left,
radical
and
socialist
ideologies
did
indeed
sink
deep
roots
in
the
American
working
class.
(3)
Another
approach
argues
that
there
is
no
standard
pattern
of
working
class
development:
each
national
trajectory
was
unique.
(4)
Finally,
a
third
approach
accepts
the
-2-
premise
of
exceptionalism
--that
America's
workers
were
different
from
those
in
Europe
--
but
claims
that
the
traditional
literature
has
given
too
much
emphasis
to
the
labor
side
of
the
picture
and
ignored
other,
more
structural,
determinants
such
as
the
nation's
size
and
the
activities
of
its
employers
and
government.
(5)
The
present
paper
is
most
closely related
to
this
last
approach,
and
argues
that
exceptionalism
could
as
easily
be
applied
to
American
labor
as
to
American
employers,
whose
hostility
toward unions
has
always
been
more
extreme
than
that
of
employers
in
other
nations.
The
paper
first
examines
why
American
employers
were
so
hostile
and
violent
in
their
response
to
unions,
and
then
shows
that
this
hostility
goes
a
long
way
toward
explaining
low
union
density
and
the
lack
of
labor
radicalism
in
the
United
States.
Although
recognizing
that
American
workers
and
unions
were
different,
the
paper
stresses
that
these
differences
cannot
be
understood
without
taking
into
account
the
intransigence
of
American
employers.
The
underlying
model
is
somewhat
akin
to
a
simultaneous
equations
system,
in
which
worker
and
employer
orientations
are
mutually
determined
and
both,
in
turn,
contribute
to
exceptional
American
outcomes.
Hence
it
is
meaningless
to
say
that
"labor
factors"
mattered
more
than
"employer
factors";
both
need
to
be
considered.
Were
American
Employers
Different?
A
convenient
jumping-off
point
is
Lloyd
Ulman's
recent
presidential
address
to
the Industrial
Relations
Research
Association,
which
conjectures
that
national
variations
in
union
density
can
best
be
explained
not
in
terms
of
worker
propensities
to
join
unions
but
as
a
result
of
varying
national
levels
of
employer
hostility
to
unionism.
Although,
says
Ulman,
all
employers
seek
to
maximize
profits
and
so
would
prefer
not
to
deal
with
unions,
some
"might
choose
collective
bargaining
even
if
it
costs
more
than
union
avoidance
but
less
than
the
most
radical
alternative
on
the
current
political
scene."
(6)
That
is,
if
-3-
faced
with
a
choice
between
collective
bargaining
and collective
expropriation,
employers
will
always
opt
for
the
former,
unless
the
latter
is
not
a
plausible
threat.
Three
examples
are
offered.
First,
in
Scandinavia,
the
Netherlands,
and
Germany,
employers
confronted
powerful
socialist
union
movements
that
posed
serious
threats
to
the
economic
order.
In
a
form
of
buyout,
employers
in
these
nations
defused
such
threats
by
proferring
collective
bargaining
and
state
welfare
benefits
in
return
for
union
support
of
basic
property
rights.
Though
the
exchange
was not
always
as
explicit
as
the
Stinnes-Legien
agreement
of
1918,
bargaining
and
benefits
had
the
effect
of
incorporating
the
unions
and
their
members
into
a
modified
but
still
fundamentally
capitalist
system.
Second,
in
France
and
Italy,
although
the
unions
espoused
radical
ideologies,
these
were
of
a
syndicalist,
rather
than
socialist,
variety.
Less
interested
in
bargaining
and
more
politically
utopian
than
their
northern
counterparts,
French
and
Italian
unions
could
be
countered
by
employer
political
activity
rather
than
offers
of
collective
bargaining.
Finally,
in
the
United
States
employers
faced
a
union
movement
quite
interested
in
bargaining
but
averse
to
and
even
contemptuous
of
socialist
and
radical
doctrines.
For
American
employers,
then,
there
was
no
need
to
buy
workers
out
(there
was
nothing
to
be
bought),
and
bargaining
was
accepted
only
when
workers
were
able
to
impose
unavoidable
strike
costs
on
employers.
Ulman's
argument
is
sharp
and
parsimonious,
and
his
emphasis
on
employers
as
a
critical
determinant
of
union
density
levels
is
a
welcome
change from
the
usual
litany
of
labor
exceptionalism.
But,
paradoxically,
on
closer
examination
his
model
is
seen
to
be
a
version
of
labor
exceptionalism, because
it
is
workers'
"relative
preferences
for
alternative
institutional
regimes"
that
shape
dominant
employer
policies
toward
unionism.
That
is,
American
employers
have
been
so
consistently
hostile
to
unions
because
American
workers
have
been
so
consistently
conservative.
In
this
view,
there
was
and
is
nothing
distinctive
about
American
employers.
Like
employers
everywhere,
they
seek
to
maximize
-4-
profits;
the
only
thing
unusual
about
them
are
the
constraints
they are
(or
in
this
case
are
not)
subject
to.
As Ulman
said
elsewhere,
"It
need
not
be
assumed,
however,
that
unorganized
American
employers
are
a
breed
apart
from
unionized
employers
either
at
home
or
abroad."
(7)
Here,
however,
I
think
Ulman's
argument
resembles
a
bit
too
much
standard
economics,
which
abstracts
from
national
differences
not
only
in
worker
characteristics
(Ulman
is
not
at fault
there)
but
also
in
employer
characteristics,
assuming that
all
are
alike
everywhere,
maximizing
subject
to
constraints.
Instead,
I
would
argue
that
when
it
came
to
labor
relations,
American
employers
were
(and
are)
different.
As
David
Granick pointed
out
in
his
comparative
study
of
management
in
developed
countries,
economists
are
perplexed
when
told
that
managers
do
not
behave
similarly
when
facing
similar
constraints.
After
all,
do
not
all
managers
act
to
maximize
the
present
discounted
worth
of
their
companies?
Perhaps they
think
that
they
do,
says
Granick,
but
even
in
an
area
that
one
would
expect
to
be
devoid
of
cultural
influences,
namely
investment
strategy,
Granick
found
startling
differences
between
French,
British,
and
American
companies
in
their
approach
to
long-range
investment
decisions.
These
he
attributed
to
national
differences
in
managements'
education,
lawfulness
with
respect
to
taxation,
attitudes
toward
risk,
and
career
structures.
{8)
In
light
of
the
recent
spate
of
books
on
Japanese
management,
it
is
hardly
suprising
that,
when
we
move
to
a
less
bloodless
realm
of
the
firm,
such
as
the
employment
relationship,
studies
have
discovered
significant
cross-national
differences
in
managements'
work-related
values.
Hofstede,
for
example,
found
that
American
managers
scored
more
highly
than
others
on
traits
like
individualism
and
need
for
recognition.
{9)
And,
as
Bendix
showed
in
his
comparative
study
of
managerial
ideologies,
individualism
has had
a
strong
hold
on
American
managements
since
the
turn
of
century,
despite
the
subsequent
development
of
alternative
ideologies
stressing
teamwork
and
cooperation.
It
seems
reasonable
to
presume,
though
we
do
not
know
-5-
for
certain,
that
their
deep
belief
in
the
virtues
of
individualism
and
personal
achievement
made
American
managers
less
willing
to
accept
collective
bargaining
and
other
goals
of
unionism
than
managers
in
other
nations.
(10)
Although
individualism
is
shared
to a
varying
extent
by
all
social
classes
in
the
United
States,
American managers
are
outliers
on
this
dimension,
both
nationally
and
internationally.
Their
extreme
individualism
and
market
orientation
has
its
roots
in
the
nation's
unique
pattern
of
economic
development.
Prior
to
the
New
Deal,
the
United
States
had
the
weakest
government
in
the
Western
world:
it
was
relatively
small,
lacked
cohesion
as
a
result
of
the
federal
system,
and
exercised
little
or no
directive
power
over
the
nation's
economic
and
social
development.
This
can
be
traced
to
the
lack
of
feudalism
and
the corresponding
absence
of
a
strong
monarchial
state.
Moreover,
because
its
industrial
revolution
started
at
a
relatively
early
date,
the
US
had
less
need
for
the
kind
of
state-led
"catch-up"
industrialization
that
took
place
in
continental
Europe
and
Japan.
Consequently,
"for
most
of
the
history
of
capitalism,
the
large
business
corporation
in
the
United
States
effectively
enjoyed
a
monopoly
of
the
political
and
institutional power
without
parallel
in
the
capitalist
world."
(11)
American
employers
never
had
to
make
alliances
with
other
social groups
--
such
as
a
landed
gentry
--
to
achieve
their
goals,
and
they
never
had
to
share
the
levers
of
economic
power
with
"outsiders"
like
the
government.
Hence
they
developed
an
especially
strong
belief
in
the
virtues
of
free
enterprise
and
apotheosized
themselves
as
self-made
men.
{12)
Being
unused
to
coexistence
or
cooperation
with
other
groups,
they
reacted
with
particular
vehemence
when
unions
sought
to
jointly
determine
various
aspects
of
corporate
management.
The
link
between
anti-statism
and
anti-unionism
can
be
seen
in
the
doctrine
of
the
"freedom
to
control"
--
the
right
of
management
to
control
every
aspect
of
business
--
which
employers
at
the
turn
of
the
century
repeatedly
invoked
in
opposition
both
to
anti-trust
legislation
and
to
collective
-6-
bargaining.
(13)
The
fact
that
American
employers
long
enjoyed
virtual
freedom
from
state
direction
and
regulation
helps
to
explain
their
vehement
opposition
to
many
of
the
New
Deal
reforms,
in
particular
to
the
Wagner
Act.
Had
industry
not
come
to
maturity
before
the
state
assumed
a
regulative
role,
it
is
likely
that
employers
would
have
been
less
suspicious
of,
and
less
hostile
to,
the
act.
Or
to
put
it
another
way,
the
fact
that
the
government
was
partly
responsible
for
the
New
Deal
spurt
in
unionization only
served
to
heighten
employer
hostility;
that
is,
the
association
with
government
had
the
effect
of
further
tainting
unionism.
Incentives
and
Resources
Thus,
there
is a
case
to
be
made
that
American
managers had
different
values
and
preferences
which
led
them
to
be
more
hostile
to
unionism
than
managers
in
other
nations.
Admittedly,
however,
this
is
a
speculative
argument.
We
lack
historical
and
contemporary
survey
data
that
would
allow
us to
compare
managerial
attitudes
toward
unions
in
different
nations.
But
even
if
one
rejects
the
claim
that
American
managers
were
different
in
kind,
an
argument
can
still
be
constructed
along
the
lines
suggested
by
Ulman:
American
managers,
though
not
innately
more
hostile
to
unions
than
other
managers,
have
been
considerably
less
constrained
in
expressing
their
hostility.
Ulman
suggests
a
negative
constraint
-
the
absence
of
labor
radicalism
-
as
the
key
factor
here.
But
there
was
far
more
to
managerial
antiunionism
in
the US
than
that.
As
the
preceding
discussion
of
the
state
suggests,
American
employers
were
situated
in
a
uniquely
favorable
political
situation,
drew
on
a
different
set
of
social
values,
and
faced
economic
incentives
to
fight
unions
that
went
far
beyond
the
absence
of
worker
radicalism.
That
is,
not
only
did
American
managers
have
greater
incentives
to
be
hostile,
they
had
available
to
them
a
wider
range
of
political
and
ideological
resources
to
effectuate
that
hostility.
Even
had
American
labor
been
more
radical
than
it
was,
or
as
radical
as
Wilentz
and
-7-
others
claim
it
to
have
been,
it
still
would
have
had
a
much
harder
time
achieving
employer
recognition
than
labor
in
other
nations.
Economics:
As
textbooks
on
comparative
industrial
relations
usually
note,
American
unions
are
distinctive
in
several
respects.
First,
their
approach
to
collective
bargaining
is
highly
decentralized.
Bargaining
is
typically
centered
on
the
individual
enterprise
and,
though
industrywide
contracts
exist,
they
are
far
less
prevalent
than
single-firm
agreements.
In
Europe,
by
contrast,
industrywide
bargaining
is
the
norm,
and
many
countries,
including
even
Japan,
have
legislation
providing
for
the
automatic
extension
of
contract
terms
to
unorganized
firms
within
the
industry.
Second,
American
unions
are
highly
job
conscious,
in
that
they
concern
themselves
with
a
variety
of
detailed
aspects
of
working
conditions
at
the
plant
level,
ranging
from
incentive
wages,
dismissals,
and
layoffs,
to
conditions
in
the
employee
lunchroom.
Industry
or
national
bargaining
is
unsuitable
for
these
issues
and
does
not
usually
deal
with
them,
or
they
are
preempted
by
government
labor
codes
and
regulations
that
are
more
extensive
than
those
found
in
the
United
States.
Third,
union
density
levels
in
the
United
States
are
lower
than
those
in
other
nations.
Taken
together,
these
characteristics
provide
American
employers
with
relatively
strong
economic
incentives
to
resist
unions.
If
organized,
an
employer
is
likely
to
have
higher
labor
costs
than
those
of
numerous
competing
domestic
firms
that
are
unorganized.
Whereas
in
other
countries,
this
outcome
is
far
less
likely
due
to
higher
density
levels,
industrywide
bargaining
and
contract
extension.
Should
an
American
employer
resist
union
demands,
he
faces
the
possiblity
of
a
strike
that
may
cause
his
firm
to
lose
market
share relative
to
domestic
competitors.
This
threat
gives
American
unions
a
bargaining
edge
over
their
foreign
counterparts,
allowing
them
to
penetrate
more
deeply
into
management's
plant
prerogatives.
But
that
only
heightens
management's
resolve
to
try
and
shed
its
labor
unions.
Finally,
all
of
these
factors
combined
will
lead
-8-
unorganized
American
managers
to
resist
unionization:
because
it
drives
up
relative
labor
costs,
entails
potential
strike
costs,
and
threatens
the
loss
of
managerial
prerogatives.
These
resistance
incentives
are
mitigated
in
situations
of
industrywide
bargaining.
But
it is
difficult
to
get
American
employers
to
form
these
bargaining
coalitions given
the
absence
of
facilitative
legal
arrangements
such
as
contract
extension,
and
the
legal
requirement
of
recognition
through
firm-by-firm
elections.
Indeed,
this
requirement
serves
to
heighten
the
degree
of
tension
and
conflict
in
the
US
industrial
relations
system
by
making
recognition
a
perpetual
source
of
contention.
Whereas
in
Europe
and
even
Japan,
recognition
is
less
of
an
issue,
both
because
of
extension
and
of
laws
making
recognition
a
relatively
automatic
process.
(14)
Not
only
have
American
employers
had
greater
incentives
to
resist
unions,
they
also
have
had
greater
economic
resources
to
carry
out
antiunion
campaigns.
Although
the
size
structure
of
American
industry
has
not
changed
greatly
since
the
1920s,
on
average
American
firms
have
been
larger
and
more
dispersed
than
most
of
their
counterparts
in
other
industrial
nations
due
to
the
early
development
of
mass
production
in
the US
and
the
great
size
of
the
American
market.
With
size
went
considerable
financial
resources
to
fight
wars
of
attrition
against
unions
as
well
as
the
option
of
relocating
production
from
organized
to
unorganized
establishments
in
other
locations.
Because
European
firms
tended
to
be
smaller,
they
were
more
likely
to
band
together
in
employer
associations
to
coordinate
employer
resistance
and
raise their
bargaining
power
relative
to
the
unions.
Once
associations
were
formed,
any
bargaining
that took
place
had
the
effect
of
standardizing
wages
within
the
industry
and
stabilizing
competition
by
removing
labor
costs
as
a
competitive
factor.
As
noted,
this
reduced
the
incentive
for
employer
resistance,
both
because
of
wage
uniformity
and
because
managerial
prerogatives
were
less
likely
to
be
threatened
by
association
bargaining.
This
is
not
to
say that
the
European
associations
were
-9-
timid
pussycats
or
that
similar
conditions
were
absent
from
the
American
scene.
In
coal,
apparel,
transportation,
construction,
and
even
metalworking,
American
firms
formed
employer
associations
for
bargaining
purposes,
though
the
bulk
of
the
American
workforce
was
employed
by
firms large
enough
to
go
it
alone,
mano
a
mano,
in
a
fight
to
remain
unorganized.
{15)
But
in
addition
to
size,
there
were
other
reasons
that
European
employers
were
more
likely
than
their
American
counterparts
to
form
associations.
Higher
firm
concentration
ratios and
geographic
propinquity
reduced
the
transaction
costs
of
forming
associations.
Also,
being
more
dependent
on
exports,
European
firms
had
a
common
interest
in
ensuring
that
labor
costs
did
not
get
out
of
line
with
world
competitive
levels,
especially
at
firms
that
had
less
bargaining
power
or
were
protected
from
international
competition.
(16)
Too,
in
some
European
countries,
there
was
a
tradition
of
employer
coalition
going
back
to
the
guild
masters'
associations,
such
as
those
found
in
Denmark.
(17)
Finally,
industrial
employers
outside
the
US
were
more
conscious
of
their class
interests
because
they
had
to
struggle
for
political
recognition
and
control
against
other
organized
interests
that
predated
the
rise
of
industry,
including
landed
aristocracies
and
petty
producers
and
shopkeepers.
Labor
exceptionalists
might
add
that this
class
consciousness
was
a
reaction
to
class
threats
from
below
that
were more
choate
than
in
the
US,
though
this
is
icing
on
the
causal
cake.
Politics:
As
we
have
seen,
the
relationship
between
business
and
government
in
the
United
States
was
unlike
that
found
in
other
countries,
whose
states
played
a
more
directive
and
decisive
role
in
the
modernization
process.
Because
of
this,
and
because
they
were
less
dominated
by
business
interests
than
in
the
US,
foreign
governments
not
only
pushed
their
employers
harder
to
accomodate
to
unions,
they
did
so
far
earlier
than
in
the
United
States.
Although
employers
in
other
countries
were
far
from
pleased
when
their
governments
sought
to
mediate
and
channel
social
conflict
in
this
fashion,
their
objections
were
relatively
-10-
muted
because
they
were
accustomed
to
the
state
intervening
as
a
broker
and
coordinator
of
competing
interests.
Prior
to
World
War
I,
Germany
(a
late
developer)
stood
at
one
end
of
the
interventionist
pole
and
Great
Britain
(the
first
industrial
nation)
at
the
other.
But
even the
British
state
became
involved
in
industrial
relations
and
took
actions
far
more
favorable
to
unions
than
was
the
case
in
America,
from
the
1894
Royal
Comission
that
sanctioned
collective
bargaining
to
the
1906
Trade
Disputes
Act
that
restrained
the
courts.
Sweden,
a
country
not
usually
discussed
in
this
regard,
had
a
government
that
encouraged
employers
to
avoid
violence
and
to
negotiate
with
unions during
the
critical
labor
confrontation
of
1905,
which
resulted
in
a
mediation
law
and
in a
compromise
agreement
under
which
employers
agreed
to
recognize
the
right
of
organization.
{181
And
since
World
War
II,
all
European
governments
have
moved
much
farther
in
interventionist
and
corporatist
directions
than
in
the
United
States.
{19)
To
get
a
better
sense
of
the
role
of
state
intervention,
it
is
worth
having
a
brief
look
at
French
and
German
experiences
during
the
prewar
period.
Friedman
has
shown
that
in
republican
France
between
the
1870s
and
World
War
I,
the
state
was
ubiquitous
and
and
heavily
involved
in
economic
development
and
regulation.
Though
French
industry
was
not
powerless,
it
had
to
compete
for
political
favors
with
other
economic
groups,
including
shopkeepers,
large
landowners,
peasants,
and
labor.
Given
the
strength
of
the
state
apparatus,
its
partial
dependence
on
labor
support,
and
the
failure
of
any
single
group
to
control
it,
the
Third
Republic
could
function
with
relative
autonomy
in
labor
affairs.
Hence,
"state
officials
rarely
acted
simply
on
the
behest
of
employers
in
labor
disputes,
instead
they
were
guided
by
their
own
interest
in
maintaining
social
harmony
and
restoring
order."
{20)
This
meant
that
the
government
took
various
steps
favoring
collective
bargaining,
including
laws
explicitly
legalizing
unions,
government
mediation
of
labor
disputes,
financial
aid
to
the
-11-
union
Bourses,
and
a
preference
for
conciliation
rather
than
repression
of
labor
disputes.
Though
French
employers
were
far
from
friendly
to
unions,
their
hostility
was
tempered
by
an
interventionist
state
which
they
were
unable
to
control,
a
situation
rather
different
from
the
United
States.
As
a
result,
"American
workers
had
to
fight
bloodier
political
battles
than
the
French
for
the
right
of
unions
to
exist
and
function...
the
rail
strikes
of 1877,
the
pitched
battle
of
Homestead,
the
Ludlow
massacre
were
bloodier
than
Fourmies
and
Draveil
and
Villeneuve-Sainte-Georges.
The
1919
steel
strike
was
more
brutally
suppressed
than
the
French
general
strike
of
1920.
'Bloody
Harlan
had
no
rival
in
the
coal
country
of
France.
France
had
nothing
like
the
private
armies,
factory
arsenals,
and
industrial
espionage
services
exposed
by
the
La
Follette
Committee."
{21)
In
Wilhelminian
Germany,
employers
tended
to
be
exceptionally
autocratic
in
their
treatment
of
labor.
Yet
with
the
exception
of
the
Ruhr
coal
and
steel
magnates,
German
employers
in
the
great
mass
of
small
and
medium-sized
firms
and
those
in
the
large
new
electro-chemical
industries
gradually
came
to
"recognize
the
inevitability
of
unions
and
accepted
the
right
to
strike"
in
the
years
prior
to
World
War
I.
{22)
An
important
factor
in
this
development
was
the
German
state,
which
passed
a
series
of
laws
--
not
all
of
them
enacted
--intended
to
give
greater
influence
to
employee
interests
at
the
workplace
and
in
society.
These
included
mandatory
worker
committee
laws
(1891,
1904,
1908),
laws
giving
special
legal
status
to
collective
agreements
(1910),
and
other
legislation
that
stopped
just
short
of
mandatory
union
recognition.
The
inspiration
for
these
laws
came
from
an
influential
group
of
nationalist
intellectuals
belonging
to
the
Verein
fUr
Sozialpolitik,
who
held
key
posts
not
only
in
the
universities
but
also
in
government.
These
moderate
advocates
of
social
reform
sought
to
ensure
that
Germany's
rapid
transition to
a
world
economic
power
would
occur
smoothly
and
with
a
minimum
of
social
unrest.
Taking
a
page
out
of
a
rival's
-12-
book,
men
like
Lujo
Brentano
and
Max
Weber
thought
that
collective
bargaining
along
English
lines
would
help
in
achieving
that
smooth
transition.
(23)
Though
many
employers
took
issue
with
state
policy
in
this
area,
others
were
willing
to
go
along,
in
part
because
of
a
tradition
of
respect
for
governmental
and
academic
authority.
With
the
onset
of
World
War
I,
the
patriotic
stance
of
the
unions
led
to
the
passage
of
a
variety
of laws
encouraging
union
recognition,
and
again
it
was
state
authority
--
this
time
the
military's
--
that
"did
much
to
erode
employer
resistance
to
recognition
of
the
unions",
even
before
the
Stinnes-Legien
agreement
of
1918.
{24}
To
get
a
sense
of
how
different
this
was
from
the
situation
in
the
United
States,
imagine
if
in
1900
or
1910
the
federal
government
owned
or
directed
parts
of
heavy
industry;
rejected
laissez-faire
and
promoted
oligopolies;
counseled
employer
restraint;
hired
John
R.
Commons and
his
associates
to
write
national
labor
legislation;
and
did
all
of
this
with
the
cooperation
or
grudging
acceptance
of
employers.
Indeed,
that
is
hard
to
imagine.
Although
there
were
incidents
in
which
the
US
government
took
positive
steps
to
shape
the
industrial
relations
system,
these
were
limited
either
to
key
industries,
principally
the
railroads
(1898,
1926)
and
coal
(1903),
or
to
temporary
measures
taken
during
the
first
World
War.
Not
until
the
1930s
did
the
US
government
go
so far
as
the
British
in
muzzling
the
courts
and
giving
official
approval
to
collective
bargaining.
In
fact,
what
made
the
US
notable
was
not
only
its
lack
of
positive
industrial
relations
policy
but
its
willingness
to
stand to
one
side
during
violent
labor
disputes
or
to
put the
state's
repressive
aparatus
at
the
disposal
of
employers.
Although
the
German
state
was
willing
to
use
force
against
strikers, by
and
large
it
restrained
itself
as
well
as
German
employers,
and
this
goes
a
long
way
to
explaining
why,
"in
prewar
America,
management's
struggle
against
organized
labor
was
accompanied
by
greater
turbulence
and
violence
...
than
in
the
Ruhr."
{25)
-13-
Indeed,
according
to
Taft
and
Ross,
the
United
States
"has
had
the
bloodiest
and
most
violent
labor
history
of
any
industrial
nation
in
the
world."
(26)
Though
Taft
and
Ross
presented
little
supporting
evidence,
other
scholars
have
affirmed
their
judgement
in
comparisons
between
the
United
States
on
the
one
hand
and
England,
Canada,
Germany,
and
France
on
the
other.
(27)
Some
have
attributed
this
high
degree
of
violence
to
a
strain
of
aggression
in
the
national
character,
or
to
ethnic
and
racial
cleavages
in
the
labor
force
that
made
it
easier
for
American
employers
to
recruit
strikebreakers
--
a
tactic
that
often
touched
off
violence.
{28)
But
industrial
violence
can
more
directly
be
traced
to
an
exceptionally
high
degree
of
employer
resistance
to
unionism
combined
with
a
willingness
of
governmental
authorities
to
sanction
and
support
that
resistance
through
the
use
of
armed
force.
American
employers
had
considerable
resources
of
their
own
to
wage
battles
against
unions
-
including
company
guards
and
railway
police,
armed
men
suppplied
by
agencies
like
Pinkerton,
and
arsenals
of
the sort
described
in
the
La
Follette
hearings.
Nothing
of
this
magnitude
existed
in
Europe,
where
the
state
restricted
the
use
of
repression
to
its
own
regular
forces.
{29)
But
not
only
did the
American
government
allow
the
private
use
of
force
by
employers
(several
states
had
laws
specifically
permitting
the
deputization
of
privately
paid
police),
it
also
regularly
provided
direct
assistance
to
employers
during
labor
disputes,
and
did
so
to
a
much
greater
extent
than
in
Europe.
This
assistance
came
in
different
forms,
including
local
police
and
county
sheriff's
deputies,
state
militias
(later
known
as
the
National
Guard),
and,
on
special
occasions,
the
regular
national
army.
There
are
no
aggregate
data
on
the
use
of
local
police
in
labor
disputes,
although
this
was
the
most
common
form
of
repression.
But
we
do
know
that
the
state
militias,
which
were
reactivated
after
the
Civil
War
primarily
to
police
labor
disputes,
were
on
active
duty
in
at
least
150
labor
disputes
between
1877
and
1900,
and
in
an
equally
large
number
-14-
between
1900
and
1935.
Though
federal
troops
less
commonly
intervened,
they
participated
in
the
suppression
of
several
critical
strikes,
including
the
1877
railroad
strike
(the
first
nationwide
strike)
and
two
major
pre-1933
attempts
to
form
industrial
unions
-
at
Pullman
in
1894
and
in
the
steel
strike
of
1919.
{30}
Why
was
state
power
so
often
used
in
support
of
employer
resistance
to
unionism?
The
first
place
to
look
is
to
the
peculiar
dispersion
of
power
that
obtained
under
the
federal
system:
each
city,
county,
and
state
had
its
own
police
forces.
Disputes
often
were
local
affairs,
and
local
employers
had
an
easier
time
swaying
state
and
local
units
to
act
on
their
behalf
than
did
European
employers
confronted
with
a
more
independent
and
distant
state.
Not
only
did
this
dispersion
favor
the
employer,
it
also
weakened
and
fragmented
the
labor
movement.
{31)
Second,
one
must
not
forget
the
important
role
played
by
an
independent
judiciary
with
its
"constitutional
supremacy
over
labor
legislation."
(32}
In
the
absence
of
a
state
willing
to
actively
direct
and
formulate
definitive
public policy
for
industrial
relations,
the
task
fell
by
default
to
the
courts,
which
were
exceedingly
hostile
to
unionism
as
evidenced
by
a
steady
stream
of
decisions
enjoining
strikes,
boycotts,
and
picketing;
a
refusal
to
enforce
collective
bargaining
agreements;
and
by
finding
unconstitutional
what
little
substantive
law
the
states
developed
to
regulate
labor
relations
and
inhibit
violence,
such
as
statutes
banning
yellow-dog
contracts
and
blacklisting.
Though
the
courts
never
touched
the
only
other
substantive
form
of
public
policy
--
the
various
state
laws
providing
for
public
mediation
and
conciliation
services --they
had no need
to,
as
"these
laws
were
of
no
consequence."
(33)
Finally,
what
underlay
these
factors
was
the
unusually
high
degree
of
political
power
enjoyed
by
American
employers.
As
noted,
the
absence
of
feudalism
meant
that
agrarian
interests
were
relatively
weak,
and
there
was
no
-15-
landed
aristocracy,
established
military,
or
monarchial
traditions
of
a
strong
and
relatively
autonomous
central
state.
Too,
growth
was
so
rapid
after
the
Civil
War
that
large
firms
quickly
came
to
dominate
the
economic
landscape,
and
as
a
result,
"American
business
really
confronted
no
effective
economic
or
political
competitors
to
its
expansion
or
prestige."
{34)
This
was
in
sharp
contrast
to
the
situation
in
France,
Sweden,
Germany,
or
England,
where
employers
were
unable
to
control
a
relatively
autonomous,
multi-party
state.
Though
there
were
notable
instances
in
which
local,
state
and
even
federal
governments
favored
labor's
interests
--
as
during
World
War
I
or
in
the
coal,
railroad,
and
blacklisting
cases
previously
mentioned
--these
were
truly
exceptions
that
proved
the
exceptional
political
power
possessed
by
American
business.
That
power
acted
to
hold
in
check
the
federal
government's
interventionist
tendencies,
weak
as
these
may
have
been,
and
that,
in
turn,
bolstered
the
courts'
authority
and
the
dispersion
of
political
power.
Ideology:
It
is
worthwhile
noting
the
prevalence
in
American
culture
of
particular
values and
norms
that
employers
have
found
useful
in
mobilizing
public
opinion
against
unions,
and
not
just
the
opinions
of
respectable
society
but
of
the
working
class
as
well.
As
Lipset
has
noted,
these
values
--individualism,
achievement,
equality
--can
be
traced
to
the
fact
that
industrial
capitalism
emerged
in
the
United
States
without
having
to
confront
a
feudal
and
aristocratic
past.
{35)
Lipset's
intent
was
to
show
how
these
values
were
responsible
for
some
distinctive
features
of
American
unions,
such
as
their
bureaucratism
and
militance.
But
cultural
norms
are
fluid,
and
can
serve
as
ideological
resources
for
a
variety
of
purposes
and
groups.
Though
problematic
in
some
respects
--deference
to
superiors
does
not
mesh
well
with
it
--America's
dominant
value
system
gave
American
employers
a
comparative
ideological
advantage
in
their
fight
with
unions.
-16-
Take
individualism,
for
example.
Since
the
nineteenth
century,
American
employers
have
argued
that
unions
act
to
suppress
individual
rights,
either
by
being
undemocratic
--
members
have
to
obey
the
orders
of
union
bosses
--
or
by
being
excessively
democratic
--
dissenters
must
submit
to
the
will
of
an
occasionally
reckless
majority.
Employers
also
attacked
unions
using
arguments
borrowed
from
classical
(and
today
neoclassical)
economics:
Unions
were
held
to
be
harmful
monopolies
whose
actions
--
such
as
trying
to
push
wages
up
faster
than
productivity
warranted
--
violated
the
market's
natural
laws.
Because
it
was
based
on
invidualism,
classical economics
appealed
to
Americans
more
than
alternative
philosophies
that
legitimated
capitalism,
such
as
European
corporatism's
emphasis
on
the
economic
and
social
functions
of
various
estates
or
groups,
a
theory
congenial
to
unionism.
(36)
Related
to
individualism
is
the
American
ethos
of
achievement--the
"bitch
goddess
of
success"
--
or
as
Lipset
defined
it,
"the
belief
that
everyone
should
try
to be
a
'success'
regardless
of
background."
{37}
The
stress
on
achievement
explains
why
American
culture
has
proven
to
be
such
a
fertile
spawning
ground
for
gospels
of
self-improvement,
for
consumerism
and
conspicuous
consumption,
and
for
tales
about
striving
entrepreneurs and
rags-to-riches
tycoons.
The
popularity
of
these
tales
suggests
that
even
if
they
do
not
personally
identify
with
the
successful
businessman,
a
sizeable
portion
of
the
population
continues
to
dream
that
they
will
someday
have
their
own
businesses
or at
least
that
their
children
will.
(38)
These
visions
breed
public
sympathy
for
managers
who
argue
that
no
one
should
be
allowed
to
interfere
with
their
right
to
control,
especially
if
managers
base
that
right
on
hard
work
and
"sweat
equity"
(as
opposed
to
authority
naturally
flowing
from
property
rights).
It
is
important
to
remember,
however,
that
the
achievement
ethos
is
fluid,
and
can
be
supportive
of
unionism
as
well
as
other
forms
of
collective
advancement
(such
as
the
cooperative
visions
of
the
Knights
of
Labor).
Thus,
employers
can
not
take
-17-
public
support
for
granted,
but
instead
must
constantly
prove
that
they
can
do
a
better
job
of
making
people's
dreams
come
true
than
can
unions
or
government.
For
this
reason,
the
issue
of
relative
living
standards
has
always
been
of
more
than
academic
interest.
Surprisingly,
despite
its
importance,
only
recently
have
careful
studies
been
developed
that
compare
relative
living
standards
and
mobility
rates
in
prewar
American
to
those
of
other
nations.
The studies
are
somewhat
ambiguous,
showing,
for
example,
that
unskilled
workers
in
the
U.S.
in
the
1910s
were
no
better
off,
and
possibly
worse
off,
than
unskilled
workers
in
England;
that
skilled
workers
in
the
U.S.
were
definitely
better
off;
and
that
social
mobility
rates
were
roughly