Harvard Studies in Business History
Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.
The Charles Ilfeld Company: A Study of the Rise and Decline of Mercantile Capitalism in New Mexico
In a pioneering study of far western commercial enterprise from Santa Fe Trail days to the present, detailed company records reveal the merchants’ solutions of monetary exchange, balance of trade, and transportation problems, in depression and prosperity. Finally, the author traces the defeat of mercantile capitalism by modern specialization. New materials give valuable insights into the history of economic development in the western hemisphere. An important book for economists and historians, its frontier stories will delight less specialized readers.
The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397–1494
The close connection between the fortunes of the Medici Bank and the political, economic, and cultural events of the 15th century make this book a major contribution to Renaissance studies. Raymond de Roover discusses the Bank’s structure, prefiguring the modern holding company, and its techniques, including double-entry bookkeeping, cartel agreements, and cost accounting, as well as its relations with the Church. Relating his analysis to the culture of the time, the author makes significant use of new material, and takes full advantage of the recently discovered secret account books of the Medici Bank.
The Maturing of Multinational Enterprise: American Business Abroad from 1914 to 1970
With this magisterial study of American multinational enterprises, Mira Wilkins becomes the preeminent scholar in the all-important field of business history. A comprehensive work of prodigious research and erudition, her book gives us the history of American corporations abroad from 1914 to 1970.
British Mercantile Houses in Buenos Aires, 1810–1880
British mercantile houses—privately financed commercial enterprises dealing in the import and export of goods—integrated Argentine production into the world economy between 1810 and 1880. Reber evaluates business operations and decision making and analyzes the relationship between business practices and Argentine economy and politics.
The British Shipbuilding Industry, 1870–1914
This first modern history of the British shipbuilding industry between 1870 and 1914 examines activities and attitudes of the shipbuilders in the context of the controversy over the quality of British entrepreneurship. The authors consider the effectiveness of marketing practices, the rate of technological change, the degree to which ever-scarcer natural resources impose a constraint on growth, the general economic rationality of entrepreneurs, and, above all, the consequences of management decisions.
Moving the Masses: Urban Public Transit in New York
The author begins this study in 1880, when public transportation in large American cities was provided by numerous, competing horse-car companies with little or no public control of operation. By 1912, when the study concludes, a monopoly in each city operated a coordinated network of electric-powered streetcars and, in the largest cities, subways, which were regulated by city and state agencies. The history of transit development reflects two dominant themes: the constant pressure of rapid growth in city population and area and the requirements of the technology developed to service that growth.
Managerial Hierarchies: Comparative Perspectives on the Rise of the Modern Industrial Enterprise
The concept of the “visible hand” in big business enterprise is tested and extended in this book. These essays show that the growth and complexity of managerial hierarchies (“visible hands”) in large business firms are central to the organization of modern industrial activity. Leading American and European historians retrace and compare the historical evolution of the contemporary giant managerial hierarchies in the United States, Britain, Germany, and France.
Big Business in China: Sino–Foreign Rivalry in the Cigarette Industry, 1890–1930
This is the first major study in Chinese business history based largely on business’s own records. It focuses on the battle for the cigarette market in early twentieth-century China between the British-American Tobacco Company, based in New York and London, and its leading Chinese rival, Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Company, whose headquarters were in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The Morgans: Private International Bankers, 1854–1913
The House of Morgan personified economic power in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Carosso constructs an in-depth account of the evolution, operations, and management of the Morgan banks at London, New York, Philadelphia, and Paris, from the time Junius Spencer Morgan left Boston for London to the death of his son, John Pierpont Morgan.
Business, Banking, and Politics: The Case of British Steel, 1918–1939
In the 1920s, the “black decade” of British steel, nearly everyone agreed that the industry’s revival depended on replacing obsolete equipment and instituting modern technologies that would increase production and decrease costs. Despite consensus, these goals were not reached and, even after wartime and postwar reconstruction needs were met, the industry continued its steady decline. Steven Tolliday advances three hypotheses for this stagnation.
Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made
More than any other group, the Boston Associates were responsible for the sweeping economic transformation that occurred in New England between 1815 and 1861. They established an extensive network of modern business enterprises that were among the largest of the time—including, notably, the development of the Waltham-Lowell system in the textile industry—but they were also active in transportation, banking, and insurance, and played a major role in philanthropy and politics. Dalzell convincingly explains the complex motives that led the group to undertake initiatives on so many different fronts.
The History of Foreign Investment in the United States to 1914
From the colonial era to 1914, America was a debtor nation in international accounts—owing more to foreigners than foreigners owed to us. By 1914 it was the world’s largest debtor nation. Mira Wilkins provides the first complete history of foreign investment in the United States during that period.
The History of Foreign Investment in the United States, 1914–1945
The foremost authority on foreign investment in the U.S. continues her magisterial history in a work covering the critical years 1914–1945. Integrating economic, business, technological, legal, and diplomatic history, this comprehensive study is essential to understanding the internationalization of the American economy and broader global trends.
Dilemmas of Russian Capitalism: Fedor Chizhov and Corporate Enterprise in the Railroad Age
Fedor Chizhov built the first railroad owned entirely by Russian stockholders, created Moscow’s first bank and mutual credit society, and launched the first profitable steamship line based in Archangel. In this valuable book, Thomas Owen vividly illuminates the life and world of this seminal figure in early Russian capitalism.
Organizing Control: August Thyssen and the Construction of German Corporate Management
Fear overturns the dominant understanding of German management as “backward” relative to the U.S. and uncovers an autonomous and sophisticated German managerial tradition. Beginning with founder August Thyssen, Fear traces the evolution of management in the Thyssen-Konzern and the Vereinigte Stahlwerke (United Steel Works) between 1871 and 1934.
Shaping the Industrial Century: The Remarkable Story of the Evolution of the Modern Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries
Chandler argues that only with consistent attention to research and development and an emphasis on long-term corporate strategies could firms remain successful over time. He details these processes for nearly every major chemical and pharmaceutical firm, demonstrating why some companies forged ahead while others failed.
Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries, With a New Preface
Consumer electronics and computers redefined life and work in the twentieth century. In Inventing the Electronic Century, Pulitzer Prize–winning business historian Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. traces their origins and worldwide development. This masterful analysis is essential reading for every manager and student of technology.
Pull: Networking and Success since Benjamin Franklin
In retelling success stories from Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates, Laird goes beyond personality, upbringing, and social skills to reveal the critical common key—access to circles that control and distribute opportunity and information. She contrasts how Americans have prospered—or not—with how we have talked about prospering.
The Emergence of Modern Business Enterprise in France, 1800–1930
Smith explains how France abandoned merchant capitalism for the corporate enterprise that would come to dominate its economy and project influence around the globe. Opposing the view that French economic and business development was crippled by missed opportunities and entrepreneurial failures, he presents a story of considerable achievement.
A Culture of Credit: Embedding Trust and Transparency in American Business
In the growing and dynamic economy of nineteenth-century America, businesses sold vast quantities of goods to one another, mostly on credit. This book explains how business people solved the problem of whom to trust—how they determined who was deserving of credit, and for how much.
Gentlemen Bankers: The World of J. P. Morgan
Gentlemen Bankers focuses on the social and economic circles of one of America’s most renowned and influential financiers, J. P. Morgan, to tell a closely focused story of how economic and political interests intersected with personal rivalries and friendships among the Wall Street aristocracy during the first half of the twentieth century.
Railroads and the Transformation of China
To convey modern China’s history and the forces driving its economic success, rail has no equal. From warlordism to Cultural Revolution, railroads suffered the country’s ills but persisted because they were exemplary institutions. Elisabeth Köll shows why they remain essential to the PRC’s technocratic economic model for China’s future.
Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat
Ai Hisano reveals how the food industry capitalized on color, fashioning a visual vocabulary that shapes what we think of the food we eat. Our perceptions of what food should look like have changed dramatically as scientists, farmers, food processors, regulators, and marketers established a new, and highly engineered, version of the “natural.”