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
The Morgans: Private International Bankers, 1854–1913
Business, Banking, and Politics: The Case of British Steel, 1918–1939
Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made
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 book shows why the United States was attractive to foreign investors and traces the changing role of foreign capital in the nation’s development, covering both portfolio and direct investment. The immense new wave of foreign investment in the United States today, and our return to the status of a debtor nation—once again the world’s largest debtor nation—makes this strong exposition far more than just historically interesting.
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
In a pioneering work, Jeffrey 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—the Andrew Carnegie of Germany—Fear traces the evolution of management inside 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
The dean of business historians continues his masterful chronicle of the transforming revolutions of the twentieth century. Alfred 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. From electronics prime mover RCA in the 1920s to Sony and Matsushita’s dramatic rise in the 1970s; from IBM’s dominance in computer technology in the 1950s to Microsoft’s stunning example of the creation of competitive advantage, 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
In this magisterial study, Michael Smith explains how France left behind small-scale merchant capitalism for the large corporate enterprises that would eventually dominate its domestic economy and project French influence throughout the world. Arguing against the long-standing view that French economic and business development was crippled by missed opportunities and entrepreneurial failures, Smith 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.