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In this book twentieth-century business development is analyzed against the relevant background of technological and economic growth. In approaching the question “How did the American business system get that way?” the author stresses the fundamental changes in technology, the spread of managerial enterprise in big business, and the rise of the welfare state. Although it is concerned with the evolution of the business system rather than with an analysis of the economy as a whole, the book has much to say about the general factors in the economic development of an advanced industrial state. Thomas Cochran treats his material from both an historical and present-day perspective.
The main emphasis of the book is on the businessman, his changing conception of his own role in society and the attitude of the public toward him. The managerial system of big business is seen as altering the attitudes of a small group of leaders in the business world and modifying the relation of the corporation to American life.