No other country in the world made antitrust such a major political issue, and none has exhibited the long running tradition of institutionalized concern about big business (3) The Unites States led the way in the creation of a corporate, market-driven civilization (28)
A large scale corporate enterprise, as we have seen, differed substantially from earlier businesses in a number of respects: its capital requirements; its cost structure; the nature of its ownership; the geographic scale on which it operated; its performance of a variety of economic functions embodied in a range of goods and services; its managerial and administrative requirements; it anonymity and impersonality; and its great wealth, power and influence in American society. (26)
Various conditions had to be met before the modern giant corporation could arise in American manufacturing, and one of the most important was widespread access to the commodity the railroads were created to supply - transportation. (41) The second development that was crucial to the coming of big business was a revolution closely related to the vast changes in transportation - a communications revolution. (43) The third necessary condition was an array of technological advances in manufacturing technology - specifically, machine tools and machines, petroleum and electricity, and managerial systems that emphasized profit returns on human and machine efficiency.
Companies grew vertically to absorb all aspects of manufacturing and marketing
their products. (control costs). They also grew horizontally to absorb products
that did the same kinds of things.
The degree of overall concentrations and its patterns have not changed since 1910. Most likely to succeed were those that could achieve and sustain genuine economies of scale and could link mass production to mass distribution. They had a long lead in capital investment in production and distribution networks, managerial talent, scientific or technological expertise, and established market positions. The difficulties and expenses of starting in a well established industry discouraged competitors.
Although machines, factories, deskilling and mass production were in the offing before the 1880s, when truly big corporations came into being, the scale of change, complexity of operations and extreme subdivisions of work were alienating to the average worker. (101-02) Uncertainty and unease about the emerging order of corporations and trusts took many forms. Farmers blamed railroad owners, eastern bankers, industrialists, politicians, and so on. They organized to form the Populist Party of 1892 and ended up in the Democratic Party (and lost the 1896 election - after which things were better and the price of corn rose). In 1911 Standard Oil was sued, and In 1914, under Theodore Roosevelt the Federal Trade Commission began to have enforcement powers.
Welfare work was begun to improve working conditions; included were social
Women) who saw to providing clean lunchrooms, cafeterias, washrooms, libraries, picnics, sports teams, vocational training, pension plans and even factory towns. Women's work began to be paid and evaluated more evenly. But the corporation was not only in the cities; it was everywhere. As delineated in Paths of Innovation, businesses invested in R&D and, Porter notes, penetrated rural countryside in the form of International Harvester and Sears, Roebuck & Co.
The new corporate civilization was featured in Middletown: A Study in American
Culture (1929). The meaning of life was dominated by getting a living in both
"working class" and "business class," but psychological
satisfaction rested in home, community and leisure time. This corporate organized
culture is becoming is a global culture. We have shifted from the Virgin to