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#135, The fracturing of the American corporate elite -

Written by Mark S. Mizruchi, published by Harvard University Press in 2013, this book contains 0 pages.

SUMMARY: Following world war II, American business leaders observed an ethic of civic responsibility and enlightened self-interest. Steering a course of moderation and pragmatism, they accepted the legitimacy of organized labor and federal regulations of the economy and offered support, sometimes actively, as congress passed legislation to build the interstate highway system, reduce discrimination in hiring, and provide a safety net for the elderly and needy. In the 1970s, however, faced with inflation, foreign competition, and growing public criticism, corporate leaders became increasingly confrontational with labor and government. As they succeeded in taming their opponents, business leaders paradoxically undermined their ability to act collectively. The acquisition wave of the 1980s created further pressure to focus on share holder value and short term gain rather than long term problems facing their country.

REVIEW: This book is the result of a NSF sponsored research. It showed me two important things. Number one, a successful practice in a society sometimes can turn around to bite you. After WWII, American corporate is at the top of the world. Wall street is yet not very powerful, and banks are the most powerful players. However, after Japan and Germany catches up, and the society becomes more equal, many things happened around 1970s to turn the corporate culture around. In 1970s, the war reduced the legitimacy of the government. The rise of wall street culture makes corporate elites shorter lived and more conscious of short term gains. Labor, environment movement introduced EPA and OSHA, both introduced regulations that burden the industry. Their seems to be no alternatives to any of these at any given point in history. This book is written as fairly readable, even when it cited solid references like a thesis. The book author discussed stories of Morgan, Nixon, EPA and labor movement as a whole, introducing a continuous historical broad stroke sketch of American business culture.

Initial review by: Chang Liu

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Table of contents:

1. Introduction 2. The rise of the American corporate elite 3. The state of the economy 4. Labor as uneasy partner 5. The banks as mediators 6. The breakdown of the postwar consensus 7. Winning the war but losing the battle: the fragmentation of the American corporate elite 8. The aftermath 9. The ineffectual elite

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