It can be said that Alfred Chandler (1918-2007) created the study of business history. Chandler concentrated his early research efforts on explaining the growth of large multidivisional firms in the USA and how they helped develop the US economy ( Jones, 2008)
He was a historian, and in 1952 had completed his PhD at Harvard University in. His classic business book, “Strategy and Structure was published a decade later. His theory was grounded on an expansive study of large American firms between the years 1850 and 1920 (Economist)
Alfred Chandler served in the US navy during WWII, where he witnessed, first hand, the undertakings of a large organisation. He went on to teach at Johns Hopkins University and MIT before proceeding to Harvard Business School in 1971, the place where he became the first holder of an endowed chair in business history (Economist)
‘His work on the development of the multidivisional form of organization… and, to a lesser extent, on the emergence of the large-scale vertically integrated enterprise… are still seen as pioneering efforts in the management and in particular the strategy literature.’ (Kipping and Üsdiken, 2008: 97). This essay seeks to appraise the contribution of Alfred Chandler to an assortment of areas in business history and more broadly to management and economics and will be concluded with contemplation on the future significance of his work.
Alfred Chandler’s contribution starts with his research question regarding the factors that contributed to the transformation of large firms in the US economy. More specifically, he researched d how managers develop skills to organise the complicated routines that eventually went worldwide, and how the transformation of small enterprises into large companies influenced economic growth (Fligstein, 2008). Alfred Chandler’s works have had such an impact and gained attention from fans and critics alike, that the “Chandlerian” variety of scholarship was named after the man himself (Rose, 2008). In the following section some of Alfred Chandlers lasting contributions will be highlighted followed by a discussion of the views that were criticised by revisionists.
The majority of Alfred Chandler’s work was focussed on the idea that when the managerial visible hand was more effective than the invisible hand of the market it would become the main driving force of business growth. This discovery had a notable effect on scholars in management, economics and business history (Rose, 2008; Wilkins, 2008). These academics bought in to Alfred Chandler’s perspective that the managerial revolution was triggered by technological advancements and managerial capabilities that supported these innovations ( John, 1997; Novicevic et al., 2009b; Paridon and Carraher, 2009).
Alfred Chandler’s works have also been found to be used as a foundation for many more modern theorists such as: l sociologists, like Neil Fligstein, and economists, like Oliver Williamson, who used Alfred Chandler’s...