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Business in Britain in the Twentieth CenturyDecline and Renaissance?$
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Richard Coopey and Peter Lyth

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.001.0001

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Strategic Games, Scale, and Efficiency, or Chandler goes to Hollywood 1

Strategic Games, Scale, and Efficiency, or Chandler goes to Hollywood 1

(p.15) Chapter 1 Strategic Games, Scale, and Efficiency, or Chandler goes to Hollywood1
Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century

Leslie Hannah

Oxford University Press

The many errors and misjudgments in Alfred D. Chandler's Scale and Scope derive from its framing in an established Anglo-American Whig-Progressive misinterpretation of business and technological history. Case studies of copper and tobacco show that his narratives of global oligopolistic competition in these industries require complete inversion: his alleged successes are more appropriately cast as failures and vice-versa. Such cases are not unique, but representative. His central propositions — that the British were rarely capable of building efficient managerial hierarchies, distinctively preferred family to professional management and headquartered proportionately fewer persistent global industrial oligopolists than both Germany and the United States — have all been comprehensively falsified. Further progress in internationally comparative business history requires a return to the higher standards of Chandler's earlier work and more disciplined quantification of comparisons conceived without the bias of hindsight.

Keywords:   managerial performance, oligopoly entrenchment, copper industry, cigarette industry, comparative business history

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