Thoughts on the story of our Company

What are these 8 moments in life of company?

(moments of crisis, change, forks in road etc)

• limited liability, brings outside investors in rather than just owner/partner investors.  [Is this the equivalent of the IPO in modern parlance?]

• change from owner-managers to non-owner managers, creation of the “agency problem.”

• some moment having to do with unionization of workers?

• some moment about monopolies or monopoly-busting, breaking up a company in that way?  Involving the government.

• something in terms of becoming a multinational corporation, breaking the bonds of any one government?  Acquiring some of the qualities/powers of the State?

• integrated firm?  What was pioneered by Carnegie and Ford, bringing ALL aspects of production under one roof, owning ALL subsidiary manufacturing parts that go into making your product.  ex. from Ford: he even owned the land on which grazed the sheep that were sheared to make the wool that covered the seats of his cars.

• the point (early 20th c.? Late in age of robber barons) at which companies start to take a social welfare interest in their employees.  Not just individual philanthropy of the owners, but the company taking a direct interest toward its employees — pension funds, health insurance, company housing, guaranteed work hours, guaranteed work weeks, the Japanese tradition of guaranteeing a job for life for both white and BLUE collar workers.  The idea that you would live your entire life inside a single company — something that is definitely not with us in the late-20th/early-21st century.  So that could be another moment that would then create something of interest to owners, workers.  Managers in terms of needing MORE management, but also how the managers’ motives in that differ from owners.  And also how does government view it, investment firms, etc.

• marketing.  Story where technical advances in manufacturing suddenly allowed companies to make many many more of a product, more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever before; but then suddenly discover that they are making more product than there exists a market for.  So their next step is to create a huge marketing division, and PR campaign, in order to CREATE THE MARKET that they are now capable of satisfying.  Good also because we are taking about marketing/media relations being one of our groups, so this would be a moment for them to come to the forefront.

• (late in game) outsourcing.  And the whole Friedman, World Is Flat thing, diversification of interests (UPS doing computer repairs in their warehouses).

• align those lines, maybe as something throughout the story, is the transformation of the company in terms of industry and what it manufactures.  This was mentioned in M&W book early on as something very distinct to American companies vs British, the flexibility of the product they create.  British companies tended to stick to a particular product or industry, whereas American companies, over the course of 75-100 years, might transform completely, e.g. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing becoming 3M and making post-it notes.

This might also provide us with the best way of charting the larger historical sweep of the American company, because different companies and different industries are driving things at different times.  e.g. Wall St really took off with, and for a long time was almost solely trading in, railroads — almost all the business on Wall St originally had to do with RR speculation.  And then a big transformation happened when American manufacturing and industry moved on the stock exchange and started being traded as public companies.

So is there something where whatever the Company is making initially has to do w RR industry then later is focusing in on one particular aspect of manufacturing or industry that was a part  of that initial company?

One Response to “Thoughts on the story of our Company”
  1. dem says:

    In all of this I am making a presumption about tracing the history of a company over a century and a half, mid-19th to 2011 — this isn’t actually a done deal, we might choose a shorter period of time to cover in which case we need to think about a more abstract or simplified ways of expressing these historical developments in the corporation, or focus only on the later 20th century in the history of the evolution of the corporation, and focus only on those changes in that time frame.

    If we do do the 150 year thing then we need to think about what the end point of that trajectory is, what are they doing that is still relevant at the end in the early 21st century — or, is it NOT relevant anymore, and it’s about the DEATH of the company?

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