Summary of Organizing America

Wealth, Power, and the Origins of Corporate Capitalism

Princeton UP, more...

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Organizing America book summary
Though the founders did not guess that many Americans would work for big companies, they were already wary of big power.


8 Overall

5 Applicability

9 Innovation

7 Style


You may never have given a second thought to the very existence of the Fortune 500, but author and academic Charles Perrow has. In this eye-opening sociological account, he argues that the huge organizations that dominate today’s business world in the United States would have been unthinkable to the nation’s Founding Fathers, who viewed centralized money and power with great suspicion. Perrow’s fascinating study points out the importance of big organizations in shaping American society. Yet for all his sweeping - and well-reasoned - arguments, Perrow focuses only on a couple of diminished industries. Still, this intriguing work is an important read for responsible corporate citizens. recommends this social history to those leaders who want American corporations to be more than profit-making machines.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why large corporations are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States
  • How textile mills behaved as the country’s first large corporations
  • How railroads laid the groundwork for today’s big businesses
  • How giant corporate organizations affect American society


The Rise of the Large Organization
In today’s society, Americans take large corporations for granted. For all the talk of corporate downsizing, the typical Fortune 500 company diminished in size only slightly between 1979, when corporations averaged 3,000 employees, and 1993, when they...
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About the Author

Charles Perrow is a research scholar and professor emeritus of sociology at Yale University. His six other books include Complex Organizations and Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies. Perrow is an organizational theorist who studies the effects of large organizations on society.

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