Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 December 2011
I remember the first time I read Alfred Chandler's Strategy and Structure as a graduate student in the mid-1970s. I was taking a class on the sociology of organizations and finding that many of the assigned books and articles did not interest me. Corporations are clearly one of the dominant forces in our society, yet none of what I read seemed to capture what they do and how they do it. Reading the first eighteen pages of Strategy and Structure was like having the scales fall from my eyes. Here was a historical view of the largest corporations that placed them in their context and, most important, showed that real people with real purposes undertook to make these organizations work. Chandler's book opened the black box of the large modern corporation for me. Chandler realized that what was interesting about corporations was not that they made profits, but how they did so. In a single chapter, Chandler articulated much that I had found lacking in organizational theory.
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