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Endless Novelty : Specialty Production and American Industrialization, 1865-1925 - Philip Scranton

Endless Novelty

Specialty Production and American Industrialization, 1865-1925

Paperback Published: 23rd July 2000
ISBN: 9780691070186
Number Of Pages: 416

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Flexibility, specialization, and niche marketing are buzzwords in the business literature these days, yet few realize that it was these elements that helped the United States first emerge as a global manufacturing leader between the Civil War and World War I. The huge mass production-based businesses--steel, oil, and autos--have long been given sole credit for this emergence. In "Endless Novelty," Philip Scranton boldly recasts the history of this vital episode in the development of American business, known as the nation's second industrial revolution, by considering the crucial impact of trades featuring specialty, not standardized, production. Scranton takes us on a grand tour through American specialty firms and districts, where, for example, we meet printers and jewelry makers in New York and Providence, furniture builders in Grand Rapids, and tool specialists in Cincinnati. Throughout he highlights the benevolent as well as the strained relationships between workers and proprietors, the lively interactions among entrepreneurs and city leaders, and the personal achievements of industrial engineers like Frederic W. Taylor.

Scranton shows that in sectors producing goods such as furniture, jewelry, machine tools, and electrical equipment, firms made goods to order or in batches, and industrial districts and networks flourished, creating millions of jobs. These enterprises relied on flexibility, skilled labor, close interactions with clients, suppliers, and rivals, and opportunistic pricing to generate profit streams. They built interfirm alliances to manage markets and fashioned specialized institutions--trade schools, industrial banks, labor bureaus, and sales consortia. In creating regional synergies and economies of scope and diversity, the approaches of these industrial firms represent the inverse of mass production.

Challenging views of company organization that have come to dominate the business world in the United States, "Endless Novelty" will appeal to historians, business leaders, and to anyone curious about the structure of American industry.

Industry Reviews

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1998 "This carefully researched, theoretically informed, and imaginatively structured book will command a broad readership... This volume presents a coherent and compelling alternative to the studies of managerial capitalism and big business that have dominated business history."--Thomas J. Misa, American Historical Review "In contrast to ... stories of mass production, Scranton's Endless Novelty develops a more nuanced and ultimately more convincing account of the second industrial revolution... [This is a] compact and meticulously researched study."--David E. Nye, Nature "Endless Novelty's most provocative challenge to economic orthodoxy ... is its thesis that price competition is not the best route for business to follow. Much of the book can be seen as a brief against the exhalation of price reductions over other business advantages... Ultimately, Endless Novelty is a valuable reminder that a humane workplace can and should exist."--James Surowiecki, Lingua Franca "By subverting the deterministic narrative of mass production, Scranton has helped to make the story of the American economy safe for diversity once again."--Kenneth Lipartito, Technology and Culture

List of Tables
Introductionp. 3
Early Yearsp. 25
Specialty Manufacturing to 1876p. 27
Institutions and the Context for Specialty Productionp. 60
Centennial to Columbian: Specialty Producers, 1876-1893p. 79
The 1876 Exposition and Philadelphia Manufacturingp. 81
Providence and New York: Jewelry, Silverware, and Printingp. 108
Midwestern Specialists: Cincinnati Tools and Grand Rapids Furniturep. 133
Depression and Advance, 1893-1912p. 161
Chicago and Grand Rapids: Palace Cars and Furniturep. 163
Fashioning the Machine Tool Hub: Cincinnatip. 193
Back East: The Electrical Equipment Industryp. 220
The Perils of Providence Jewelry's Erratic Coursep. 241
Workshop of the World: Philadelphiap. 260
Diverging Pathways, 1913-1925p. 295
War, Depression, and Specialty Production into the 1920sp. 297
Looking Aheadp. 344
Notesp. 357
Indexp. 407
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691070186
ISBN-10: 0691070180
Series: Princeton Paperbacks
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 23rd July 2000
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.57  x 2.26
Weight (kg): 0.59