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Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation Hardcover – April 18, 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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From the Inside Flap


In 1973, Westinghouse and its longtime rival, General Electric, ranked among the strongest companies in the American economy. By the late 1990s, Westinghouse had disappeared from the economic landscape, whereas GE posted sales of $100 billion and employed nearly 300,000 people. Both companies faced common external challenges: energy crises, recessions, shareholder activism, the globalization of competition, the revolution in information technology, and the graying of the industrial economy. Their drastically different fates, however, were the results of the choices made in the face of these changes.

Based on a statistical profile of the one hundred largest industrial companies-the Fortune 100-and complemented by detailed historical case studies of individual corporations, Changing Fortunes examines the struggles of the giant industrial enterprises that once dominated the economy to adapt to a new reality.

One of the first books to address the shifting roles of big industrials in the postindustrial economy, Changing Fortunes vividly portrays the waning of America's leading industrial corporations and their internal transformations. Here, a leading Harvard Business School scholar and two business historians profile the Fortune 100 industrial corporations during the past quarter century-since the first oil crisis in 1973-1974-and trace their migration from center stage as they struggled to adjust to internal and external changes. Organized thematically, chapters in this groundbreaking study investigate:
* The forces reshaping the economy since the mid-1970s, as well as the magnitude of changes big companies had to make to survive and prosper
* The broad economic, technological, and social forces that affected all big companies and common responses by the Fortune 100 industrial corporations
* The changes large industrial corporations made in strategy, structures, systems, and governance
* The implications of the receding significance of large industrial corporations for owners and investors, employees, customers, and communities
* Entry and exit from the Fortune 100 population and the changing basis of the United States economy
* Strategies and actions that seem most likely to ensure the survival of individual industrial companies in an environment of contraction and a future of constrained options

Changing Fortunes is essential reading not only for all leaders of industrial companies who need perspective on their immediate circumstances but also for leaders in nascent industries and service businesses who can expect, eventually, to encounter tough choices when confronted with the necessity to change.

From the Back Cover


In the late 1990s, the New Economy threatened to eclipse the Old Economy of traditional industrial corporations. Yet with the recent spectacular tumble of the Nasdaq and the crushing failure of dot.coms, it is clear that while the big industrials will never again occupy center stage in the economy, they still play a vital role in our business landscape. One of the first books to address the role large corporations will play in the coming century, Changing Fortunes examines this evolution and looks ahead to what these changes mean for owners, managers, employees, and the public.

Written by an eminent Harvard Business School professor and two accomplished business historians, Changing Fortunes examines the dramatic shifts in strategy that such industrial behemoths as GE, Westinghouse, DuPont, Dow, Ford, GM, Xerox, USX, and Kodak underwent in moving from an industrial to a postindustrial economy. Based on statistical analysis of Fortune 100 industrial corporations as well as detailed historical case studies of individual companies, Changing Fortunes highlights the continuing role of the industrial corporation as supplier of essential goods and services as well as of surplus funds to feed the fast-growing and cash-hungry enterprises of the twenty-first-century economy.

The process of change that began a quarter century ago is not yet complete. Changing Fortunes will help leaders in all business sectors learn to recognize and accept the continuing necessity of change in order to embrace a promising and prosperous future.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047138481X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471384816
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,208,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Changing Fortunes makes a solidly researched, reasoned, and documented case that large economic institutions-manufacturing corporation in this case-have a skewed bell-shaped curve of evolution. Each curve emerges almost unnoticed out of the debris of a fading economic institution-frontier agriculture in the case of the medieval Church, religion in the case of the Enlightenment, and piecework in the case of manufacturing. It rises rapidly to previously unimaginable heights of power and prestige (as peas in a pod, cathedrals and high rises are separated only by centuries), and then begins a long decline that never quite ends in demise (Christmas and Easter are relics of paganism, not the progency of a new religion).
The reasons for the decline are varied and many, but several threads seem ever present: selfish interest replaces collective interest (American politics), accountability shifts from external to internal (American business), the network effect grows too inwardly dependent (Japan), and the life support of the whole thing-the everyday Joes and Joannes-feel more and more betrayed as they watch corruption replace commonweal. The shabby little personal deals these days between CEOs and Congressmen reminds one of the commerce in Church offices during the 14th through 16th centuries, which led to unprecedented levels of disproportion between principle and practice. The book Silent Theft by William Bollinger comes to many of these same conclusions from the commonweal-holder's point of view.
Changing Fortunes documents its case very well. It is so lucidly written that typically leaden case studies are polished into brilliance by blunt, often witty assessments of corporate goofs. No softening the blow with genial dollops of well-wishing comes from this trio.
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