The role of large-scale business enterprise—big business and its managers—during the formative years of modern capitalism (from the 1850s until the 1920s) is delineated in this pathmarking book. Alfred Chandler, Jr., the distinguished business historian, sets forth the reasons for the dominance of big business in American transportation, communications, and the central sectors of production and distribution.
The managerial revolution, presented here with force and conviction, is the story of how the visible hand of management replaced what Adam Smith called the ‘invisible hand’ of market forces. Chandler shows that the fundamental shift toward managers running large enterprises exerted a far greater influence in determining size and concentration in American industry than other factors so often cited as critical: the quality of entrepreneurship, the availability of capital, or public policy.
Business historians have tended to be more attracted by the great entrepreneurs—the robber barons of industry—than by the institutions they created. Professor Chandler has corrected this bias by writing a masterly account of the rise of the modern business enterprise and the methods of running it.
Journal of Economic Issues
Alfred Chandler has produced an extremely valuable account of the development of the large managerial firm. How—and why—did the visible hand of management supersede the invisible hand of market coordination? The study provides a rich empirical basis for work on the new frontier of industrial organization concerned with the determinants of the boundaries of the firm and the nature of interorganizational coordination in the large region between impersonal markets and complete integration.
— Victor P. Goldberg
The Visible Hand is a revolutionary work. Business history in the past was largely about entrepreneurs—either as 'robber barons' or 'industrial statesmen.' Chandler shifts the spotlight from the promoters to the managers… The Visible Hand is a superb book—a triumph of creative synthesis.
New York Review of Books
Chandler's book is a major contribution to economics, as well as to business history, because it provides powerful insights into the ways in which the imperatives of capitalism shaped at least one aspect of the business world—its tendency to grow into giant companies in some industries but not into others.
— Robert L. Heilbroner
New York Times Book Review
A monumental effort summarizing much of what is known about the rise of the managerial class… Chandler deserves a wide audience.
— Susan Previant Lee