The subject of this work is a striking movement in modern life – the “organizational revolution.” It consists in a great rise in the number, size, and power of organizations of many diverse kinds, and especially of economic organizations. The rise of the labor movement, the farm organization movement, the great corporation, the trust and the cartel, even the enormous rise in the activity of the national state itself, are all part of the general movement in history, a movement which has suffered a remarkable acceleration of pace in the past seventy or eighty years. The main object of the study is to inquire into the impact of this movement on the standards by which we judge economic policy and personal conduct. It is part of a larger inquiry into the ethics of economic life, which has been briefly outlined in the Foreword to this volume.
Part I of the study consists of an analysis of the forces which have led to the growth of economic organization; and analysis of some of the consequences of this movement, for economic, political, and personal life; and a discussion of the kind of ethical problems which the movement has created. Part II consists of a number of brief “case studies” to illustrate the principles developed in Part I. These are illustrative rather than exhaustive. The labor movement, farm organizations, business organizations, all come under review. Two chapters show how the organizational revolution has affected national states, in their economic aspects. The final chapter of Part II summarizes the conclusions. Part III is devoted to Professor Reinhold Niebuhr’s critical chapter, others’ comments, and the author’s replies.