April 18, 2000
In The Capitalist Philosophers, critically acclaimed writer Andrea Gabor tells the epic story of American business through the lives, times, and ideas of the great thinkers who defined the art and science of business. It is a book full of colorful stories and brilliant insights into why the business world is the way it is today.
People in business are constantly besieged by supposedly revolutionary ideas. Any company that went on a crash diet in response to the trendy precepts of Reengineering the Corporation felt the enormous impact still exercised by one of the first capitalist philosophers, Frederick Taylor. By going back to the source, Gabor helps business people make smart, informed decisions about the future.
Featured in The Capitalist Philosophers are:
- Frederick Taylor: “Production went to his head and filled his sleepless nerves like liquor or women on a Saturday night.”
- Mary Parker Follett, who understood that “only so far as business leaders… can identify themselves with the underlying social impulses of their time can they hope to plan and build great organizations.”
- Chester Bernard, the philosopher king, who believed that management’s job is to get things done by persuasion.
- Fritz Roethlisberger, the “Whiz Kid,” whose pioneering work in control and quantitative methods at Ford and the Department of Defense have had such a great influence on American management.
- Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor, the pathfinders of humanistic management.
- W. Edwards Deming, “the man who discovered quality” and the prophet of the learning organization.
- Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate, pioneer in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, renegade economist and management pathbreaker, whose ideas on decision-making have been vastly influential.
- Alfred Chandler, who laid the basis for the way we think about corporate strategy, and Alfred Sloan, whose My Years at General Motors is the most important business book ever published.
- Peter Drucker, who “gives you thoughts that are large.”
As Andrea Gabor notes in her introduction, “Contrary to common wisdom, it is possible for individuals to have a major impact on history. Just as FDR and Margaret Sanger changed the way we think about, respectively, politics and sexuality, so the capitalist philosophers have changed the way we look at the dominant institution in our society – the corporation.”
Andrea DeBoer is the author of The Man Who Discovered Quality and Einstein’s Wife. She has been a senior editor of U.S. News & World Report and a staff editor in corporate strategy and technology at Business Week. DeBoer has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and is currently a professor at Baruch College/CUNY. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.