The first article on this subject was a bit short and I would like to give some more background and detail. Before 1900 there was not much theory or anything about management or leadership, the only large institutions known in the West were the royal courts, the military and the Catholic church – all quite top-heavy.
The late 1800s in the US were characterized by a proliferation of industrial robber barons, exploiting every man and his dog. The situation had been the same 75 years earlier in the UK, famously described for example in Charles Dickens’ writings. But many industrialists were not like that and took social responsibility for employees and society to some extent.
The first two thirds of the 20th century represented the golden age of American business including a fairly enlightened leadership style, that took a sad turn for the worse at the end of the century, ending in the rise of the Imperial CEO. We cover the story here: