Skip to main content
Select Source:

Chandler, Alfred Dupont

CHANDLER, ALFRED DUPONT


Alfred DuPont Chandler (1918) is a U.S. historian, specializing in the history of business. A Harvard graduate and professor emeritus, Chandler wrote and edited numerous books and articles about business history and famous businesspeople. Over the course of five decades he helped establish this field of study and earned a reputation as a business expert.

Alfred Chandler was born September 15, 1918, in Guyencourt, Delaware, to Alfred Dupont and Carol Remsay Chandler. He studied at Harvard University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1940. After graduation Chandler joined the Navy, where he served until 1945. He then returned to Harvard to study history and earned his Master of Arts in 1947, and his Ph.D. in 1952.

In 1950 Chandler began working as a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). He also began his first editing project that year, working as an assistant editor for Elting M. Morison and John M. Blum on The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt. Once he earned his doctorate, he became a faculty member at M.I.T. and remained there until 1963. Chandler wrote his first book in 1956, Henry Varnum Poor: Business Editor, Analyst, and Reformer, which highlighted his interest in the field of business history.

Chandler's second book, Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise, was a study in organizational behavior. The work was highly regarded, and Chandler won a Newcomen Award for it in 1962. Chandler began to establish a reputation as a respected business historian. In 1963 he left M.I.T. to join the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, where he became director of the Center for Study of Recent American History and department chairman in 1966. During this time, Chandler also wrote his next book, Giant Enterprises: Ford, General Motors, and the Automotive Industry, and edited a book called The Railroads. Chandler's expertise as a historian landed him a position as the chairman of the Historical Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1969, a post he held until 1977.


The 1970s were a prolific period for Chandler. He started off the decade with his five-volume series on The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower. In 1970 Chandler was the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow at Harvard University, and he was also a member of the National Advertising Council's Committee on Educational and Professional Development. Although he was also a visiting scholar at All Souls, Oxford University, and the European Institute in Washington, D.C., Chandler stayed at Harvard as the Isidor Strauss Professor of Business History in the Graduate School of Business. In 1971 he co-authored two books with Stephen Salsbury, Pierre S. du Pont and The Making of the Modern Corporation.

Chandler's most popular book, The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business appeared in 1977. The book's focus on managers and institutions was well received by the public. The New Republic called The Visible Hand "a triumph of creative synthesis." Robert L. Heilbroner of the New York Review of Books said the book was "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 worldits tendency to grow into giant companies in some industries but not in others." The book was such a success it won Chandler both the Pulitzer and the Bancroft prizes in 1978.

Chandler continued to write about business and economic markets in the 1980s. In 1988 he published The Essential Alfred Chandler: Essays Toward a Historical Theory of Big Business, which contains a biographical introduction by editor Thomas McCraw. The next year Chandler retired from the Harvard Business School, but he continued his research and writing. In 1990 he published Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, with the assistance of Takashi Hikino. In that book Chandler examined the history of 600 top firms in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany for three-quarters of the twentieth century. He evaluated the significance of what was considered an indispensable historical reference. In 1991 Financial World dubbed Chandler the "dean of American business history."

Since the publication of Scale and Scope, Chandler wrote many articles on the history of the firm, the logic of industrial success, and corporate structure. He also edited and co-edited several more books, including Big Business and the Wealth of Nations and The Dynamic Firm: The Role of Technology, Strategy, Organizations, and Regions. Even after a decade of retirement, Chandler continued to maintain a leading role in the field of business history through the end of the twentieth century.


FURTHER READING

Alford, B.W.E. "Chandlerism, the New Orthodoxy of US and European Corporate Development." Journal of European Economic History, 23, Winter 1994.

Amatori, Franco. "Reflections on Global Business and Modern Italian Enterprise by a Stubborn 'Chandlerian."' Business History Review, 71, Summer 1997.

Chandler, Alfred Dupont. The Essential Alfred Chandler: Essays Toward a Historical Theory of Big Business. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1988.

. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1977.

"A Chat with the Dean of American Business History." Financial World, 160, June 25, 1991.

Parker, William N. "The Scale and Scope of Alfred D. Chandler, Jr." The Journal of Economic History, 51, December, 1991.

no other author in our field of studies has offered us so much both in terms of research results as well as tools for the analysis and definition of the global characteristics of the modern large enterprise.

franco amatori, business history review, summer 1997

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chandler, Alfred Dupont." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chandler, Alfred Dupont." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chandler-alfred-dupont

"Chandler, Alfred Dupont." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chandler-alfred-dupont

Alfred Du Pont Chandler Jr

Alfred Du Pont Chandler Jr.

Alfred Du Pont Chandler, Jr. (born 1918) was an American historian who specialized in both the biographies of American business leaders and in the organization and administration of large scale industrial enterprises.

Alfred Du Pont Chandler, Jr., was born in Guyencourt, Delaware, on September 15, 1918, the son of Alfred DuPont and Carol Remsay Chandler. He was educated at Harvard, receiving his B.A. in 1940 just in time to join the United States Navy. While serving in the navy, in 1944 he married Kay Martin. Mustered out in 1945, Chandler returned to Harvard to study history, earning his M.A. in 1947 and his Ph.D. in 1952.

His professional career began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950 where he was a research associate. He then became a faculty member and remained at M.I.T. until 1963, with time off to be a research fellow at Harvard in 1953 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 1958.

Chandler served an apprenticeship as assistant editor of The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt under Elting M. Morison and John M. Blum from 1950 to 1953. This was later to stand him in good stead when an opportunity arose to edit the Eisenhower Papers. His first book was a biography, Henry Varnum Poor, Business Editor, Analyst, and Reformer (1956), which was indicative of his interest in the history of businessmen, businesses, and business organizations. This book also showed his belief in the middle-class nature of reform movements in the United States.

While at M.I.T. Chandler also served as an academic consultant to the Naval War College in 1954. His second book, Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise, was a study in organizational behavior which won a Newcomen Award for 1962. It also furthered his reputation as a business historian, and the following year he moved to Johns Hopkins University.

At Johns Hopkins Chandler continued his productivity even though he took on the added responsibilities of director of the Center for Study of Recent American History in 1964 and of department chairman in 1966. He also became chairman of the Historical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1969, a post he held until 1977.

While busy with these administrative tasks, Chandler still found time to write. In 1964 he published Giant Enterprise: Ford, General Motors and the Automotive Industry, and in 1965 he edited a book entitled The Railroads. His major intellectual energy, however, was devoted to the editing of The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, which appeared in five volumes in 1970. His assistant editor, Steven B. Ambrose, became a noted Eisenhower scholar.

In 1970 Chandler was the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow at Harvard. He remained at Harvard as the Strauss Professor of Business History in the Graduate School of Business, although he was also a visiting fellow at All Souls, Oxford, and a visiting professor at the European Institute of Washington. The same year he was a visiting fellow at Harvard he also was a member of the National Advertising Council's Committee on Educational and Professional Development.

During his tenure at Harvard, Chandler continued to write. In 1971, along with Stephen Salsbury, he published Pierre S. du Pont and the Making of the Modern Corporation. In 1977 he published what was his most famous book, The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. The book was a culmination of Chandler's thinking on the operation of American business and earned the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes in 1978. These were not the only honors Chandler garnered. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1977-1978 he served as president of the Business History Conference. The most fitting accolade is that of John Higham, who exempted Chandler from "the deadly blight" which had prevented other senior historians from doing their culminating work in the 1960s and 1970s.

Since that time he wrote The Essential Alfred Chandler: Essays Toward a Historical Theory of Big Business (1988), and his Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism was written with the assistance of Takashi Hikino (1990). Scale and Scope was hailed as an indispensable historical reference spanning three-quarters of the twentieth century. In the book Chandler compares the European business environment with that of the United States. He evaluated the significance of business structure to performance and success in the marketplace. Chandler was dubbed the "dean of American business history" by Financial World in 1991.

Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. retired from the Harvard Business School on June 30, 1989.

Further Reading

There is a scarcity of material on Chandler. John Higham's favorable comment is from the epilogue of his 1983 edition of History, but it is only a brief consideration. Equally brief are the references to Chandler in Georg G. Iggers and Harold T. Parker, International Handbook of Historical Studies (1979).

Additional Sources

Chandler, Alfred D. Jr., The Essential Alfred Chandler: Essays Toward a Historical Theory of Big Business, Harvard Business School Press, 1988.

Chandler, Alfred D. Jr., Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, Belknap Press, 1990.

Forbes, November 13, 1989.

The New Republic, December 10, 1990. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Alfred Du Pont Chandler Jr." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Alfred Du Pont Chandler Jr." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/alfred-du-pont-chandler-jr

"Alfred Du Pont Chandler Jr." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/alfred-du-pont-chandler-jr