Dalzell, Frederick

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DALZELL, Frederick


Male. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D.


Office—Winthrop Group, Inc., 2 Canal Park, Cambridge, MA 02141.


Business history consultant and author. Winthrop Group, Cambridge, MA, senior consultant. Has taught history at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and Williams College, Williamstown, MA.


(With George David Smith) Wisdom from the Robber Barons: Enduring Business Lessons from Rockefeller, Morgan, and the First Industrialists, Perseus Publishing (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

(With Nitin Nohria and Davis Dyer) Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation, Wiley (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Davis Dyer and Rowena Olegario) Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 2004.

Author of numerous articles and book chapters on business history, the evolution of trade, and economic policy.


Frederick Dalzell works as a business history consultant. His primary role is to help businesses in the areas of finance, consumer goods, and industry preserve and use corporate histories that can help them not only keep track of their pasts but also deal with current and future management issues. Using this expertise, Dalzell has coauthored several books focusing on business histories and the lessons these histories provide. In Wisdom from the Robber Barons: Enduring Business Lessons from Rockefeller, Morgan, and the First Industrialists Dalzell and George David Smith recount the stories of America's legendary "robber barons," including their views on such important business topics as risk taking, innovation, leadership, and growth strategies. The authors maintain that the industrial titans' business acumen remains pertinent to the current business climate. As noted by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the business world of that era was not so different from that of today in that "the 19th century was marked by rapid change, unprecedented globalization, rampant market speculation, cut-throat downsizing and an increasing gap between rich and poor." The reviewer commented that the authors "have mined the richest insights of our forebears," concluding, "Pithy, informative and confident, this small book packs a wallop."

Dalzell teamed up with colleagues Nitin Nohria and Davis Dyer to write Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation, which describes the rise and decline of the large industrial corporation in the United States. The authors discuss the evolution of these corporations during the twentieth century and what their virtual disappearance from the American landscape means to employees and the public. In the process, they reveal some of the dramatic shifts in business strategies that companies like General Motors, Xerox, and Kodak have made as the country moves rapidly into a postindustrial economy. Writing on the BookReviewCafe.com, Dana DeZoysa felt that one of the author's main points—that large-scale industrial operations are doomed—has a major flaw in that it focuses too much on American companies. DeZoysa further noted, "If the authors had examined the top 100 global corporations instead of the Fortune 100, quite different conclusions might have turned up." For example, DeZoysa pointed out that many other countries are actually experiencing a boom in industrial business. Despite this somewhat misplaced focus in the reviewer's eyes, DeZoysa wrote that Changing Fortunes "documents its case very well. It is so lucidly written that typically leaden case studies are polished into brilliance by blunt often witty assessment of corporate goofs."

Dalzell collaborated once again with Dyer, as well as history professor Rowena Olegario, to tell the story of one of America's oldest and most prestigious companies in their book Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble. In chronicling the company's development and successes, the authors recount how the company got started in the 1830s, overcame the decline of its core candle business when kerosene lights came into play after the U.S. Civil War, and developed Ivory soap to save the business. They also pay close attention to how Procter & Gamble helped pioneer "branding" and developed an effective overall marketing strategy. Another key to the company's success was its development of Tide laundry detergent, a fact the authors posit against the company leaders' discussions regarding abandoning the product's initial development. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Joseph C. Sternberg wrote that while the book has many "interesting stories," "The problem is that the authors manage to tell them in an uninteresting way." An Economist reviewer called the book a "readable account of P&G's continuing success at inventing and sustaining a vast range of brands in markets from Lima to Beijing." Another reviewer, writing in Publishers Weekly, commented, "The minutiae included in this book is occasionally tedious; but the profiles of product launches are both appealing and informative." The reviewer went on to conclude, "This is a solid company history that will appeal to a wide audience."



Economist, July 24, 2004, review of Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble, p. 76.

Publishers Weekly, December 4, 2000, review of Wisdom from the Robber Barons: Enduring Business Lessons from Rockefeller, Morgan, and the First Industrialists, p. 66; May 17, 2004, review of Rising Tide, p. 44.

Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2004, Joseph C. Sternberg, review of Rising Tide, p. W12.


BookReviewCafe.com,http://www.bookreviewcafe.com/ (November 4, 2004), Dana DeZoysa, review of Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation.*