American Industrial Society for Machinery (SIAM)

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American Industrial Society for Machinery (SIAM)

The rise and decline of the industrial manufacturing concern SIAM Di Tella followed that of the Argentine economy. The company was founded in 1910 in Buenos Aires by three Italian immigrants, Torcuato Di Tella and the Allegrucci brothers, to make a dough-kneading machine. Di Tella quickly became the driving force and the Allegruccis withdrew. After Di Tella died in 1948, his management team continued to run the company.

SIAM produced a wide assortment of machinery. After World War I it built gasoline pumps largely for the state-owned oil company, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, and ran service stations. SIAM manufactured pumps with a license from a U.S. company, setting a pattern for most of its products. In the 1930s SIAM broke into consumer goods by manufacturing refrigerators. By the early 1960s SIAM was producing a full range of consumer goods, from irons and fans to motor scooters and cars, as well as industrial machinery and steel pipes. It had branches in Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. It could claim that it was the largest locally owned manufacturing company in Latin America.

Changes in government policies and difficulties in raising capital brought down SIAM. The large number of foreign corporations permitted to build cars hurt SIAM's ability to compete. Lacking adequate capital for new investment, it maintained automobile production too long, thereby weakening the company. Similar problems existed with its other consumer goods products. By 1972, when the government took over SIAM for financial reasons, the firm owed taxes that amounted to 60 percent of its capital. It survived for the next decade largely by selling capital goods to state enterprises, but after the military coup of 1976, the government no longer favored local companies, thus dooming SIAM. When the government attempted to privatize SIAM in 1981–1982, there were no takers. The company had to be broken up.

Although SIAM no longer exists, the Di Tella legacy remains important in the arts and education. After Di Tella's death his foundation created the Instituto Di Tella to support the arts. In 1991 the family foundation and the Instituto Di Tella together founded the nonprofit college Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.


Thomas C. Cochran and Ruben Reina, Entrepreneurship in Argentine Culture: Torcuato di Tella and SIAM (1962).

Jorge Schvarzer, Expansión económica del estado subsidiario, 1976–1981 (1981).

Paul H. Lewis, The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism (1990).

Torcuato S. Di Tella, Torcuato Di Tella: Industria y política (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Lucchini, Cristina. Industrialismo y nacionalidad en Argentina y el Brasil (1890–1950). Buenos Aires: Ediciones del Signo [con] Fundación Simón Rodríguez, 2000.

Puiggrós, Adriana, R. Gagliano, and N. Visacovsky. La fábrica del conocimiento: Los saberes socialmente productivos en América Latina. Rosario, Argentina: APPEAL: Homo Sapiens, 2004.

                                          Joel Horowitz

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American Industrial Society for Machinery (SIAM)

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American Industrial Society for Machinery (SIAM)