Chandler’s Legacies

Xavier Duran

Xavier Duran

Job Title

Chandler International Visiting Scholar
The fellowship offered me the opportunity to experience stimulating discussions of my work with scholars at HBS, affiliates of the Business History Initiative, and the wider Harvard University community.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit HBS as the 2019 Alfred D. Chandler Jr. International Visiting Scholar. Alfred Chandler Jr has played a very important role in my academic life. The first time I read the railroad chapters of the Visible HandI was fascinated by the effect railroads had integrating the U.S. economy, creating out of necessity new organizational forms, financial instruments and accounting techniques. For my Ph.D. thesis, I decided to study transportation technologies in my home country of Colombia. I explored how and why shipping, railroads, oil pipelines, and wagon roads were adopted by firms and governments. A common thread of my findings suggested that transport adoption was delayed not so much because geography made unprofitable entrepreneurial entry, but because political deadlock blocked it. My research at Harvard continued my interest in transportation as I looked at the role of airplanes in the transformation of problem of drug trafficking. The fellowship offered me the opportunity to experience stimulating discussions of my work with scholars at HBS, affiliates of the Business History Initiative, and the wider Harvard University community. I had access to a wealth of resources through the Baker Library, and received fantastic support from librarians who opened my eyes to new sources of information. Furthermore, my time at HBS offered me the chance to see how members of the Business History Initiative use what we learn from business history in the classroom to teach MBA students through the case method.