The Coming of Managerial Capitalism

Course Number 1122

Professor Tom Nicholas
Spring; Q3Q4; 3 credits
28 Sessions.

Career Focus

For MBAs who want to study the past and present to help guide their thinking about the future.

Educational Objectives

To provide an understanding of the development of entrepreneurship, modern management, business, technology and finance; to examine other institutions that have affected these areas such as governments, unions, and intellectual property rights; and to analyze the evolution of changing attitudes toward American capitalism as defined by how business leaders and other stakeholders operate.

Course Content and Organization

This course offers students an opportunity to explore the historical development of the United States as the country became increasingly industrial, urban, and technologically and financially advanced. The course covers the founding of the new nation, early entrepreneurial venturing, changes in the strategy and structure of business, the winners and losers from capitalist expansion and the impact of technology and finance.
The course's perspective provides a broad understanding of the long-term impact of technological change, entrepreneurship, and market evolution on U.S. business, managers, the work force, and government. The history of capitalism in the United States offers students a comparative point of reference for considering capitalistic development more generally and its long-term impact on material prosperity.
Students will encounter several different units of analysis: much of the focus of the course is on the individual business leader and entrepreneur, but the worker, the company, the industry, and the country are also covered. The main idea behind the course is to understand historical events, determine why certain pathways were chosen, and to use history as a guide to the present and the future.
The course is divided into four main (largely chronological) modules with a concluding session on the American Dream which covers the arc of the course:

  1. The Creative and Destructive Sides of Early U.S. Capitalism (c. 1790-1870)
  2. Scale and the Emergence of Organization (c. 1870-1920)
  3. Prosperity, Depression and War (c. 1920-1945)
  4. Innovation, Finance and Regulation (c. 1950-2008)
  5. The American Dream (c. 1790 to the present)

Grading and Exam

Grading is based 50% on class participation and 50% on the exam. The exam is self-scheduled and will require a written response to an essay question (or questions) centered on the course.