Professor Langlois recently published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Big-Tech regulatory commission proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham and Elizabeth Warren, arguing that historical precedents from the Twentieth Century like the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Communications Commission should give us pause about creating a new intendent regulatory commission.
Professor Langlois received the 2023 Goodstein-Langer Award for Honors Advising during the Honors Program’s annual medals ceremony:
Since 2017, a member of the Honors Program faculty or staff is awarded the distinction and recognition for outstanding advising. This honor is determined by nominations submitted by Honors students, providing them the opportunity to share their experience and the positive impact of the faculty or staff member they have nominated.
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to undergraduate advising by faculty or staff members to Honors Program students. Nominees for this distinction have significantly exceeded expectations by providing exceptional undergraduate advising experiences to Honors students. This fund was established by Dr. Lynn Goodstein and Dr. Peter Langer, who both have strong ties to UConn Honors. The late Lynn Goodstein served as the Associate Vice Provost and Director from 2002 to 2012, and her husband, Peter Langer is a graduate of the inaugural Honors Program Class of 1968.
A review of Professor Langlois’s recent book, The Corporation and the Twentieth Century: The History of American Business Enterprise was featured in the July 1st edition of The Wall Street Journal. Reviewer Dan Akst describes Professor Langlois’s book as “…a remarkable achievement, not least for its detailed case studies of firms and whole industries that instantiate the author’s points.”
The full review is available online at The Wall Street Journal
Professor Langlois’s book can be purchased online from Princeton Press: The Corporation and the Twentieth Century: The History of American Business Enterprise
Professor Langlois’s book The Corporation and the Twentieth Century, a “definitive reframing of the economic, institutional, and intellectual history of the managerial era,” has been published and is available through Princeton University Press:
The twentieth century was the managerial century in the United States. An organizational transformation, from entrepreneurial to managerial capitalism, brought forth what became a dominant narrative: that administrative coordination by trained professional managers is essential to the efficient running of organizations both public and private. And yet if managerialism was the apotheosis of administrative efficiency, why did both its practice and the accompanying narrative lie in ruins by the end of the century? In The Corporation and the Twentieth Century, Richard Langlois offers an alternative version: a comprehensive and nuanced reframing and reassessment of the the economic, institutional, and intellectual history of the managerial era.
Langlois argues that managerialism rose to prominence not because of its inherent superiority but because of its contingent value in a young and rapidly developing American economy. The structures of managerialism solidified their dominance only because the century’s great catastrophes of war, depression, and war again superseded markets, scrambled relative prices, and weakened market-supporting institutions. By the end of the twentieth century, Langlois writes, these market-supporting institutions had reemerged to shift advantage toward entrepreneurial and market-driven modes of organization.
This magisterial new account of the rise and fall of managerialism holds significant implications for contemporary debates about industrial and antitrust policies and the role of the corporation in the twenty-first century.
“Sharp analysis. . . . Chock -full of sophisticated economic theory rendered in lucid prose, this adds up to a bracing evaluation of a consequential and once dominant commercial entity.”—Publishers Weekly
“A new and even better Alf Chandler has arisen, a Chandler who does not believe that the visible hand is always and everywhere the way to wealth. Langlois does the scientific job brilliantly, and does wisely, too, the political job of seeing the lessons for our collective lives.”—Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago
“Richard Langlois’s The Corporation and the Twentieth Century is a major achievement and stands as the best and most important work on the history of the modern American business corporation.” —Tyler Cowen, George Mason University
“Langlois provides an erudite and wide-ranging reinterpretation of the rise and subsequent decline of large managerial corporations in American business history. His emphasis on the political economy context and contingency is important.”—Geoffrey Jones, Harvard Business School
“Langlois offers a profound, accessible, and essential revision of the economic, institutional, and intellectual history of the managerial era. His book is a magisterial, lively, provocative, and timely read.” —Amar Bhide, author of The Venturesome Economy
“In the last half century American high-tech firms and overseas new entrants have eclipsed classic twentieth-century Chandlerian corporations like General Motors and Du Pont. Richard Langlois’s masterpiece—long trailed in thoughtful articles and here distilled and rectified into fine whiskey—pulls no punches where they are necessary for his clinical deconstruction of the Chandlerian paradigm, but is properly respectful of its strengths, carefully weighing the merits of all sides of the argument.”—Leslie Hannah, London School of Economics
“This is a magnificent book. Drawing upon Coase, Williamson, Demsetz, Schumpeter, Hofstadter, and others, Langlois provides an analytical narrative of the development and adaptability of business organizations, their challenges, and responses from the late nineteenth through the early twenty-first centuries. To present this important and complex story of institutional innovation, Langlois combines economic, business, political, and legal history. Langlois’s important analysis of the past 100 years provides optimism for continuation of business enterprise adjustments to promote economic growth and the quality of life.”—Gary D. Libecap, University of California, Santa Barbara, and National Bureau of Economic Research
“Richard Langlois challenges Alfred Chander’s claim that new technologies led large firms inevitably to substitute for markets: the visible hand. Langlois argues that as markets developed more sophistication in the twentieth century, the internal structure of firms changed: the vanishing hand. A combination of markets, firms, and governments explains the rise, decline, and transformation of the corporation in the twentieth-century United States. The book is a rich economic history of the twentieth century from the corporate perspective.”—John Joseph Wallis, University of Maryland and University of Cambridge
“Richard Langlois has written a history of the corporation with three main threads. First, he offers a critique of the Chandler tradition arguing that the Chandler model becomes less applicable after 1972 or so. Second, he offers a critique of U.S. antitrust policy that highlights its liabilities. Third, he offers his own view of the evolution of the corporation, which is a major contribution to understanding the evolution of the corporation in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.”—Louis P. Cain, Northwestern University and Loyola University Chicago
Professor Langlois recently published an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail of Canada, arguing that history helps us understand why today’s inflation is — and isn’t — like inflationary episodes of the past.
Professor Langlois was quoted recently in a CNN Business report about the electric-vehicle maker Rivian.
Leshui He has received tenure at Bates College.
Leshui completed his thesis at UConn in 2013 under the supervision of Professors Richard Langlois, Robert Gibbons, Christian Zimmermann, and Vicki Knoblauch.
He started his position as an Assistant Professor at Bates College in 2015, and works primarily in the fields of organizational economics and industrial organization. He is also working on research projects on education with Professor Stephen L. Ross.
Professor Richard Langlois was quoted in an article in the Stamford Advocate, commenting about the Federal Trade Commission response to a possible acquisition by Stamford-based chemical company Tronox .
The article is online at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/business/article/Tronox-grapples-with-litigation-on-planned-12434139.php
They wanted to hear about the concept of dynamic competition, and provided a set of questions to answer.
The testimony has now been published on Parliament’s website.
Photo credit: BMI Murithi and Nation Media Group
The Department mourns the loss of one of its own. Prof. Kimenyi was a former member of the Department before leaving to join the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. According to BMI Muriithi of the Daily Nation, he passed away on Saturday, June 6, at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, after a long illness. BMI Muriithi’s article in Daily Nation is available here.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his wife, Irene, and his three sons. Condolences and sympathy can be sent to: Irene Wangui Kimenyi , 2011 Wheaton Haven Court, Silver Springs, MD 20902.
The following is a note of memorium written by Prof. Richard Langlois:
A note in memorium of Mwangi S. (Samson) Kimenyi
from his friends and former colleagues at the University of Connecticut
We in the Department of Economics at the University of Connecticut were truly grieved to hear of Samson’s passing.
Samson came to us in 1991 and left to form KIPPRA in 1999, and was thereafter only sporadically in residence in Storrs. But he was with us for almost the entire decade of the nineties. We had hired him away from the University of Mississippi and awarded him the rank of Associate Professor less than five years after his Ph.D., which is an extraordinary rate of advancement. What attracted us to Samson was his astounding rate of publication, on a variety of topics. Among these publications was work on poverty in the United States, which focused on the importance of family structure – and which won the prize for best paper in the Southern Economic Journal. What we discovered after Samson had been with us a short while is that we had hired a wonderful man as well as a wonderful scholar. Those of us who came to know him well found that family was just not an intellectual interest for him but was part of his being, and we admired his devotion to his wife Irene and his three boys, who largely grew up here in Mansfield.
The problem with hiring a superstar, however, is that the world beckons. As Samson’s interests moved in the direction of African development, and as he became increasingly well known in that field, he was tapped to form KIPPRA and then called to the Brookings Institution. But we always considered Samson to have remained a member of our faculty in spirit. Many of us remember his visit part-way through the KIPPRA experience, which was memorable for a seminar in which he shared with us some of his accomplishments and challenges in Kenya.
In a way, we at UConn had already learned to miss Samson. Knowing that the parting is now final is a tragedy to us. But we will always remember his tenure here; and the spirit of his intellectual achievements and his warm personality will always remain part of our department legacy. We wish his family comfort in their time of grief.