This paper reviews Chandler’s work ‘The Visible Hand’ on explaining the rise of the modern business enterprise in the United States. In the first part of the paper, the author revisited Chandler’s finding: technologically based organizational innovations hastened a ‘managerial revolution’ that transformed the American economy in the decades between 1840 and 1920. In details, Chandler divided this period of time into three stages: in the first stage (1790 – 1840), the market was the primary mechanism for the production and distribution of goods and services and the modern business enterprise remained unknown. In the second stage (1840 – 1880), the modern business enterprise emerged to coordinate the epochal changes in transportation and communication set in motion by the steam railroad, the electric telegraph, and the wide spread utilization of anthracite coal. In the third stage (1880 – 1920), the completion of the railroad and telegraph network hastened the emergence of the modern industrial enterprise.
The paper also spends much words talking about the reaction of historians: champions who creatively alaborated Chandler’s work; critics who question the difference between Chandler’s and their own work; and skeptics that rejected Chandler’s analysis outright.
Albeit suffering from subjective views, incomplete thinking, etc., it seems that Chandler really grasped what is the most important and drove it to an extreme. Such effort was greatly appreciated.