Railroaded

in collaboration with The Spatial History Project


A whole series of studies over the last twenty years dubbed neoinstitutionalism have stressed the interactions in various nations of politics, institutions, and economics to explain differences in development and these have considerable persuasive power, but they often suffer, as Charles Perrow has noted, from a tendency to have these factors solidify into a set of national highways to development that seem to have entrances but no exits. History becomes so path dependent, and thus seemingly inevitable, that both the actual actors -- the bankers, actors, managers, judges, politicians -- recede and the bitter conflicts that corporations provoked tend to disappear. Frank Dobbin's insistence on the important of historically constructed cultural beliefs and Charles Perrow's critique of both the market and neo-institutional approaches are quite elegant and have clearly influences my own interpretations. Perrow, in particular, recognizes that there is never at any given time a single logic at work and there are always competing interests.

Frank Dobbin, Forging Industrial Policy: The United States, Britain and France in the Railway Age, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 1-5.

Colleen Dunlavy, Politics and Industrialization: Early Railroads in the United States and Prussia, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).

Perrow, Organizing America, 124, 211-28.

See also, Perrow, Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay, third edition (New York: Random House, 1986).

Last updated on July 6, 2012 at 11:55am