Beginning in earnest in the wake of World War II, opinion-shapers in politics, business, academia, the media, the schools, and public diplomacy gloried in the nation's booming economy. Where "plenty" had once been a largely abstract concept, it was now quantifiable, thanks to new national income accounting and other economic data collection and analysis techniques. One could tally up production and consumption of an ever-expanding cornucopia of goods and services that made up the gross national product (GNP), the king of postwar statistics. American preeminence and American identity were increasingly linked with this measurable prosperity, presented in the language of a newly influential economics profession.
In Measuring America, Andrew L. Yarrow explores this history, telling two parallel, interlocking stories -- of how economic ideas came to have vastly greater influence on American culture after World War II, and how those ideas dovetailed with a growing belief that the meaning and value of the United States resided in its material output. How and why this new way of "measuring America" developed, how it was expressed, and what it has meant and means for Americans today are the subject of this well-researched and insightful book.
A compelling look at the movements and developments that propelled America to world dominance
In this landmark work, acclaimed historian Joshua Freeman has created an epic portrait of a nation both galvanized by change and driven by conflict. Beginning in 1945, the economic juggernaut awakened by World War II transformed a country once defined by its regional character into a uniform and cohesive power and set the stage for the United States’ rise to global dominance. Meanwhile, Freeman locates the profound tragedy that has shaped the path of American civic life, unfolding how the civil rights and labor movements worked for decades to enlarge the rights of millions of Americans, only to watch power ultimately slip from individual citizens to private corporations. Moving through McCarthyism and Vietnam, from the Great Society to Morning in America, Joshua Freeman’s sweeping story of a nation’s rise reveals forces at play that will continue to affect the future role of American influence and might in the greater world.
This is the origin story of the airwaves—the foundational technology of the communications age—as told through the forty-year friendship of an entrepreneurial industrialist and a brilliant inventor.
David Sarnoff, the head of RCA and equal parts Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, and William Randolph Hearst, was the greatest supporter of his friend Edwin Armstrong, developer of the first amplifier, the modern radio transmitter, and FM radio. Sarnoff was convinced that Armstrong’s inventions had the power to change the way societies communicated with each other forever. He would become a visionary captain of the media industry, even predicting the advent of the Internet.
In the mid-1930s, however, when Armstrong suspected Sarnoff of orchestrating a cadre of government officials to seize control of the FM airwaves, he committed suicide. Sarnoff had a very different view of who his friend’s enemies were.
Many corrupt politicians and corporations saw in Armstrong’s inventions the opportunity to commodify our most ubiquitous natural resource—the air. This early alliance between high tech and business set the precedent for countless legal and industrial battles over broadband and licensing bandwidth, many of which continue to influence policy and debate today.
But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”
Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?