Humanizing Capitalism: The Educational Mission of the Ford Foundation in West Germany and the United States (1945–1960)

  • Wim de Jong
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


Corporate philanthropy operates within the tension of criticizing a capitalist system it simultaneously promulgates. The clash of moral values takes place within philanthropies and in response to their activities, which are key in the diffusion of moralities of capitalism. In the Cold War period, the Ford Foundation was a key player in globally spreading the idea of free enterprise as fundamental to democracy. In the Cold War, the Foundation criticized authoritarian versions of capitalism that exalted individual instead of collective responsibility. Three arenas of the Ford Foundation’s attempts at humanizing capitalism are examined: in post-war Germany, through the American strategy of emphasizing ‘modern’ industrial relations, subsequently domestically through its big idealistic liberal adult education project, which presumed free enterprise, while striving for transcendence of the shortcomings of consumerist society; finally, by reforming business and management education.


Corporate philanthropy Capitalism Democracy Re-education Adult education Management education 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wim de Jong
    • 1
  1. 1.Open UniversiteitHeerlenThe Netherlands

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