• Gordon Boyce
  • Simon Ville


In the 1990s, large-scale companies in the West began making a series of organisational changes designed to enhance their efficiency and responsiveness to turbulent environmental conditions. The emergence of a more highly competitive global market, accelerating technological change and growing consumer preferences for low-cost, high-quality products and services with flexible option packages all called for modifications in the way companies organised their operations. Thus, major enterprises have been flattening their hierarchies in order to accelerate upward and downward communication. (For example, before IBM restructured, delays in obtaining approval for new products enabled competitors to beat it to the market; Economist, 17 November, 1990.) Many large firms have strengthened their core capabilities by developing more focused learning processes using flexible management teams that pursue project-based objectives. Big business has also divested itself of previously sheltered internal units so that they face a market test. Further, large companies have improved efficiency by transforming wholly-owned support units into quasi-independent entities that contract with the parent firm and outside enterprises. Finally, many firms began developing cooperative links with other organisations in order to harness complementary resources and joint-learning capabilities. By mobilising history and theory we can develop a better understanding of the causes and logic behind these structural changes.


Divisional Manager Modern Business Average Cost Curve Task Force Member Senior Management Team 
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Further Reading

  1. Boyce, G. (1995) Information, Mediation, and Institutional Development: The Rise of Large-scale Enterprise in British Shipping, 1870–1919 (Manchester: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Chandler, A.D. (1990) Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  3. Hannah, L. (1983) The Rise of the Corporate Economy, 2nd edn (London: Methuen).Google Scholar
  4. Jones, G. and Wale, J. (1998) ‘Merchants as Business Groups: British Trading Companies in Asia before 1945’, Business History Review, 72 (3).Google Scholar
  5. Lamoreaux, N. (1985) The Great Merger Movement in American Business, 1895–1904 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Suzuki, K. (1997) ‘From Zaibatsu to Corporate Complexes’, in T. Shiba and M. Shimotani (eds), Beyond the Firm (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  7. Ville, S.P. and Merrett, D. (2000) ‘The Development of Large Scale Enterprise in Australia, 1910–64’, Business History, 42 (3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gordon Boyce and Simon Ville 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon Boyce
  • Simon Ville

There are no affiliations available

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