I was sad to hear about the death of Alfred Chandler, the professor whose works were instrumental in giving me an understanding of what suits did.
He was described as a business historian, and to an extent it was the title alone that led to my researching his works. I found his writings fascinating, more as a counterpoint to Drucker than anything else. I loved what Drucker wrote, so it made sense for me to spend time understanding other viewpoints. We can so easily become dogmatic, even heretical in our views.
Chandler stood for structure, for process, for “professional management”, for many aspects of organisation I am not particularly
fond of. I have written before about Chandler’s Law, something that anyone involved in strategic change should read and understand.
He will be remembered more for his Pulitzer winning book “the visible hand” than anything else, since it was the first serious management book to push back against the Adam Smith Invisible Hand doctrine in a formal and structured way.
While I disagreed with many things he wrote about, I was very taken by the detailed, objective and dispassionate way he dealt with the subjects at hand, a true and talented “business historian”. Probably the first of his kind.
It was strange to read Sean’s post bemoaning the pushback against market forces (I think the context was weather and Australia) soon after hearing about Chandler’s death.
What Alfred Chandler did was to help me understand the motives of professional management cadres, even if I didn’t agree with them. Thank you Alfred.