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Archives:Competition and Consolidation in the Electrical Manufacturing Industry, 1889-1892

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Abstract

Despite the importance of both competition and consolidation in the American economy, how much do we know about how these two modes influence each other? How does competition give way to consolidation in certain industries at certain times? In particular, during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century, much of American business was highly competitive, consisting of large numbers of small firms offering one or two products to local or regional markets. Yet between 1875 and 1900, the American economy witnessed the rise of large firms using high-speed, high-volume technology to distribute goods throughout the United States and overseas. How did this remarkable change come about? This article uses the story of General Electric to explore the interplay of competition and consolidation in the American electrical industry in the late nineteenth century.

Citation and Link to Full Article

W. Bernard Carlson, "Competition and Consolidation in the Electrical Manufacturing Industry, 1889-1892," in Technological Competitiveness: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Industries (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1993), 287-311.

Competition and Consolidation in the Electrical Manufacturing Industry, 1889-1892 (pdf)