Fall of the New York Times (cont.)


Jack Risko, of Dinocrat.com, has an interesting essay on corporate arrogance, technological progress, and the fall of the New York Times. Like me, Jack had the good fortune to have studied under the great Alfred Chandler, who virtually invented the discipline of business history, and who inspired generations of scholars and business executives to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past by studying history.
Jack is a scholar—executive, a particularly potent combination of talents.

Read the whole thing. Here are a couple of choice paragraphs.

I want to place the New York Times in the context of other American businesses which became complacent and arrogant, and suffered prolonged, mostly irreversible, declines as a result. It's a list with a lot of famous names: United States Steel, AT&T, General Motors, Boeing, at their peaks the pinnacles of their industries, but through the arrogance of their senior executives, and the inertia bred from this arrogance, they created market opportunities for new competitors who ate their lunches.

A few examples:

The United States steel industry had its peak production year in 1959, and has been in a long decline ever since. It did not have to be this way, because there were technologies available to the major steel producers in the 1960's and 70's to lower their costs significantly, by moving production to electric 'mini—mills' and continuous process steelmaking instead of integrated steel facilities, with their coke ovens, blast furnaces, separate rolling and coating facilities, etc. The big steel producers like United Sates Steel, Bethlehem, Armco, Republic, Jones & Laughlin, National, and others shunned the mini—mills, in what seemed to me at the time an illogical, macho demonstration of how real men make steel. Well, all they ended up showing is how real men go bankrupt (including almost all the above companies). They left it to the mini—mill companies they despised and ignored, like Nucor, to become the profitable players in the industry.

Posted by Thomas  8 23 04