Neil W. Chamberlain

Let us begin by taking this rather portentious title apart. Dissection is often conducive to analysis. When we speak of the philosophy of "American management," we lump all managers together in what is presumed to be a common mold, as though they thought alike about, and reacted alike to, some other homogeneous entity which we label "labor." But this is, of course, a literary fiction. We are scarcely warranted, even in pleading the theorist's right to abstract and to generalize, to engage in such sweeping characterizations. We have to fall back on a journalist's impressionism, which is admittedly not without its value. Historians do the same when they try to catch the spirit of a time or place.


But we should pause long enough, before plunging ahead on this impressionistic basis, to appreciate the diversity that we embrace within these two categories. Management attitudes toward labor range over a whole spectrum. At one pole, we have employers who take a generally optimistic and favorable attitude toward labor, who try to understand labor's objectives and to work out a cooperative relationship. One example of such a managerial approach on the contemporary American scene is provided by the Kaiser Steel Company in California. This is the business firm that joined, a few years ago, with the Steelworkers


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Labor in a Changing America


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