Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
H. Abbie Erler
Deindustrialization has destabilized the economy and communities of the American Midwest over the last several decades. This thesis analyzes this phenomenon by posing the question – Why do some manufacturing firms leave, while others remain and grow? In order to answer this question, I develop a typology of three ideal firms – the Chandlerian firm, the Mittelstand firm, and the Industrial District – based on their internal modes of corporate governance, strategy, organization, and production. Each type varies across two outcomes which answer this question, namely its economic success and geographic commitment. Economic success evaluates whether a firm can manufacture efficiently and competitively to make profits and stay in business. Geographic commitment considers economic and non- economic factors which bind a firm’s owners and managers to a local community. I expand on these three firm types and their outcomes by combining scholarly literature with case studies of manufacturing firms from my field research in north-central Ohio and more specifically, in Holmes, Knox, and Richland counties. The Chandlerian firm represents a large, mass producer which was always geographically uncommitted and only became economically unsuccessful in the 1970s, after leading the American economy for several decades. The Mittelstand firm stems from Germany and is characterized by its family-ownership and craft production methods which have driven its economic success and geographic commitment. The Industrial District contains many small, interconnected firms which manufacture a common product. It is also economically successful and geographically committed. Throughout the thesis, I argue that the Mittelstand firm and Industrial District serve as models to remedy the rust of the Midwestern economy.
Kreuzer, Lucas, "Varieties of Manufacturing: Remedying Rust in the Industrial Heartland" (2020). Honors Theses. 254.
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