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Lecture 17

GMGT 1010 Lecture 17: read 8

3 Pages

General Management
Course Code
GMGT 1010
Farhan Islam

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The Increasing Dominance and Size of Corporations i Until a couple of centuries ago, there were very few large organizations like the type that are so common today. One exception is the Roman Catholic churchcurrently numbering about 1.2 billion peoplewhich has been the largest organization in the world for centuries. Historically, other significant organizations include guilds, various nation and citystates, and occasional empires. Until recently, most work took place in small businesses. There were many family firms, where the owner was the manager and was personally related to most of the workers. Because organizations were small, workers knew how their work fit into the whole, and there was a strong sense of community and interdependence in the workplace. iii Several centuries ago this emphasis on working in smallscale organizations started to change, facilitated in part by a variety of social, technological and legal changes. An example of this was described in the opening case about Josiah Wedgwood and the Industrial Revolution. Adam Smiths description of a pin factory, published in 1776, provides what is perhaps the best single example to help understand the shift toward people working in factories and away from working in households. Smith demonstrated the merits of specialization and a division of labour by describing how four workers, each performing a specialized task, could produce a total of 48,000 pins per day instead of the 12 pins per day that each would produce working independently and doing all the tasks. By rationalizing work in factories, productivity could be dramatically increased. Smiths analysis was compelling, and reflected how the Industrial Revolution was changing where people worked (more and more people began to work in factories) and the type of work they did (highly specialized and repetitive). A brief look at the history of the corporation provides further insight into how things iv have changed. Modern management would not be possible without the change in the social and legal meaning of an organization. Traditionally, most businesses had been seen as an extension of a household. This changed after organizations were given a life of their own, and were allowed to act as legal citizens. The privilege of allowing an organization to act as a legal citizens was granted with the understanding and under the condition that the organization would enhance the common good. Indeed, an organizations charter was to be taken away if it failed to act in the common good. This responsibility to act for the common good extended far beyond merely being prudent with the financial investments of owners and shareholders. Before the advent of the modernday corporation, any debts that businesspeople incurred were passed on from one generation to the next. As a result, people might find themselves forced to pay for their grandparents failed business or risk being thrown into v prison. This changed with the advent of the idea of limited liability, which means simply that the organizations owners are not personally responsible for financial costs that exceed the amounts they invested in the organization. Owners can limit the amount of money that they are liable to pay if things go bad. For example, if you invested 10,000 in a pizza company, and the company went bankrupt while owing 100,000 to different suppliers, the most you could lose as the business owner would be 10,000. The history of modern corporations, and the idea of limited liability, can be traced back about 500 years to the time when European states established corporate charters in order to
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