Transnational Fordism. Ford Motor Company, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union in the Interwar Years

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Transnational Fordism. Ford Motor Company, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union in the Interwar Years

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Title: Transnational Fordism. Ford Motor Company, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union in the Interwar Years
Author: Link, Stefan
Citation: Link, Stefan. 2012. Transnational Fordism. Ford Motor Company, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union in the Interwar Years. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This historical dissertation investigates the international proliferation of Fordism in politically illiberal settings during the 1920s and 1930s. Based on American, German, and Soviet primary sources, it is the first archive-based study of this process. The dissertation's main finding is that the implementation of Ford's ideas and practices was a key component of illiberal modernization drives - that is, projects of state-led economic growth which explicitly fashioned themselves as alternatives to Western liberal capitalism. This point of view is a departure from previous accounts of the global success of Fordism, which subsume the story under the spread of American market capitalism or portray it as a process of quasi-self-explanatory technology transfer. It is also distinct from the well-known approach in history and the social sciences that describes Fordism as a specifically capitalist production regime (in distinction to a later post-Fordism). The argument pursued here requires a re-interpretation of Ford Motor Company's position within the American corporate arena of the 1920s and 1930s. Undertaken in the opening chapter, this re-examination characterizes the production practice of Ford Motor Company as an illiberal strategic alternative to the American business mainstream. Subsequent chapters trace the reception of Ford's political and business writings abroad, reconstruct the Nazi and Soviet motorization effort in the wake of Ford's model, and examine the transfer of Ford's mass production techniques to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The empirical results show that motorization and productive efficiency, both associated with Ford's innovations, became hallmarks of illiberal modernization efforts in these countries. The dissertation highlights the importance of non-market motivations for economic actors and policy-makers. It introduces the term illiberal modernism to describe the motivating power of ideology on economic practice during the interwar years.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10288949
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