Abstract: Firms, Networks, and Systems: Coping with Complexity

Thomas P. Hughes


Because of Alfred D. Chandler Jr.'s widely influential books and articles, historians of management and of business have often taken the firm, especially the manufacturing firm, as their unit of analysis. Before considering his and their approach, however, we should acknowledge that there are other approaches to management and business history that take into consideration the management of networked systems. After discussing an approach that focuses on the firm, I shall consider other approaches to business and management history that take into account networked electric utilities and multi-firm, networked systems.