Abstract: Local Cultures and International Influences among an Italian Group of Management Practitioners after the Second World War

Fabio Lavista


This essay analyzes the creation and evolution of an informal network of managers, engineers, and technicians that influenced the modernization of management practice and culture in Italy between the late 1940s and the 1960s. One level of analysis deals directly with practices; the second describes the channels and the forms through which business knowledge spread during the postwar decades. On the first level, I analyze the re-engineering processes in two leading Italian light manufacturing industries, Olivetti and Necchi, explaining their characteristic techno-logical and institutional circumstances and the ways in which they attempted to adapt earlier versions of scientific management learned in the interwar period to new economic and technological conditions. On the second level, I trace the creation of a network for diffusing this information via published journals and public seminars and through foreign connections originating primarily in the institutions linked to the U.S. Technical Assistance and Productivity Program. My work allows us to identify the carriers of Americanization and, moreover, to understand how they acted and whether or not they succeeded.

BEH On-Line Paper