Adelstein Author of The Rise of Planning in Industrial America

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is the author of The Rise of Planning in Industrial America, 1865-1914, published by Routledge in March 2012.

In the book, Adelstein explores the remarkable transformation undergone by business in the U.S. over the half-century following the Civil War—from small sole proprietorships and proprietorships to massive corporations possessing many of the same constitutional rights as living men and women. Approaching this story through historical, philosophical, legal and economic lenses, Adelstein presents an original, three-pronged theory of the rise of business firms.

He traces the big business boom to three historic developments: a major managerial achievement within the firms themselves; a ill-conceived and ill-timed attempt by legislators to rein in rapidly expanding firms; and the Supreme Court’s understated—but immensely consequential—decision granting constitutional rights to corporations separate from those of their owners. Read more about the book in this March 26, 2012 Wesleyan Connection story.