Organizational Charts from 1915

17 June 2008 at 12:21 pm 6 comments

| Peter Klein |

These images come from Frank Fetter’s second principles treatise, his Economic Principles (1915), which included chapters on “Enterprise” and “Management.” Note that at the top of the hierarchy sits the “enterpriser,” a term Fetter borrowed from Frederick Hawley), instead of “entrepreneur” or “adventurer,” both of which were then in common use to describe the business person. (Adventurer meant simply “one who undertakes a venture.”) Hawley preferred enterpriser because it suggested not simply management, but “responsibility,” or “the subjection [of one’s actions] to the results of production” (Hawley, 1908, p. 470). This is essentially the concept of entrepreneurship proposed in recent Foss-Klein papers (some of which you can find here), namely judgmental decision-making about the deployment of resources in the face of Knightian uncertainty.

I like how the figure below identifies stockholders as enterprisers. My view that corporate shareholders are entrepreneurs, in the functional sense described above, is usually met with polite curiosity at best, bewilderment or scorn at worst. Maybe I should have been writing in 1915.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Entrepreneurship, Management Theory.

Academic Journal Fakery Searle Center Conference on the Economics and Law of the Entrepreneur

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vintage orgporn « PublicOrgTheory  |  17 June 2008 at 12:33 pm

    […] blogs, and when they’re as good as this one, how could I not? Peter Klein has found some vintage org charts that might be some of the earliest […]

  • 2. spostrel  |  17 June 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I’ve always been partial to the old term “projector,” which I think captures the forward-looking imaginative aspects even better than “enterpriser.” BTW, around Montreal I saw the word “entrepreneur” used to mean “building contractor,” so maybe we should find something with more international generalizability.

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  17 June 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Even worse is the literal translation, “undertaker”!

  • 4. LinkSpasm - 21 June 2008 « PurpleSlog  |  21 June 2008 at 2:39 am

    […] Org charts from 1915 […]

  • 5. Mike Sykuta  |  30 June 2008 at 1:17 pm

    So is this a confession that Foss- Klein were scooped by some 90+ years?

  • 6. Peter Klein  |  1 July 2008 at 10:15 am

    Those old guys were _way_ ahead of their time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Nicolai J. Foss | home | posts
Peter G. Klein | home | posts
Richard Langlois | home | posts
Lasse B. Lien | home | posts


Former Guests | posts


Recent Posts



Our Recent Books

Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).

%d bloggers like this: