Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. v

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Preface

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pp. vii-x

In the summer of 1990, when I had lived for only a year in Alma, Michigan, I attended a seminar at MIT on the “Myth and Reality of American Decline.” On the first morning, the leader, Richard Vallely, asked each of us to introduce ourselves. Since I had sat in the front right of the...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

While innumerable historic examples exist of abuse of individual power and excessive self-interest, early twenty-first century global financial crises illustrate that such abuses can impact large numbers of people and communities. Individual excess transitioned into a fundamental...

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Chapter 1: Corporate Leadership Problems

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pp. 21-57

On December 29, 1999, Fruit of the Loom, the underwear giant, filed for bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Delaware. What had gone wrong to turn the owner of one of the world’s best-known icons, the Fruit of the Loom trademark...

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Chapter 2: New Corporations and New Regulations

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pp. 59-84

On June 14, 1965, the Chicago and North Western Railroad (C&NW), headed by Ben Heineman, confirmed rumors of the previous month, announcing that it was buying Velsicol Chemical from the Regenstein family.1 Velsicol now joined the same type of corporate...

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Chapter 3: Disempowering Communities

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pp. 85-110

If Velsicol’s sole problem in the 1970s had been the one in St. Louis, Michigan, the firm might be seen as the unfortunate victim of an accident. If the deals that shut the St. Louis plant were the only ones signed by the firm, Northwest Industries might have been regarded as a model...

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Chapter 4: New Management

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pp. 111-132

It was not surprising that Ben Heineman paid little attention to Velsicol except after crises that had festered for years. Throughout Heineman’s ownership, Northwest repeatedly faced the challenge of staying ahead of the creditors. Since many of its subsidiaries...

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Chapter 5: Creating Junk

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pp. 133-154

The fundamentals of Farley’s methods of operation were so typical of the behavior of a large class of American entrepreneurs that few business leaders would criticize him, until it was too late. By contrast, the people at West Point, Georgia, noted two...

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Chapter 6: Importing Fruit

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pp. 155-183

Similar to the troubles at Acme and Doehler, after 1990, the problems at Fruit of the Loom devastated communities, workers, and investors. As happened with the other subsidiaries, neither the media nor pubic officials got the story right...

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Chapter 7: Experts and Local Knowledge

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pp. 185-210

Fruit of the Loom and its subsidiaries, by transferring work overseas, instigated the theft of jobs at home and the loss of technological expertise to benefit a few incompetent managers. In contrast, Velsicol symbolized the looting of natural resources...

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Chapter 8: Consequences and Controls

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pp. 211-231

The history narrated in this inquiry exposes corporate leadership failures and some institutional pathologies that require clarification and study. It recounts more than the rise and fall of a chemical, boot, or underwear manufacturer...

Notes

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pp. 233-306

Bibliography

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pp. 307-326

Index

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pp. 327-332

Back Cover

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