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Americanisation in 20th Century Europe: business, culture, politics. Volume 2

 | 
Nick Tiratsoo
, 
Mathias Kipping

The 'americanisation' of European companies, consumers and cultures: contents, processes and outcomes

Matthias Kipping et Nick Tiratsoo

Texte intégral

  • 1 For a summary of the earlier literature, see C. S. Maier, “Introduction: ‘Issue then is Germany an (...)
  • 2 There was, for example, an extensive debate about the part played by the Marshall Plan in the Germ (...)
  • 3 E.g. B. Eichengreen and M. Uzan, “The Marshall Plan: Economic Effects and Implications for Eastern (...)

1Business and economic historians have been looking seriously at ‘Americanisation’ for at least the last three decades. At first, their focus was primarily on US influence in Europe and Japan after the Second World War, and especially the Marshall Plan.1 The most salient debate concerned American motives. In the context of the unfolding Cold War, many authors favoured broad geo-political explanations, but there was also growing concern with economic driving forces and consequences – especially macro-economic functioning and trade relationships. To what extent, it was asked, had US aid stimulated growth and contained inflation?2 The demise of the Soviet block in the late 1980s and early 1990s gave further impetus to this perspective, since the Marshall programme appeared to offer a model for the pending reconstruction of Eastern Europe.3

  • 4 See, for example, A. B. Carew, Labour under the Marshall plan: the politics of productivity and th (...)
  • 5 For a comprehensive, albeit somewhat partisan overview, see J. Zeitlin, “Introduction”, in J. Zeit (...)
  • 6 E.g. T. Gourvish and N. Tlratsoo (eds.), Missionaries and managers: American influences on Europea (...)
  • 7 See, from a historical perspective, esp. A. D. Chandler Jr., Scale and Scope. The Dynamics of Indu (...)
  • 8 Though for recent attempts at a more genuinely cross-disciplinary approach, see M. Kipping and L. (...)

2However, from the early 1990s onwards, there was growing interest, too, in the micro-economic aspects of the American efforts, particularly the so-called productivity or technical assistance programmes which had accompanied the original Marshall Plan initiative.4 This new focus has produced several detailed analyses of how Americanisation proceeded in a range of different settings5 and also encouraged examination of various ‘carriers’, the agencies and actors that diffused management models from the United State, and, as a consequence, there have been recent studies of, amongst other things, the spread of US-style business education, the role of ‘Americanised’ individuals and technical experts, and the influence of management consultancies.6 Taken together, such work has certainly contributed to a number of wider debates about the expansion of American forms of productive and corporate organisation during the Twentieth Century as a whole.7 On the other hand, there is no doubt that better linkages with other social scientists - for example, those working on ‘management fashions’ and the ‘management advice industry’ - remain to be forged.8

  • 9 Thus, Works on the development of consumerism, such as V. de Grazia (ed.), The sex of things: gend (...)

3Our aim in organising Session B at the Roubaix conference was to interrogate current understandings of ‘Americanisation’ and hopefully produce new and fruitful departures. We began from an awareness of the existing historiography’s weaknesses and lacunae. Few of the detailed enquiries looked outside the traditional manufacturing sectors (steel, automobiles, metalworking, and textiles). Moreover, many of those who had examined the business or economic aspects of Americanisation appeared to be largely unaware of the stimulating insights being opened up by peers with cultural or social bents.9 At least two historical literatures existed side-by-side, with little cross-fertilisation. It seemed apposite, therefore, to encourage the broadest possible view of American influence, encompassing the whole of the micro-economic sphere during the last century, and including not only companies, but also consumers and ‘business cultures’ in general. In our view, a useful practical way forward was to highlight three particular themes:

Changes in management practice: we looked for in-depth case studies about the impact of the American example on management practice and corporate culture in European companies or industries. Such US models at the company level could include, for instance, scientific management, the M-form, budgetary control, marketing or human relations policies. We asked contributors to examine in some detail the transfer process, the extent to which the American models were adapted to the national, local or corporate contexts, and the reaction of different stakeholders.
Consumption aspects: we were particularly interested in the influence of American distribution and consumption patterns on Europe during the Twentieth Century. We invited contributors to examine the transfer of different sales methods (mail order, the supermarket, etc.) and their adaptation to the European context, or different aspects of consumer society and their business implications, for example the development of advertising agencies or tourism.
Cultural influences: we wanted to find out about the different ‘carriers’ through which American cultural models were transferred to Europe, for example music and films, but also style in the widest sense, including the generation of ‘identities’. Among other things, contributors were asked to look at the businesses behind these different cultural influences and/or government efforts to control and shape them.

4The papers presented at the conference and revised for this volume collectively address these issues in more or less detail. They cover developments both before and after the Second World War, and explore a broad range of subjects – production and management, of course, but also services - banking (Booth), tourism (King) and advertising (Segreto); consumer industries - food retailing (Lescent-Giles) and mail order (Coopey and Porter); the consumer and consumer politics (Heinonen and Pantzar, Hilton, Obelkevich); and culture, particularly film (Miskell; Sedgwick; Braun). The geographical net is spread wide, too, with many of the studies concentrating on the often previously overlooked smaller or more peripheral constituents of Europe, for example Scotland (Knox and McKinlay), Norway (Amdam and Sogner), Finland (Heinonen and Pantzar), the French protectorate of Morocco (Saul), Spain (Puig; García-Ruiz) and the Netherlands (Sluyterman). Due to the diversity of these contributions, it is difficult to provide a comprehensive and cohesive summary of their findings. But taken together, they allow us to present a number of ‘stylised facts’ about the influence of American ideas on European companies, consumers and culture. These concern the contents, processes and outcomes of ‘Americanisation’.

contents: the united states as a ‘reference society’

  • 10 For the term ‘reference society’, see Guillén 1994: 290.
  • 11 For the ambivalent position of French companies and top managers towards American management knowl (...)

5First, the contributions to this volume confirm that for most of the Twentieth Century, the United States provided a – usually the - major point of reference for European companies, consumers and cultures.10 Most obviously, Europeans looked west for the latest household items (Heinonen and Pantzar) and production technologies - for example the continuous strip mills in the Steel industry (Ranieri), or the extraction and smelting equipment at the Zellidja Mining Company (Saul). But they also sought to learn from the US in an enormously wide variety of other settings. Thus, America provided a ‘reference’ in mail order retailing (Coopey and Porter), retail banking (Booth), and marketing and advertising (Obelkevich, Segreto). European management, too, was greatly influenced, particularly as regards business techniques and personnel policies. Even in a supposedly anti-American country such as France, managers were prone to use American management vocabulary, while US-based management gurus were frequently quoted in the business journals (Lanthier).11

6In the cultural sphere, the US hegemony was even more obvious. Hollywood film producers had already come to dominate the most important European markets such as Britain and Germany by the early inter-war period, using a number of innovations in terms of organisation – vertical integration of production and distribution – as well as promotion – the creation and marketing of stars (Miskell; Sedgwick; Braun). The key point was that the size of the US market allowed them to recoup production costs solely from domestic distribution, which was not the case for their European competitors (Sedgwick). Indigenous film production was in most of these cases relegated to a secondary position. In the UK, this development was slowed down by protective government measures, though ultimately only temporarily (Miskell; Sedgwick). Even Europe’s largest film producer and distributor, the German UFA company, proved unable to resist US dominance and was eventually forced to co-operate with Hollywood (Braun).

7But this does not mean that US methods were necessarily always superior. The medium-sized Dutch company Océ-van der Grinten managed to remain highly competitive in document copying for much of the Twentieth Century because of its mastery of certain Chemical processes – and this despite the much larger resources of its US competitors (Sluyterman). Similarly, in retail banking, the regulatory regime established during the inter-war period imposed severe constraints on the later efficiency and expansion of American operators – in clear contrast to their highly concentrated (albeit cartelised) British counterparts (Booth). Indeed, in some cases, it is clear that the US was not even necessarily pioneering. The way standard costing and budgeting developed is salutary. Companies in France and Great Britain introduced these techniques at the same time as, or, in the case of budgeting, even before their American counterparts. Where the US companies led, perhaps, was simply in being more active and more successful in propagating their insights (Berland et al.).

  • 12 Cf. M. Kipping, “‘Operation Impact”: Converting European Business Leaders to the American Creed’, (...)
  • 13 On the multiplicity of US manufacturing practices, see P. Scranton, Endless novelty. Speciality pr (...)

8Second, this volume also confirms that there was rarely a single ‘American model’. Of course, it is certainly true that a small but influential group of industrialists and government officials worked tirelessly throughout this period to popularise just such an idea, propounding in particular, a unified and progressive vision of US business.12 Yet as recent research has shown, such notions were always only highly selective pictures of actual practices, and can never be understood as representative of American realities as a whole.13 This point is particularly evident in the study presented here of how US multinational in post-war Scotland coped with organised labour. For while the official technical assistance advice was that managers should do everything in their power to cooperate with ‘responsible’ workers, the companies themselves were opting for a rather different strategy, which combined paternalism with an unwavering hostility to any form of independent shopfloor representation (Knox and McKinlay). In this sense, the supposed ‘US model’ could be at best a kind of moving target, at worst an idealised chimera with little correspondence to reality.

9Following on from this, it is unsurprising to find that US influence changed considerably over time and according to geographic area. It appears to have been particularly important after the Second World War – something that the previous literature has already emphasised. The reasons for this are not hard to find. First, there was an absence of alternative models. The Soviet Union might dominate in Eastern Europe, and influence some Western Communist Parties, but obvious political and ideological barriers held it firmly in check everywhere else. Another alternative, Germany, had not only lost the war, but also – at least temporarily – its role as an avatar, both in terms of technology and management. Thus, in the Nordic countries, for example, it is possible to chart quite precisely how German influence quickly waned after 1945, particularly in academic and management affairs (Byrkeflot; Heinonen and Pantzar).

10More positively, there is also the fact that some influential American policy makers and business leaders were now keen to ‘sell’ their version of the US model to other countries, overturning their previous predilection for isolationism. This was made easier, of course, because the US was the most powerful country in the world in military, political and economic terms. Inevitably, therefore, the Marshall Plan and the technical assistance programmes provided straightforward vehicles for the transmission of values. There were any number of instances where the US used its power to influence behaviour and attitudes, or where the sheer size of the American market ultimately worked in a similar way. Thus, in the Irish case, American-inspired prescriptions quite clearly shaped the formulation of tourist policy for several decades. But this was not a matter, it must be underlined, of either conspiracy or even direct exhortation. What happened was that both the Irish national tourist board and Aer Lingus chose to use particular images of ‘traditional’ scenes in their advertisements because they believed that these would prove attractive to potential holidaymakers across the Atlantic (King).

11On occasion, the Americans were willing to pursue their goals with considerable vigour, sometimes even ruthlessness. Thus, when the British government attempted to benefit financially from their public’s love of Hollywood films by imposing a 75 per cent import duty in 1947, American producers immediately boycotted the UK market. Given the audience’s preferences and the simultaneous intensification of US State Department pressure, it should come as no surprise that the British government quickly reduced the tariff to more acceptable levels (Miskell). Of course, American companies usually possessed considerable financial resources, and this gave them further advantages over their European competitors. In 1963, when the Spanish engine and truck maker Barreiros was unable to raise funds from domestic sources for its ambitious expansion plans or find a partner in Britain, it had to turn to the Chrysler Corporation, which acquired a share in the company. Hopes that the American shareholder would remain ‘silent’ and interfere little in actual management were soon thwarted. Only three years later, the family had to surrender control of the firm (Garda Ruiz). Similarly, the US multinationals investing in Scotland cared little about the historically sanctioned informal agreements between local employers and unions regarding hiring practices and wage levels, but simply used their financial muscle to attract highly skilled engineers and then keep them happy through an extensive welfare policy (Knox and McKinlay). Another interesting case in this respect concerns Océ-van der Grinten. Its patents had been confiscated in most of the Allied countries during the war. But the US authorities were most reluctant to return them to their owners. First, they asked for proof that the company had not collaborated with the Germans and assurances that it was neither dealing nor planning to deal with Communist countries. When satisfied on these points, the Office of Allied Property subsequently invoked ‘the United States national interest’ and US antitrust laws to adjourn the return of the confiscated intellectual property sine die – much to the surprise and dismay of the Dutch owners (Sluyterman).

12This example is especially significant, because as in so many other countries after the Second World War, the Dutch population was very keen to copy the American way of life’ with its overt celebration of the individual and material prosperity (ibid.). Similarly, in Finland the United States became a Symbol of freedom and modernity. The key factors here were not only the attractions of American consumerism but also some features of the country’s history and geopolitical situation, particularly those generated by its proximity to the Soviet Union. However, after an initial phase of ‘idolisation’, the Finnish media gradually became more critical about America, and, as a result, there was a partial return to, and reassertion of, home-grown, Scandinavian values, particularly noticeable, for example, in relation to design (Heinonen and Pantzar).

  • 14 On the rationality behind this kind of behaviour, see in general J.W. Meyer and B. Rowan, “Institu (...)

13The Finnish example suggests that the motivations of those referring to the United States were not always related to its alleged economic efficiency, but sometimes concerned its modem and superior image, its apparent status as the face of the future.14 Further illumination of this point is provided by the case of the academic exchange programmes between the United States and Belgium. Neither the organisers nor the participants here seemed first and foremost interested in the transfer of knowledge (Bertrams). The US representatives consistently highlighted their importance in creating support for American foreign policy in Belgium – with (statistically dubious) opinion polls suggesting that they had indeed achieved this objective. By contrast, the Belgian participants were mainly motivated by the prestige of contact with Americans, the benefits resulting from the creation of domestic networks, and the improved job opportunities which followed from their participation in the programmes.

14Overall therefore, while contributions to this volume highlight the role of the US as a general reference for Western Europe companies, consumers and cultures, they also suggest caution about how this process actually worked. US ideas and methods were diverse, as well as constantly evolving. Americans had different interests and motivations. Declared aims sometimes hid harsher realities. A closer examination of the transfer processes and their outcomes confirms this impression.

processes: complexity and supply-demand interaction

  • 15 On the need to examine both senders and receivers, see O. Bjarnar and M. Kipping, “The Marshall Pl (...)
  • 16 Cf. M. Kipping, “Consultancy and Conflicts: Bedaux at Lukens Steel and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Compa (...)

15While US government agencies and businesses periodically tried to ‘export’ their ideas abroad, this was rarely a simple transfer on the back of American power. Indeed, as most contributions to this volume highlight, interactions were usually rather complex. To begin with, it is important to stress that Europeans were often active searchers for American solutions, and discerning ones at that.15 British mail order retailers regularly sent their staff to visit the offices and warehouses of their counterparts in Chicago from the 1930s onwards (Coopey and Porter). British bankers also followed developments on the other side of the Atlantic very closely, especially in terms of new products such as credit cards (Booth). A final example concerns the Zellidja Mining Company in the French protectorate of Morocco. In 1941 and 1942, it had adopted the Bedaux System in order to improve efficiency and make up for the war-imposed shortages of manpower.16 And immediately after the Second World War, concerned about the backwardness of its operations, it invited two US mining companies to join its board. Engineers from these companies subsequently assessed its operations and made recommendations for their improvement. In turn, Zellidja officials visited the States (Saul).

16Moreover, on the occasions when the Americans took the initiative – for example in the technical assistance programmes - the transfer process invariably involved a wide range of intermediaries, a web of actors and institutions that went far beyond the public agencies on either side of the Atlantic. To begin with, it is important to note that particular individuals on occasion played quite crucial roles in these interactions. Perhaps the most efficacious were those with detailed knowledge of the economic and cultural context in the receiving country, since they often had the ability to select and implement the most relevant ideas. There are many instances. Sune Carlsson, the well-known Swedish management scholar, was instrumental in creating a personnel department at Norsk Hydro, the first in Norway (Amdam and Sogner). In Belgium, Gaston Deurinck and others participants in US exchange programmes eased the spread of the productivity gospel (Bertram). In France, some of those who had participated in the productivity missions to the United States in the 1950s reached leading positions in their companies twenty years later and probably contributed to the growing acceptance of American management practices (Lanthier). And in Spain, there was Fermín de la Sierra, a young engineer and official at the Ministry of Industry, who travelled across the Atlantic in 1946 and 1947 to study new management methods and subsequently became the first professor of industrial organization at the Madrid School of Industrial Engineering (Puig).

  • 17 Cf. also R. Kvalshaugen and R.P. Amdam, “Etablering og utvikling av norsk ledelseskulturer: Norsk (...)

17But, of course, individuals operated in specific contexts, and these could either help or hinder their efforts. An illuminating example concerns the former GM executive George Kenning, who visited Norway as a consultant during the productivity drive and then stayed on to promote his own brand of management philosophy. For while Kenning eventually became very influential in Norway, his success took time, and to some extent had to wait for the rise of a new generation of managers who had been trained in business rather than engineering.17 Significantly, too, it turned out that ‘Kenningism’ did not travel very well: when the consultant took his ideas to Sweden, he met resistance, provoked a strike, and ultimately failed to win many friends (Byrkeflot).

  • 18 For the role of Bedaux in Europe, see M. Kipping, “Consultancies, Institutions and the Diffusion o (...)
  • 19 Cf. Kipping 1999: 201-7.

18Alongside these individuals were a whole host of different institutions. Consulting firms formed one obvious category, and seem to have been particularly effective in the transfer of incentive payment Systems. Thus, during the inter-war period, the Bedaux Consultancy introduced such arrangements in the major British mail order houses, in order to lower labour costs and – more importantly – enhance managerial control (Coopey and Porter). The companies in this industry used the same consultancy, emulating each other, and such a rippling effect occurred in many other cases.18 Interestingly enough, American consultants appear to have been least active during the productivity drive of the 1950s.19 This is confirmed by developments in Holland, since companies here preferred to employ local consultancies, probably due to historic ties and their familiarity with the specific context (Sluyterman). However, it also emerges that all the consultants were probably rather less effective as knowledge carriers than their own publicity suggested. For example, proponents of scientific management such as Bedaux seem to have contributed little to the introduction of standard costing methods in either Britain or France – despite voluble claims to the contrary (Berland et al.).

  • 20 Cf. D. West, “Multinational Competition in the British Advertising Agency Business, 1936-1987”, Bu (...)

19Advertising agencies formed a second significant cohort, though they have so far received little attention in the relevant literature. The contributors to this volume suggest that they played a particularly important role with respect to the emergence of the consumer society, channelling aspirations and honing tastes. Many US agencies quickly established offices in Europe,20 but they also inspired and trained generations of European executives and creatives – people like Charles Saatchi, who subsequently became independent and – at least temporarily – better known and more successful than his mentors (Obelkevich).

20In most cases, as these examples suggest, intermediaries came from either the US itself or the recipient countries, but there were also more complicated patterns, involving third parties. Aer Lingus employed Dutch designers from KLM together with British advertising agencies (King). Norsk Hydro looked even further afield. Sune Carlsson’s role has already been mentioned, but other international linkages abounded. For example, the company’s first head participated in Harvard’s Advanced Management Programme, and was also involved in the Moral Rearmament Movement; while the way his managers developed their human relations policy was shaped by a research foundation attached to the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen, which in turn had been much influenced by British practitioners.

  • 21 For details see Kipping 1999.
  • 22 Cf. F. Guirao, Spain and the Reconstruction of Western Europe, 1945-1957. Challenge and Response, (...)
  • 23 See also G. Gemelli (ed.), The Ford Foundation and Europe (1950’s-1970’s). Cross-Fertilization of (...)

21Turning to the question of why particular intermediaries became important at certain moments, there is no question that American connections were often of paramount importance. Thus, US multinationals setting up operations in the UK asked their consultants to follow them aboard and at the same time provided introductions to local clients.21 Franco’s Spain provides a further example. The Spanish did not benefit from the Marshall Plan and remained outside the main political and military organisations of Western Europe.22 However, Spain was strategically important, and so received much American corporate investment from the 1950s onwards, together with official and private assistance to build institutions for the transfer of US technological and management know-how – for example, the National Industrial Productivity Committee, a dedicated body of consultants to advise public sector companies, and several new business schools, one of them set up with the help of Harvard (Puig). Over time, such accretions could turn individual countries or cities into bridgeheads for particular kinds of US influence. Brussels, for example, was the central clearinghouse in Europe for anything to do with management education. A foundation had been set up as early as 1920 to organise US-Belgium university exchanges, and after the Second World War, Brussels became a kind of ‘hub’ for the activities of the Ford Foundation in Europe, especially with the creation of the European Institute of Advanced Management Studies (EIASM) in 1965 (Bertrams).23 Interestingly, in both Belgium and Spain, it was catholic networks that were most active in the institution building, seizing an opportunity to modernise in a way which did not ostensibly threaten the political status quo.

  • 24 For a more detailed analysis of external and internal influences in this process see also H. Gamme (...)

22Finally, two qualifications about all intermediaries are pertinent. First, it needs to be acknowledged that most, regardless of appearances, usually had complex motivations. Those who were most vocal about the alleged superiority of the US ideal, for example, frequently also realised that it could allow them opportunities for advancement – a better job, perks, travel, promotion, or greater recognition and power in society as a whole. This is very clearly illustrated by the story of why Norwegian companies adopted the decentralised multi-divisional or M-form. In much of the literature, this innovation is seen as something that followed on from diversification (and internationalisation). But in Norway, the prime driver was competition between different professional groups for the control of their companies, and particularly the growing assertiveness of business school graduates over engineers (Amdam and Sogner).24 In a sense, then, the details of the American solutions sometimes mattered very little, and could be taken up or put down at will. The important point was whether particular ideas were suitable as weapons in a wider struggle.

  • 25 For different assessments of the arguments about relevance, see J. Zeitlin, “Americanization and I (...)
  • 26 For some striking examples of anti-Americanism amongst British industrialists, see Tiratsoo and To (...)

23Second, it must always be remembered that intermediaries were rarely able to pursue their projects with complete freedom, and could in fact face substantial opposition. At the most obvious level, consumers might reject American products completely – witness the several futile attempts to introduce baseball and ‘football’ to Europe. But there were also many more deliberate campaigns to stem the flow of American influence. Left-leaning intellectuals and trade unionists in several countries regularly attacked the excesses of Hollywood, or focused on more specific targets, like the so-called corrupting American comics of the earlyl950s, or the McDonald’s takeaways of the 1990s. Consumer groups, schooled in the social democratic ideals of solidarity, protested at what they saw as the downside of the American dream – amongst other things, and according to taste, a disdain for the poor, built in obsolescence, and a relentless drive to homogenisation. The works of ‘muck-raking’ authors like Jessica Mitford, Ralph Nader and Vance Packard sold in their millions (Hilton). On the other side of the political divide, conservatives worried about American disruption of traditional values. And, needless to say, not all European industrialists were necessarily enthusiastic about the advice that was being proffered. Some disputed that US formulae were apposite for the restricted markets that they operated in.25 Others were far from happy at being told what to do by productivity missionaries who were at the same time often associated directly with their transatlantic competitors. On occasion, and in many different settings, there is no doubt that a frank anti-Americanism flourished and pushed the intermediaries into something of a corner.26

24One interesting example of this is the Italian case, where resistance to the introduction of American advertising methods in the 1950s and 1960s came from the two opposing ends of the social and political spectrum: the Catholic Church and the Communist Party. Their ‘anti-industrial prejudice’ and hostility towards advertising appears to have slowed down, though not stopped, the creation of an US-style consumer society in Italy (Segreto). It also made it difficult for advertising agencies and professionals to establish themselves in the country, at least until the end of the 1960s.

outcomes: negotiating the extent of americanisation

  • 27 For other examples of British intransigence, see N. Tiratsoo and J. Tomlinson, Industrial Efficien (...)

25Given the complexities and constraints that have been touched upon, it is clear that the outcome of the transfer process was never likely to be simple copying of American ways. What occurred, on the contrary, as the contributors to this volume invariably show, was a shifting pattern of negotiations and compromises. This meant that the exact extent of American influence at any one rime varied case by case. At one end of the spectrum, there are clear instances of indifference, verging on outright rejection. In Belgium, where conflict between employers and unions was endemic, the productivity centre consistently opposed US exhortations to include union representatives – even eventually forgoing American funding for this reason (Bertrams). And there is also the case of the British Iron and Steel Federation, which dismissed most of the findings of its productivity mission to the US as “unrealistic”, and proceeded to largely ignore them (Ranieri).27

  • 28 For this concept, see Meyer and Rowan 1977.

26Then there are examples of what has been called ‘de-coupling’28 – where the American message was listened to, and perhaps even praised, usually for political purposes, yet in the end not acted upon. The French woollen industry provides a very good illustration. Its representatives crossed the Atlantic in 1951 and were impressed by American methods. But they also recognised that conditions in their homeland were very different - a poorer quality of raw materials, a smaller domestic market, and a production System based on craftsmanship rather than mass production. When drawing conclusions, therefore, they were careful to commend American practice and endorse the need for the modernisation of technology and management. But it is also true that the actual degree of change on the shopfloor during the following years remained very limited (Daumas).

27However, in the majority of cases, interactions with the US ideas produced more positive outcomes. The typical pattern here was what has been termed selective appropriation. Thus, most European companies adopted at least some of the US management techniques on offer in the post-1945 period, but without jettisoning all of their own indigenous practices. For example, the Spanish pharmaceutical company CEPA eagerly espoused scientific management and created an in-house research department following the US example, yet was content to keep its strategies, promotion policies, and accounting conventions in a form that owed much to the culture of its owner, the industrial and financial group Urquijo (Puig). Similarly, before its takeover by Chrysler, the Spanish firm Barreiros Diesel chose to adopt a combination of Taylorism and US-style human relations, while also persevering with the typical paternalism of a family business (Garcia Ruiz).

28One notable feature of this selection process was that it appears to have been most successful when the European companies took their rime and really thought about the different options. Some Norwegian companies actively searched for new policies and organisational structures for a decade or more, before eventually adopting solutions which seemed to be most appropriate to their circumstances (Amdam and Sogner). French companies behaved in a similar way over decentralisation. The largest gradually moved away from the holding company with a large number of subsidiaries and, by the 1970s, had espoused some of the principles of the M-form. Interestingly, this transformation was probably due less to a direct US influence, and more the establishment of the Common Market, and the growth, international expansion and diversification of the constituent firms (Lanthier).

29Selection and adaptation also occurred in consumption. Thus, while consumers in the UK and, to a lesser extent, in France increasingly bought prepared meals instead of cooking at home, and used supermarkets and suburban shopping centres rather than going to the butcher, baker or dairy shop in their local high Street, it is nevertheless true that food consumption patterns as a whole remained rather distinct between social classes and regions, in clear contrast to the more homogenous situation in the United States (Lescent Giles). Indeed, manufacturers in every consumer goods sector learned the hard way that they invariably needed to shape products according to existing structures of taste, not some transatlantic amalgam. Even American multinationals became increasingly aware that individual markets required tailored solutions (Obelkevich).

30A final example concerns British retail banks in the 1950s and 1960s. From one viewpoint, the story here is of conservatism. For while American banks sought customers of every kind, in part by offering personal loans for the purchase of consumer durables, the British persevered with a longstanding focus on the middle classes, and made little attempt to breakdown working-class preferences for cash. However, a closer look reveals a more complex picture. British banks, it appears, had an unusual willingness to pursue technological innovation. Their interest in credit cards has already been noted. But it is worth pointing out, too, that computerisation of the entire retail banking Systems was achieved much faster in Britain than in the United States – albeit with American equipment (Booth).

31In conclusion, the contributions to this volume confirm the importance of the US as a reference point for European businesses and consumers throughout the Twentieth Century; cast fresh light on the complexity of the ‘Americanisation’ process, which was always more than a simple one-sided transfer or ‘export’ of ideas; and point to the multiplicity of outcomes, ranging from outright rejection to the more usual selective acceptance. Above all, they reinforce the view that ‘Americanisation’ was a social phenomenon, involving real people in specific contexts, whether at company, industry or societal level, and motives that ranged all the way from the idealistic to the venal.

***

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Notes

1 For a summary of the earlier literature, see C. S. Maier, “Introduction: ‘Issue then is Germany and with it Future of Europe’”, in C. S. Maier (ed.), The Marshall Plan and Germany. West German development within the framework of the European Recovery Program, Oxford, Berg, 1991, p. 1-39. A more recent overview is J. Killick, The United States and European Reconstruction, 1945-1960, Edinburgh, Keele University Press, 1997.

2 There was, for example, an extensive debate about the part played by the Marshall Plan in the German ‘economic miracle’; see, for different views, W. Abelshauser, “American Aid and West German Economic Recovery: A Macroeconomic Perspective”, and K. Borchardt and C. Buchheim, “The Marshall Plan and Key Economic Sectors: A Microeconomic Perspective”, in Maier 1991: 367-409 and 410-451. Germany’s crucial role as a customer for many West European countries is analysed in A. S. Milward, The reconstruction of Western Europe 1945-1951, 2nd ed., Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987.

3 E.g. B. Eichengreen and M. Uzan, “The Marshall Plan: Economic Effects and Implications for Eastern Europe and the Former USSR”, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Discussion Paper No. 638, March 1992; B. Eichengreen (ed.), Europe’s post-war recovery, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

4 See, for example, A. B. Carew, Labour under the Marshall plan: the politics of productivity and the marketing of management science, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1987; W. F. Sanford, Jr., The American Business Community and the European Recovery Program 1947-1952, New York, Garland, 1987; J. McGlade, “The Illusion of Consensus: American Business, Cold War Aid and the Reconstruction of Western Europe 1948-1958”, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, George Washington University, 1995; N. Tiratsoo and J. Tomlinson, “Exporting the ‘Gospel of Productivity’: United States Technical Assistance and British Industry 1945-1960”, Business History Review, 71, 1997, p.41-81; and N. Tiratsoo and J. Tomlinson, The Conservatives and Industrial Efficiency, 1951-64. Thirteen wasted years?, London, Routledge/LSE, 1998.

5 For a comprehensive, albeit somewhat partisan overview, see J. Zeitlin, “Introduction”, in J. Zeitlin and G. Herrigel (eds.), Americanization and its Limits, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 1-50. Very recent and forthcoming work includes N. Tiratsoo, “The United States Technical Assistance Programme in Japan”, Business History, 42 (4), 2000, p.117-36; C. Kleinschmidt, Der productive Blick. Wahrnehmung amerikanischer und japanischer Management und Produktionsmethoden durch deutsche Unternehmer 1950-1985, Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 2002; and A. Kudo, M. Kipping and H. Schrӧter (eds.), Transforming the American Model: German and Japanese Industry During the Boom Years, London, Routledge, 2003.

6 E.g. T. Gourvish and N. Tlratsoo (eds.), Missionaries and managers: American influences on European management education, 1945-60, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1998; L. Engwall and V. Zamagni (eds.), Management Education in Historical Perspective, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1998; V. R. Berghahn and P. J. Friedrich, Otto A. Friedrich, ein politischer Unternehmer. Sein Leben und seine Zeit, 1902-1975, Frankfurt/M., Campus, 1993; N. Tiratsoo, “The American Quality Gospel in Britain and Japan, 1950-1970”, in K. Sahun-Andersson and L. Engwall (eds.), The Expansion of Management Knowledge: Carriers, Flows and Sources, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2002; and M. Kipping, “American Management Consulting Companies in Western Europe, 1920 to 1990: Products, Reputation and Relationships”, Business History Review, 73 (2), 1999, p. 190-220.

7 See, from a historical perspective, esp. A. D. Chandler Jr., Scale and Scope. The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, Cambridge, MA, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 1990; and from a broader social science perspective, inter alia, M. F. Guillén, Models of Management. Work, Authority, and Organization in a Comparative Perspective, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1994, and R. Whittington and M. Meyer, The European Corporation. Strategy, Structure and Social Science, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

8 Though for recent attempts at a more genuinely cross-disciplinary approach, see M. Kipping and L. Engwall (eds.), Management Consulting: Emergence and Dynamics of a Knowledge Industry; Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002, and R. P. Amdam, R. Kvalshaugen and E. Larsen (eds.), Inside the Business School: The Content of Management Education, Oslo, Abstrakt Press, 2002.

9 Thus, Works on the development of consumerism, such as V. de Grazia (ed.), The sex of things: gender and consumption in historical perspective, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996, made relatively little impact on business and economic historians. For one highly interesting attempt to combine political, cultural and economic aspects, see R.F. Kuisel, Seducing the Trench. The Dilemma of Americanization, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993.

10 For the term ‘reference society’, see Guillén 1994: 290.

11 For the ambivalent position of French companies and top managers towards American management knowledge and consultants during much of the Twentieth Century see also M. Kipping, “Bridging the Gap ? Consultants and Their Role in France”, in P. Fridenson and T. Yui (eds.), Managerial Enterprise and Organisational Adaptability in France and Japan, London, Routledge, 2002.

12 Cf. M. Kipping, “‘Operation Impact”: Converting European Business Leaders to the American Creed’, in M. Kipping and O. Bjarnar (eds.), The Americanisation of European Business, London, Routledge, 1998, p. 55-73.

13 On the multiplicity of US manufacturing practices, see P. Scranton, Endless novelty. Speciality production and American industrialization, 1865-1925, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1997.

14 On the rationality behind this kind of behaviour, see in general J.W. Meyer and B. Rowan, “Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony”, American journal of Sociology, 83 (2), 1977, p. 340-63; and P.J. DiMaggio and W.W. Powell, “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields”, American Sociological Review, 48 (2), 1983, p. 147-60.

15 On the need to examine both senders and receivers, see O. Bjarnar and M. Kipping, “The Marshall Plan and the Transfer of US Management Models to Europe: An Introductory Framework”, in M. Kipping and O. Bjarnar (eds.), The Americanisation of European Business, London, Routledge, 1998, p. 1-17.

16 Cf. M. Kipping, “Consultancy and Conflicts: Bedaux at Lukens Steel and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company”, Entreprises et Histoire, 25, 2000, p. 9-25.

17 Cf. also R. Kvalshaugen and R.P. Amdam, “Etablering og utvikling av norsk ledelseskulturer: Norsk kenningisme”, Nordiske organisasjonsstudier, 2 (1), 2000, p. 86-106.

18 For the role of Bedaux in Europe, see M. Kipping, “Consultancies, Institutions and the Diffusion of Taylorism in Britain, Germany and France, 1920s to 1950s”, Business History, 39 (4), 1997, p. 67-83.

19 Cf. Kipping 1999: 201-7.

20 Cf. D. West, “Multinational Competition in the British Advertising Agency Business, 1936-1987”, Business History Review, 62, 1988, p. 467-501.

21 For details see Kipping 1999.

22 Cf. F. Guirao, Spain and the Reconstruction of Western Europe, 1945-1957. Challenge and Response, London, Macmillan, 1998.

23 See also G. Gemelli (ed.), The Ford Foundation and Europe (1950’s-1970’s). Cross-Fertilization of Learning in Social Science and Management, Brussels, European Interuniversity Press, 1998.

24 For a more detailed analysis of external and internal influences in this process see also H. Gammelsaeter, ‘Managers and Consultants as Embedded Actors: Evidence from Norway’, in Kipping and Engwall 2002: 222-237.

25 For different assessments of the arguments about relevance, see J. Zeitlin, “Americanization and Its Limits: Theory and Practice in the Reconstruction of Britain’s Engineering Industries, 1945-55”, Business and Economie History, 24 (1), 1995, p. 277-86, and J. Tomlinson and N. Tiratsoo, “Americanisation Beyond the Mass Production Paradigm: The Case of British Industry”, in M. Kipping and O. Bjarnar (eds.), The Americanisation of European Business, London, Routledge, 1998, p. 115-32.

26 For some striking examples of anti-Americanism amongst British industrialists, see Tiratsoo and Tomlinson 1998: 95-6. For the phenomenon in general, see, inter alia, P. M.R. Stirk, “Americanism and Anti-Americanism in British and German responses to the Marshall Plan”, in P.M.R. Stirk and D. Willis (eds.), Shoping Postwar Europe. European Unity and Disunity, 1945-1957, London, Pinter 1991; various contributions in R. Pommerin (ed.), The American Impact on Postwar Germany, Oxford, Berghahn Books, 1995; and R. Pells, Not Like Us. How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture Since World War II, New York, Basic Books, 1997.

27 For other examples of British intransigence, see N. Tiratsoo and J. Tomlinson, Industrial Efficiency and State Intervention: Labour 1939-51, London, Routledge/LSE, 1993; Kipping 1998; and Tiratsoo and Tomlinson 1998.

28 For this concept, see Meyer and Rowan 1977.

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