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Chapter 4 Discussion Questions

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During the Great Depression, the style and image of cars experienced a change most significantly with the introduction of “streamlining”. How did the prevailing sentiment of the time promote this change? Why were these changes incremental as opposed to radical?

The emergence of labor unions in all industries which employed low wage workers made a significant impact on the auto industry. How did their increased prominence affect the management tactics of the Big Three auto manufacturers in the U.S. at this time? How did these unions affect the working conditions and wages of workers in this industry?

During World War II, the United States was committed to the war effort and the automobile industry “responded in the most impressive fashion”. Although there was a decrease in the amount of automobiles produced, how did the automobile industry contribute to the country’s success in World War II?


  1. siegels18

    I was the coauthor of this post

    May 3, 2016
  2. Thanks.

    As per class, unions arose with the collapse of Welfare Capitalism and the prevalence of really nasty plant-level conditions, physical and personal. Ford’s reliance on thugs to repress labor activists was extreme but not unique. Only with the rise of unions did firms implement systematic human resources practices in place of arbitrary foreman- and plant manager-level behavior. In 1930 the Detroit Three did not have personnel departments. See Jacoby, Sanford M. Employing Bureaucracy. Columbia University Press, 1985.

    May 7, 2016

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