Model Employers and Good Government in the Late 19th and Late 20th Centuries

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Abstract

This study compares models of the good employer in the late 19th and late 20th centuries, using a content analysis of leading business periodicals. We find striking differences between the two eras, both in their recipes for more efficient employment practices and in their understanding of the benefits of those practices. We consider possible explanations for these divergent conceptions of “rational” labor relations and argue that each period's image of the exemplary employer corresponds to prevailing ideals of political reform.

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