A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester Company

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From Publishers Weekly:

Cyrus McCormick's invention of the reaper revolutionized farming in North America and western Europe in the 19th century and the McCormick Harvesting Company's marketing of agricultural machinery made it one of the richest firms in America. But, as the company continued to grow and diversify in the 20th century, problems began to emerge: management tended to be rigid and inept in cutting costs; after a background of enmity toward labor, the company did an about-face and signed contracts that granted union workers extremely costly benefits; executives failed to forecast how the cyclical nature of the agricultural machine business might affect sales; the firm became overextended with debts. In the early 1980s, a combination of a recession, surplus farm commodities and a strong U.S. dollar brought disaster. Harvester barely escaped bankruptcy, and now a smaller, leaner, reorganized company is attempting a comeback. Marsh has done a fine job of telling this story, one of great interest beyond the business community. November 8
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

This is the story of the rise and fall of International Harvester, from 1831, when Cyrus McCormick patented his reaper, to 1985, by which time Harvest er was only in the truck and engine business. The last 10 to 15 years are highlighted, but enough earlier history is given so that the reader can under stand the mistakes that led to the virtual collapse of one of America's largest manufacturers. International's failure was caused by a multitude of factors. Marsh documents these well but pays special attention to how both Harvest er's consultants and the new manage ment misread the cultural and historical relationships within the company. Marsh's book is well-researched and as readable as a novel. Highly recom mended for all business collections. Michael D. Kathman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Collegeville, Minn.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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