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Statistical portraits of American business elites: a review essay


  • Walter Friedman
  • Richard Tedlow


Since the early twentieth century, scholars have conducted statistical studies of groups of business leaders. These have often been extensive undertakings, calling for the collection of large quantities of information about business executives through the use of surveys, personal interviews, dictionaries, obituaries and biographies. The scholars who have carried out these studies have come from a range of disciplines, including sociology, history and economics. The questions they have asked have varied over time. Some have sought to uncover common characteristics among the executives themselves. Others have studied groups of businessmen in order to learn about society (especially the extent of social mobility), or about particular industries and the people who ran them. While the variety of approaches has led some to conclude that these studies present no coherent picture, this article shows an underlying pattern in these efforts and suggests a framework for future study.

Suggested Citation

  • Walter Friedman & Richard Tedlow, 2003. "Statistical portraits of American business elites: a review essay," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(4), pages 89-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:45:y:2003:i:4:p:89-113 DOI: 10.1080/00076790312331270239

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Engwall, L. & Wallenstål, M., 1988. "Tit for tat in small steps: the internationalization of Swedish banks," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 4(3-4), pages 147-155.
    3. Kindleberger, Charles P., 1983. "International banks as leaders or followers of international business : An historical perspective," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 583-595, December.
    4. Ball, Clifford A. & Tschoegl, Adrian E., 1982. "The Decision to Establish a Foreign Bank Branch or Subsidiary: An Application of Binary Classification Procedures," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(03), pages 411-424, September.
    5. Heinkel, Robert L. & Levi, Maurice D., 1992. "The structure of international banking," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 251-272, June.
    6. Edward Brown Flowers, 1976. "Oligopolistic Reactions in European and Canadian Direct Investment in the United States," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 7(2), pages 43-56, June.
    7. Chwo-Ming J Yu & Kiyohiko Ito, 1988. "Oligopolistic Reaction and Foreign Direct Investment: The Case of the U.S. Tire and Textiles Industries," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 19(3), pages 449-460, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pier Angelo Toninelli & Michelangelo Vasta, 2014. "Opening the black box of entrepreneurship: The Italian case in a historical perspective," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(2), pages 161-186, March.

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