Narrating the Rise of Big Business in the USA: How economists explain standard oil and Wal-Mart, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Narrating the Rise of Big Business in the USA

How economists explain standard oil and Wal-Mart, 1st Edition

By Anne Mayhew


184 pages

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"This is a story about stories and specifically about some of the stories that Americans have told themselves about corporate economic power." In this book, Anne Mayhew focuses on the stories surrounding the creation of Standard Oil and Wal-Mart and their founders , John D. Rockefeller and Sam Walton, combining the accounts of economists with the somewhat darker pictures painted by writers of fiction to tease out the overarching narratives associated with American big business.

Mayhew argues that the diverse views about big business and its effects of welfare can be reconciled and better policies derived from a somewhat unlikely combination of ideas from the business world and from those who have dissented from the most widely accepted story told by economists. This book draws on the work of Chandler, Coase and Williamson, as well as Marx and Veblen’s discussion of supply chains to address some of the major social and economics problems of the twenty-first century.


"This is a very interesting book. … Despite the cost, libraries would be well advised to acquire this book, which is accessible to the proverbial advanced undergraduate yet has much to offer specialists. Highly recommended." -- CHOICE (April 2009, vol. 46); M. Perelman, California State University.

Table of Contents

Contents, Chapter One: Introduction, Chapter Two: The Agreed Upon Stories, Chapter Three: Popular Accounts and Wider Contexts, Chapter Four: Economists, Trusts and Big Business, Chapter Five: Alternative Stories, Chapter Six: Supply Chains and Mà Cà C’à M’, Chapter Seven: Toward Relevance.

About the Author

Anne Mayhew is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA.

About the Series

Routledge International Studies in Business History

Recent years have seen an explosion of research in business history. Business history is now seen variously as a key to understanding a vital aspect of the past, a source of parallels and insights into modern business practice, and a way of understanding the evolution of modern business practice. This series is not limited to any single approach, and explores a wide range of issues and industries.

Authors wishing to submit proposals for publication consideration in the Routledge International Studies in Business History series can contact series editors Jeffrey Fear ( and Christina Lubinski (

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