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Military Enterprise & Technological Change: Perspectives on the American Experience cover
  • ISBN: 9780262192392
  • ISBN10: 026219239X

Military Enterprise & Technological Change: Perspectives on the American Experience

by Smith, Merritt R.

  • List Price: $65.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/2006
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Building "star wars" weapons systems, so the opposing arguments run, will either conscript technological development and divert it from the civilian economy-or it will further spur "high" technology innovations that will benefit everyone.

Either way, this is only the most recent example of the complex military-industrial conflict/symbiosis that has spanned American history, but that has not been subjected to thorough study and debate until recent years. In this book, historians of technology bring their special expertise to probing the influence of the military on technological development over a broad range of history and in a variety of cases.

Bracketed by Merritt Roe Smith's overview and Alex Roland's bibliographic review, the case studies explore the relationship between Army ordnance and the development of the "American system" of manufacturing; the Army Corp of Engineers and the origin of modern management in the course of the expansion of the railroads; the Navy's adoption of the radio; Henry Ford's attempt to apply his mass-production methods to military ends in the building of the Eagle Boat; the Army's first large-scale employment of social scientists during World War II and their role in shaping the postwar research agenda; the Army Signal Corp's entrepreneurial role in the development of the transistor; the Navy's far-flung and well-funded postwar research and development program; and the social implications of military and "scientific" management styles, in particular the efforts to militarize management practices in the civilian sector.

The case studies are the work of David K. Allison, Peter Buck, Susan J. Douglas, David A. Hounshell,Thomas J. Misa, David F. Noble, Charles F. O'Connell, Jr., and the editor, Merritt Roe Smith, who is Professor of The History of Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.
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