Big Business

Big Business

Big Business or big business is a term used to describe large corporations, in either an individual or collective sense. The term first came into use in a symbolic sense subsequent to the American Civil War, particularly after 1880, in connection with the combination movement that began in American business at that time.
Organizations that fall into the category of "big business" include ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Google, Microsoft,General Motors, Citigroup and Arcelor Mittal.Fact|date=September 2008

History, Post World Wars

The relatively stable period of rebuilding after World War II led to new technologies (some of which were spin-offs from the war years) and new businesses.


The new technology of computers spread worldwide in the post war years. Businesses built around computer technology include: IBM, Microsoft (Bill Gates), Intel (Gordon E. Moore and Robert Noyce).


Miniaturization and integrated circuits, together with an expansion of radio and television technologies provided fertile ground for business development. Electronics businesses include: JVC, Sony (Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita), Texas Instruments (Cecil H. Green, J. Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott, and Patrick E. Haggerty).


Nuclear power add to fossil fuel as the main sources of energy.

Criticism of big business

The social consequences of the concentration of economic power in the hands of those persons controlling "Big Business" has been a constant concern both of economists and of politicians since the end of the 19th century. Various attempts have been made to investigate the effects of "bigness" upon labor, consumers and investors, as well as upon prices and competition. "Big Business" has been accused of a wide variety of misdeeds that range from the exploitation of the working class to the corruption of politicians and the fomenting of war.

Influence over government

Corporate concentration can lead to influence over government in areas such as tax policy, trade policy, environmental policy, foreign policy, and labour policy through lobbying. In 2005 the majority of Americans believed that big business had "too much power in Washington". [citation
author=Timothy P. Carney
title=Big Business and Big Government

Whatever goes on behind closed doors between the CEOs and the senators can't be good or the doors would not be closed.

Human rights and working conditions

German industry collaborated with their Nazi government during the Third Reich, thus exploiting the working class in the interest of productivity and efficiency. [citation
newspaper=Le Monde
title=Volkswagen's history of forced labour
author=Frederic F Clairmont

Hitler's order offered German capitalists, badly hit by the great recession, the prospects of huge profits. German workers did, admittedly, enjoy full employment, but, as William Schirer has said, this was at the cost of being reduced to serfdom and poverty wages. It was not long before these conditions became the lot of the whole of occupied Europe.

Benefits of big business

It has been generally admitted that much of the technological progress since 1850 has been dependent on and fostered by the growth in size and the increase in financial strength of individual business units.

During the rise of big business in the late nineteenth century, long run factors contributing the consolidation of businesses included technological changes and reductions in transportation costs. Cheaper transport costs made it feasible to produce in one location and then ship the product to market, instead of producing where the market was located. Technological changes made plant sizes more efficient in regards to capital-intensive assembly lines.

The rise of railroads contributed to decrease transportation costs during the 1800s. To expand, the railroad companies required large pools of capital to finance infrastructure development and daily operations. However, the government did not have the budget to provide financing, due to the depression in the 1830s and 1840s. As a result, the railroad firms turned to private investors and investment banks to raise capital.

ee also

*Big Oil
*Big government
*Big labor
*Small Business


This article is originally based on material from "Dictionary of American History" by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940

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