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Abstract

[Excerpt] Historically, the great majority of businesses in this industry have been small, and locally (often family) owned. Sometimes a skilled machinist leaves one firm to set up a new one, with a small bank loan and help from family savings. Some of these locally-owned companies are incorporated, for tax purposes, but the mode of management is essentially the same: personal (even paternalistic) and usually relatively informal.

All across the United States, during the late 1960s, there was a wave of conglomerate acquisitions of precisely the most successful of these previously independent or small corporate operations. Giants like Gulf+Western, Textron, Genesco, Litton and a hundred others sent buyers into areas like New England and made offers that those small business owners could not refuse. Every sector of the economy was affected: not only metalworking, but also apparel, shoes, department stores, hotels. In the years following the acquisition, a definite pattern emerged.

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