Miller Center

Colloquium - State Building - American Style

Louis Galambos
September 14, 2007
12:30PM - 12:30PM (EDT)

Louis Galambos
Louis Galambos

Louis Galambos, Professor of History, The Johns Hopkins University

Little governed by a political system with minimal capabilities, Americans entrusted the redesign of their governments largely to the legal professionals who populated the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of their federated system. Lawyers also played important roles in many of the organizations calling for or resisting change. As the pressure mounted to ensure greater equity and security to particular groups of citizens, lawyers brokered the compromises that gave the nation a many-headed regulatory state, a primitive welfare state, and a more vigorous promotional state. These innovations provided many Americans with their first experiences with public bureaucracy. The state-crafters sometimes enhanced the voters' democratic authority but increasingly they veered toward elite, professional authority as they worked their way through a long series of deeply contested, specific issues. The result was a messy, thoroughly American array of agencies, programs, and policies that defied a single characterization. But how could it have been otherwise at a time when Americans were asking for new government services while proclaiming their continued faith in individual, not governmental action.

Louis Galambos is Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University and specializes in United States economic, business, and political history. His current research interest is the process of innovation in public and private organizations. A few of his recent publications include The Moral Corporation and Medicine, Science, and Merck (both co-authored with P. Roy Vagelos); “Innovation and Industry Evolution: A Comment” in Knowledge Accumulation and Industry Evolution: The Case of Pharma-Biotech; “The Monopoly Enigma, the Reagan Administration’s Antitrust Experiment, and the Global Economy” in Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture; and “Recasting the Organizational Synthesis: Structure and Process in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries” in Business History Review (Spring 2005).

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