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Home > Catalog > Louis D. Brandeis and the Making of Regulated Competition, 1900–1932
Louis D. Brandeis and the Making of Regulated Competition, 1900–1932


  • Page extent: 296 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 343.73/0721
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: KF1609 .B47 2009
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Brandeis, Louis Dembitz,--1856-1941
    • Trade regulation--United States--History--20th century
    • Antitrust law--United States--History--20th century

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521425964)

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$119.00 (C)

This book provides an innovative interpretation of industrialization and statebuilding in the United States. Whereas most scholars cast the politics of industrialization in the progressive era as a narrow choice between breaking up and regulating the large corporation, Berk reveals a third way: regulated competition. In this framework, the government steered economic development away from concentrated power by channeling competition from predation to improvements in products and production processes. Louis Brandeis conceptualized regulated competition and introduced it into public debate. Political entrepreneurs in Congress enacted many of Brandeis’s proposals into law. The Federal Trade Commission enlisted business and professional associations to make it workable. The commercial printing industry showed how it could succeed. And 30 percent of manufacturing industries used it to improve economic performance. In order to make sense of regulated competition, Berk provides a new theory of institutions he calls “creative syncretism,” which stresses the recombinability of institutional parts and the creativity of actors.


1. Creative syncretism; Part I. Brandies and the Theory of Regulated Competition: 2. Republican experimentalism and regulated competition; 3. Learning from railroad regulation; 4. The origins of an ambiguous Federal Trade Commission; Part II. Regulated Competition in Practice: 5. Cultivational governance at the Federal Trade Commission; 6. Deliberative polyarchy and developmental associations; 7. From collective action to collaborative learning: developmental association in commercial printing; Part III. Regulated Competition Contested: 8. The politics of accountability; Part IV. Conclusion: 9. Civic enterprise; Appendix A. Industries and number of associations with at least substantial involvement in developmental association, by industry group.


“Berk’s nuanced study of Brandeis is about the rejection of preordained categories and rigid formulas, by extraordinary policymakers and also by social scientists who seek to understand them. Ultimately, it is about the limitless possibility of politics to reorder familiar arrangements of state and economy in the interests of a differently-conceived world. Its publication could hardly be more timely.”
-Karen Orren, University of California, Los Angeles

“A masterpiece of counter-factual reasoning, this book challenges the orthodoxy that markets and regulation are incompatible alternatives. Berk shows how Louis Brandeis’ theory of ‘regulated competition’ offered the principles for a very different kind of relationship between government and economy that could have changed the course of the twentieth-century. At the juncture at which America was transforming from a market economy and a laissez-faire state to a corporate economy and a regulative state, Berk’s compelling historical analysis shows that the path could have been different. This is institutional history at its best.”
-William Roy, University of California, Los Angeles

“Berk recovers for us an improbably prescient Brandeis: an advocate and institutional architect who helps demonstrate the feasibility of a market order of ‘regulated competition’ that avoids the traditional, limited choice between antipathy to all business cooperation or regulated monopoly and, instead, encourages innovation while reducing the dangers of concentration (and we might hope today—the viral diffusion of catastrophic behaviors) through a Federally sponsored exchange of best practices and cost benchmarks within and across industry groups. This is history the way and when we need it.”
-Charles Sabel, Columbia Law School

Civic Enterprise raises to a new level the distinctive strength of Gerry Berk’s work: his capacity to radically alter our understanding of classic issues and episodes in American political development on the basis of new and original historical research inspired by current theoretical and comparative debates, while recasting and enriching the categories of those debates themselves in light of his empirical findings. This book is thus likely to attract a wide interdisciplinary audience and consolidate Berk’s reputation as one of the premier scholars of American political development of his generation.”
-Jonathan Zeitlin, University of Wisconsin

"Berk's book is very valuable for social scientists and historians of American political economy. First, it successfully challenges conventional wisdom that institutional, political, and mental straightjackets made both the FTC and 1920s business associations rather insignificant...Berk also deserves credit for bringing us a different interpretation of Brandeis as an engaged and thoughtful reformer who anticipated the challenges of reconciling modern capitalism, prosperity, and republican ideals."
The Law and Politics Book Review, David Brian Robertson, University of Missouri- St. Louis

"...Berk has produced a solid study that advances our understanding of Brandeis and the complexity and diversity of political and business choices the United States confronted in the first third of the last century." -William M. McClenahan Jr., EH.Net

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