The Charismatic Corporation: Finance, Administration, and Shop Floor Management under Henry Ford


After assuming sole ownership of the Ford Motor Company in 1919, Henry Ford transformed his business into a mission-driven organization that prioritized improvements in production and engineering over investment returns. At the same time, the company programmatically rejected bureaucratic management in favor of informal procedures and ingrained collective protocols, both in administration and on the shop floor. This article references Max Weber's view of “charismatic” authority to explain the company’s organizational structure, its culture, its ambivalence toward Henry Ford’s worst tendencies and prejudices, and its resilience during the decline of his leadership in the 1930s and 1940s.