Term Paper: Comparative and Contrasting Study of Two International Entrepreneurs Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler

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¶ … International Entrepreneurs: Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler

Today, given their impact on the generations that followed, it is reasonable to suggest that two of the most influential individuals of the 20th century were Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler. While they were clearly at diametrically opposite ends of the morality pole, Ford and Hitler both nevertheless managed to epitomize their respective types of entrepreneurialism according to their unique time and place in history. In this regard, Baldwin (2001), reports that, "If a person were summoned from the waiting room into Hitler's private office, he would be somewhat taken aback to see hanging on the wall beside the massive desk a large portrait of Henry Ford -- Why here? And why now, ten years before Hitler assumed the chancellorship" (p. 173). To explain the appearance of Ford's picture in Hitler's office requires an examination of the personal and ideological similarities and differences between these two men, as well as principal entrepreneurial concepts that shared in common. To this end, this study provides a critical analysis of the peer-reviewed and scholarly literature to provide brief biographical backgrounds for these two individuals and to develop the background needed to determine how important international scenarios can serve to influence entrepreneurship in different countries. Following this critical review of the relevant literature, a summary of the research will be provided in the conclusion and a personal reflective statement concerning what was learned from this experience.

Section One. Brief Biographical Backgrounds.

Henry Ford. Remembered primarily as the "Father of the Model T" and an innovator with assembly line technologies, Henry Ford remains a popular figure in American history today. According to a biographer, Ford was an American industrialist and pioneer automobile manufacturer who was born in Dearborn, Michigan in 1863, retired in 1945, and died in 1947 (Ford, 2007). Ford was not content with life on his father's farm and after demonstrating significant mechanical aptitude, he left home in 1879 to work as an apprentice in a Detroit machine shop for a short time; after he returned home for a period, he began experimenting with power-driven vehicles and returned to Detroit in 1890 to work as a machinist and engineer with the Edison Company (Ford, 2007). In this regard, a biographer reports that, "Ford continued working in his spare time as well, and in 1896 he completed his first automobile. Resigning (1899) from the Edison Company he launched the Detroit Automobile Company" (Ford, 2007 p. 2).

Despite Ford's efforts to keep the United States out of World War I, he knew an opportunity to make money when he saw it his company became a leading manufacturer of vehicles used in the war effort, a pattern that he followed during World War II as well (Ford, 2007). In addition, Ford also waged an unsuccessful U.S. senatorial campaign as a Democratic candidate (Ford, 2007). Following a major economic downturn in 1921, Ford's company began manufacturing higher-priced automobiles together with other types of vehicles and established branches in England and in other European countries, including, as discussed further below, Germany (Ford, 2007). Besides his charitable organization, the Ford Foundation, Ford's other philanthropies included $7.5 million for the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and $5 million for a museum in Dearborn, where in 1933 he established Greenfield Village, a reproduction of an early American village (Ford, 2007). In collaboration with Samuel Crowther, Ford also wrote several books, including My Life and Work (1923), Today and Tomorrow (1926), Moving Forward (1931), and Edison as I Knew Him (1930) (Ford, 2007).

Adolf Hitler. Historians report that Hitler was born in Braunau in Upper Austria in 1889 and is alleged to have killed himself in the Fuehrer bunker with his new bridge, Eva Braun, in 1945; he was the founder and leader of National Socialism (Nazism) party and the German dictator in the years leading up to and during World War II (Hitler, 2007). According to one of Hitler's numerous biographers:

Adolf Hitler was born at half past six on the evening of 20 April 1889, in... An inn in the small town of Braunau on the River Inn which forms the frontier between Austria and Bavaria. The Europe into which he was born and which he was to destroy gave an unusual impression of stability and permanence at the time of his birth. The Hapsburg Empire, of which his father was a minor official, had survived the storms of the 1860s, the loss of the Italian provinces, defeat by Prussia, even the transformation of the old Empire into the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Hapsburgs, the oldest of the great ruling houses, who had outlived the Turks, the French Revolution, and Napoleon, were a visible guarantee of continuity. The Emperor Franz Joseph had already celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his accession, and had still more than a quarter of a century left to reign. (Bulluck, 1962 p. 23)

The Europe that emerged during Hitler's early adulthood after World War I though, was quite a different matter. Indeed, German citizens during this period in world history were experiencing the enormous economic burdens of reparations payments to the victors of World War I, and their economy and political structure were shaky at best and on the brink of collapse (Hitler, 2007). Furthermore, there were numerous internal and external threats to this post-World War I Germany, and Hitler emerged as from the pack the "man of the hour" who possessed the vision and charisma needed to lead the German people out of this shameful morass into a global leadership position with his "thousand-year Reich" (Hitler, 2007).

From an entrepreneurial perspective, then, Hitler obviously possessed the inherent ability to know what people wanted to hear, and had been mentored on how best to project these messages to his eager listeners; moreover, even when he lost during these early years, he managed to turn adversity into opportunity by continually manipulating others to his will. In this regard, following his acquisition of German citizenship through the state of Brunswick, Hitler became a candidate in the presidential elections of 1932, but lost to the more popular war hero, Paul von Hindenburg; however, even here, Hitler managed to strengthen his position by falsely promising to support Chancellor Franz von Papen who subsequently lifted the ban on the outlawed storm trooper in June 1932 (Hitler, 2007). Following the elections of the Nazis as the largest party in the Reichstag in July, 1932, the president offered Hitler a lesser position as a chancellor in his cabinet but Hitler wanted more power than this position provided and refused; the chancellorship went another candidate that resigned on January 28, 1933 and, "Amid collapsing parliamentary government and pitched battles between Nazis and Communists, Hindenburg, on the urging of von Papen, called Hitler to be chancellor of a coalition cabinet, refusing him extraordinary powers. Supported by Alfred Hugenberg, Hitler took office on January 30 [1932]" (Hitler, 2007 p. 3).

In their book, History of the Holocaust, Edelheit and Edelheit (1994) report that the Nazi political victory was just what Hitler's followers had been waiting for, and this event represented a clear demarcation between what had been and what was going to be. According to these authors, "With the Nazi victory came an almost immediate effort to recast Germany in the framework of Hitler's ideology. Initially, street battles with the Communists continued. Now, however, that the police openly supported the rightist elements, the Nazis rapidly won control of the streets. On the night of February 27-28, 1933, a mysterious fire in the Reichstag gave Hitler a further opportunity to extend his control over all of Germany" (p. 32). Although the fire was blamed on the Communists, these historians emphasize that it has since become clear that the Nazis intentionally staged the fire; in fact, the Reichstag fire provided the Nazis with the justification they needed to ban the Communist party in Germay altogether and to severely restrict the activities of other like-minded organizations (Edelheit & Edelheit, 1994).

On March 20, 1933, the first official concentration camp was opened at Dachau with a capacity of 5,000 inmates; over time, more concentration camps were added to this system and estimates indicate that, by July 31, 1933, the Nazi system already contained appropriately 30,000 inmates (Edelheit & Edelheit, 1994). When the Reichstag convened again on March 23, 1933, Hitler demanded that they approve his use of the "Enabling Law" (Erm chtigungsgesetz), which was approved. According to these authors, the impact of this decree was that the Reichstag was, "in effect abdicating its constitutional powers and providing Hitler and the Nazis with virtually unlimited powers; his prediction that he could use the Weimar constitution to subvert democracy had indeed come true" (Edelheit & Edelheit, 1994).

Section Two: Critical Analysis of Entrepreneurial Characteristics, Behavior and Competencies.

Henry Ford. There were some early connections between Ford and Nazi Germany that appear to have being influential in how Ford managed his entire business. At the beginning of 1937, the board of directors of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Comparative and Contrasting Study of Two International Entrepreneurs Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler.  (2007, April 9).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/comparative-contrasting-study-two-international/61795

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"Comparative and Contrasting Study of Two International Entrepreneurs Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler."  Essaytown.com.  April 9, 2007.  Accessed May 20, 2019.