Alfred P. Sloan

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Alfred P. Sloan. 1937

Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr. (May 23, 1875 – February 17, 1966) was an American business executive in the automotive industry. He was a long-time President, chairman and CEO of General Motors Corporation.

Sloan, first as a senior executive and later as the head of the organization, helped General Motors grow from the 1920s through the 1950s, decades when concepts such as the annual model change, brand architecture, industrial design, automotive design (styling), and planned obsolescence transformed the industry, and when the industry changed lifestyles and the built environment in America and throughout the world.

Quotes[edit]

1920s - 1930s
  • I never give orders. I sell my ideas to my associates if I can. I accept their judgment if they convince me, as they frequently do, that I am wrong. I prefer to appeal to the intelligence of a man rather than attempt to exercise authority over him.
    • Alfred P. Sloan in: Industrial Digest and Commidities and Finance, (1925), Vol. 4. p. 16
  • Get the facts. Recognize the equities of all concerned. Realize the necessity of doing a better job every day. Keep an open mind and work hard. The last is most important at all. There is no short cut.
    • Alfred P. Sloan in: The Magazine of Wall Street, (1927), Vol. 41, p. 480
  • Take my assets — but leave me my organization and in five years I'll have it all back.
    • Alfred P. Sloan in the 1920s, cited in: Thomas S. Bateman, ‎Scott Snell (1999), Management: building competitive advantage. p. 276
Cover of Time magazine (December 27, 1926)
  • Having been connected with industry during my entire life, it seems eminently proper that I should turn back, in part, the proceeds of that activity with the hope of promoting a broader as well as a better understanding of the economic principles and national policies which have characterized American enterprise down through the years.
1940s - 1960s
  • It looks as if the war in Europe is rapidly moving towards a conclusion. Probably I am wrong about that but I can't see how it can be otherwise. It seems clear that the Allies are outclassed on mechanical equipment, and it is foolish to talk about modernizing their Armies in times like these, they ought to have thought of that five years ago. There is no excuse for them not thinking of that except for the unintelligent, in fact, stupid, narrow-minded and selfish leadership which the democracies of the world are cursed with.
It is all very well as everybody is in the same position, but when some other system develops stronger leadership, works hard and long, and intelligently and aggressively—which are good traits—and, superimposed upon that, develops the instinct of a racketeer, there is nothing for the democracies to do but fold up. And that is about what it looks as if they are going to do.
  • Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (June 1940) cited in: David Farber (2003). Sloan Rules: Alfred P. Sloan and the Triumph of General Motors. p. 225
  • There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different.
    • Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (1941), cited in: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, "Mission Statement," at sloan.org, 2016.
  • Some have an idea that the reason we in this country discard things so readily is because we have so much. The facts are exactly opposite-the reason we have so much is simply because we discard things so readily. We replace the old in return for something that will serve us better.
    • Alfred P. Sloan, in: General Motors, News and Views. (1945), p. 1;
  • Only in more production and in new production can the American standard of living be increased and the economy be sound.
    • Alfred P. Sloan, quoted in: Forbes, Forbes Incorporated, (1959), p. 54
Attributed from posthumous publications
  • Bedside manners are no substitute for the right diagnosis.
    • Alfred P. Sloan, quoted in: The Almanac of Quotable Quotes from 1990. (1991), p. 103
  • The greatest real thrill that life offers is to create, to construct, to develop something useful. Too often we fail to recognize and pay tribute to the creative spirit. It is that spirit that creates our jobs. There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different.
    • Alfred P. Sloan. quoted in: John Bourne (2000), Learning Effectiveness and Faculty Satisfaction. p. 11
  • Gentlemen, I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here. Then, I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until the next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement, and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about.

Alfred P. Sloan in The Turning Wheel, 1934[edit]

Alfred P. Sloan in: Arthur Pound. The Turning Wheel; the story of General Motors through twenty-five years, 1908-1933, (1934),

  • In the spring of 1920, General Motors found itself, as it appeared at the moment, in a good position. On account of the limitation of automotive production during the war there was a great shortage of cars. Every car that could be produced was produced and could be sold at almost any price. So far as any one could see, there was no reason why that prosperity should not continue for a time at least. I liken our position then to a big ship in the ocean. We were sailing along at full speed, the sun was shining, and there was no cloud in the sky that would indicate an approaching storm. Many of you have, of course, crossed the ocean and you can visualize just that sort of a picture yet what happened? In September of that year, almost over night, values commenced to fall. The liquidation from the inflated prices resulting from the war had set in. Practically all schedules or a large part of them were cancelled. Inventory commenced to roll in, and, before it was realized what was happening, this great ship of ours was in the midst of a terrific storm. As a matter of fact, before control could be obtained General Motors found itself in a position of having to go to its bankers for loans aggregating $80,000,000 and although, as we look at things from today's standpoint, that isn't such a very large amount of money, yet when you must have $80,000,000 and haven't got it, it becomes an enormous sum of money, and if we had not had the confidence and support of the strongest banking interests our ship could never have weathered the storm.
    • p. 185-6; Retrospective vein President Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., addressing the automobile editors of American newspapers at the Proving Ground at Milford, Michigan in 1927.
  • The industry has not grown much during the past three or four years. It is practically stabilized at the present [1927]. What has taken place is a shift from one manufacturer to another.
    • p. 210. Sloan in his Proving Ground address in 1927 to automobile editors, in discussing the so-called saturation point.
  • You of course appreciate that this industry of ours the automotive industry is today the greatest in the world. Three or four years ago it passed, in volume, steel and steel products, the next largest industry. This means, expressed otherwise, that upon its prosperity depends the prosperity of many millions of our citizens and the degree to which it has become stabilized in turn has a tremendous influence on the stabilization of industry as a whole, and therefore on the prosperity and happiness of still many more of our citizens. Directly and indirectly, this industry distributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to those who are connected with it, in one way or another, as workers. It also distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in the aggregate to those who have invested in its securities. The purchasing power of this total aggregation, as you must appreciate, is tremendous.
I believe that if you questioned many of your readers as to the present position of the automotive industry, they would tell you that it is growing by leaps and bounds. I believe further you would sense uncertainty as to what is going to happen in the industry when the so-called state of saturation is reached. I do not know whether you appreciate it or not, but the industry has not grown very much during the past three or four years. It is practically stabilized at the present time.
  • p. 331-2: Speech by President Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., delivered to representatives of the automotive press at the Proving Ground on September 28, 1927.
  • What has taken place is a shift of business from one manufacturer to another, and the announcements in the press as well as the general publicity of those manufacturers who have succeeded in increasing their business give, I think, the impression that this is true of the whole industry. If we could assume, for the sake of argument, that we will reach the point at which twenty-five million cars and trucks will be registered in the United States an assumption that from what we have accomplished so far is certainly perfectly reasonable then I think we could safely say that the replacement demand, plus the export demand which will increase for many years yet, plus the normal growth, would amount to something like four to four and one half million vehicles a year and would require the manufacture of a number of cars equal to or greater than has yet been produced in any year in the history of the industry...
I am sure that I do not need to elaborate what the automotive industry consists of, its influence on the prosperity of the United States, the influence that it has had in many other industries which contribute to its production necessities. General Motors is an important part of this great industry of ours and as my contribution to your visit with us I would like to tell you in a brief way something about General Motors ; how we are thinking, what we are doing, and our ambitions for the future.
  • p. 332-3: Speech by President Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., 1927 (II)
  • Let me deal here with what General Motors includes and with the responsibility that rests on its management.
First. We have approximately 60,000 stockholders. The market value of the securities that these stockholders hold at the present time exceeds $2,000,000,000 a very tidy sum. This enormous sum and the responsibility of acting as trustees throws a very great responsibility on General Motors' organization. In 1926 these stockholders received, in dividend disbursement, an amount in excess of $100,000,000. The purchasing power of this $100,000,000 has an important influence on our general business situation.
Second. We have 180,000 people in our own organization on our pay rolls and directly concerned in our prosperity. I believe it can be conservatively stated that allowing four dependents to each worker, we have approaching three quarters of a million people whose prosperity and happiness is directly concerned with ours.
Third. We have our dealer organization. There are in the aggregate something like 18,000 dealers. If we assume, and I think we have a right to assume, that each dealer would average twenty-five employees, I really think it is much higher than that, we have something like 500,000 dealers and members of their direct organization, with their dependents a total of over 2,000,000. I estimate these dealers are employing a capital of over $500,000,000.
Fourth. Next we have over 4,600 suppliers of material. I haven't any idea how many workers are involved in the organization of those suppliers applicable to General Motors production, but as you can well appreciate, it is very large.
"Fifth. We have the enormous aggregation of people number of stockholders increased to 372,000 from 1927 to 1933, whose prosperity depends, in turn, upon the prosperity of those I have mentioned above their purchasing power, in other words. As a matter of fact, there are several cities of importance in the United States whose prosperity is absolutely linked up with the prosperity of General Motors
  • p. 333-4: Speech by President Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., 1927 (III)
  • Let me tell you about what we call our field trips. It may surprise you to know, that I have personally visited, with many of my associates, practically every city in the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to Mexico. If any of you has done this, you realize what big a country it is. It has taken me weeks and weeks of the hardest kind of work and continual travel to accomplish this. I which that my duties were such that I could do more of it; and I am trying to arrange my affairs so that I can. On these trips I visit from five to ten dealers a day. I meet them in their own places of business, talk with them across their own desks and solicit from them suggestions and criticisms as to their relations with the Corporation; the character of the product; the Corporation's policies; the trend of consumer demand; their viewpoint as to the future, and many other things that such contact makes possible. I solicit criticism of anything and everything.
    • p. 343

New York Times interview, 1935[edit]

Alfred P. Sloan in: New York Times, December 5, 1935;

  • We must move toward a soundly based and widely distributed economic well-being. This is the 'theory of plenty' as distinguished from the 'theory of scarcity' which has dominated our recent economic thinking and politics. Our yardstick, according to my thinking, I consists of the most effective balance between the following: First, the reduction in the real costs and selling! prices of goods and services; second, a more economic balance of national income through policies affecting wages, hours, prices and profits.
    • Cited in: Charles Cullen Chapman (1936), The development of American business and banking thought, 1913-1936. p. 265
  • Industry must further expand its horizon of thinking and action Industry must further expand its horizon of thinking and action. It must assume the role of an enlightened industrial statesmanship. To the extent that it accepts such broadened responsibilities, to that degree does it assure the maintenance of private enterprise, and with it the exercise of free initiative as the most efficient creator of wealth.
During the past few years it has become the vogue to discredit every instrumentality of accomplishment, be it the individual or the machine. It has been said that American industry is selfish. It would be far more just to say that it has been preoccupied — preoccupied in exploring the secrets of nature and creating a continuous flow of new products.
But, as we look forward, and as we analyze the evolution that has occurred, I am convinced that industry's responsibilities can no longer be adequately discharged, however efficient and effective it may be, with the mere physical production of goods and services.
  • as cited in: Thurman Arnold. The Folklore of Capitalism. (2000), p. 72
  • First let us ask whether our wealth-creating agencies, particular that of industry, are to be based upon private enterprise of policy management. I can not see how any intelligent observer can have any possible faith in the capacity of political management to provide either stability or progress if it should set out to operate the agencies of wealth creation, particularly industry. It is my firm conviction that any form of 'Government Regulation of Business' is bound to result in an ever-increasing interference with the broad exercise of initiative - the very foundation of the American system. That is the natural evolution of bureaucracy. If that be so, might not the ultimate logical result be the necessity for the socialization of industry through the break down of the profit system induced by the accumulative effect of the ever-increasing political management. We do not need to go far afield to see definite evidences of that possibility
  • I have already remarked that the 'theory of scarcity has been a dominating influence in many of our economic policies. In the case of taxation, however, there is involved the 'theory of plenty' and there must now be involved the 'theory of plenty more.' Every dollar of the billions that are being indiscriminately spent without accountability is a mortgage on the income, the savings, as well as the security of the people. There must be brought home to the consciousness of all that the more the government takes, the less each one has no one can possibly escape.

"The Broadened Responsibilities of Industry's Executive," 1936[edit]

Alfred P. Sloan Jr, "The Broadened Responsibilities of Industry's Executives." in J. George Frederick (ed.). For Top-executives Only: A Symposium. New York, 1936.

  • A recovery after a depression is as inevitable as that day follows night. It can not be permanently suppressed. Its vitality is so powerful that it will break down the barriers set up by the most arbitrary dictator. Hence there is developing a new confidence and a new faith in those principles which have formed the the foundation of economic evolution and industrial progress during the last several decades — principles which we have been proud to call "American principles," and for which we have been reared with a wholesome respect. There are still lacking the assurances of a broad and definitely defined opportunity and the elimination of certain unsound economic policies, thus limiting the application of these vital principles we have always known and retarding their ability to accelerate our economic recovery.
    • p. 351; Lead paragraph.
  • Some see danger in bigness. They fear the concentration of economic power that it brings with it. That is in a degree true. It simply means, however, that industrial management must expand its horizons of responsibility. It must recognize that it can no longer confine its activities to the mere production of goods and services. It must consider the impact of its operation on the economy as a whole in relation to the social and economic welfare of the entire community. For years I have preached this philosophy. Those charged with great industrial responsibility must become industrial statesmen.
    • p. 358; Also in Sloan & Sparkes (1941, 145); Partly cited in: Roland Marchand (1997, p. 83)
  • Industry's responsibilities broaden. Its leaders must develop an enlightened and militant statesmanship, for progress in the solution of these problems is vital. If this responsibility is not assumed and discharged from within industry, it is bound to be superimposed from without.
    • p. 362

Adventures of a White-Collar Man. 1941[edit]

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. and ‎Boyden Sparkes, Adventures of a White-Collar Man. 1941.

Advertisement for the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company from the Saturday Evening Post of 5 June 1915
  • There was excitement for us all in the fact that I had a job in the mechanical field, so that my education would count.... Well, I am bound to admit the first sight of my opportunity was disappointing... Not far from a city dump on a weed-grown, marshy plain was an old weather-worn building, like an overgrown barn. In its indefinite yard there was a small mound of coal and a great mound of reddish-gray cinders and ashes; also a disorderly accumulation of discarded machinery ... Once the factory had been painted brown. Only one word describes it: "dirty." Smoke from the dump carried an acric odor. Eventually across the wall nearest the railroad track there was lettered in black this legend: HYATT ROLLER BEARING COMPANY
  • Technological progress — and it is a pity more do not appreciate it — is the one sound approach to increased employment and higher wages. There is no other way. Irrespective of what is being said to the contrary, new industries can be created, present industries can be expanded, unemployment can be eliminated in a practical way
    • p. 10; Published earlier in: Drugs, Oils & Paints, (1939). Vol. 54-55, p. 335
  • Roll a ball under your hand on a table and roll a pencil in the same manner. What you feel are "point" and "line" bearings. But to understand what mechanics mean by a surface "bearing," grasp a pencil in your hand and use your other hand to make it turn as a piece of shafting. Now, the lower half of the shaft is supported everywhere by contact with your hand — the upper half is not supported, merely covered. The advantages of ball and roller bearings were obvious many years ago to mechanical people... Solid steel rollers, being inflexible, were not satisfactory at that stage, but a Hyatt flexible roller bearing was different. We had something. Our spirally wound tube roller had a springlike quality, yielded to irregularities caused by poor manufacture, thus making automatic adjustments between housing and bearing.
    • p. 13-14, as cited in: William Pelfrey (2006), Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, a Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History. p. 30-31; Sloan describing the Hyatt roller bearing product;
  • It is astonishing what you can do when you have a lot of energy, ambition and plenty of ignorance.
    • p. 18
  • Naturally. I like to see General Motors stock register a good price on the market, but that is just a matter of pride... What has counted with me is the true value of the property as a business return on investment.
    • p. 103
  • There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worth while, especially when it is new and different.
    • p. 127
  • Manifestly, in any organization men should move from the bottom up to the top. That develops loyalty, ambition and talent, because there is a chance for promotion. Never inject a man into the top if it can be avoided. In a big organization to have to do that, I think, is a reflection on management. Of course there are always exceptional cases. As the years have passed, developing, as they naturally have, emergencies at times, I have been gratified to find that we have, with very few exceptions, been able to find right within ourselves some individual capable of assuming a greater responsibility, and he has always been given the opportunity.
    • p. 137
  • Many associate the word scientific with physics. But it means much more than that. Scientific management means a constant search for the facts, the true actualities, and their intelligent, unprejudiced analysis. Thus, and in no other way, policies and their administration are determined. I keep saying to the General Motors organization that we are prepared to spend any proper amount of money to get the facts. Only by increased knowledge can we progress, perhaps I had better say survive. That is really research, but few realize research can and should be just as effectively used in all functional branches of industry as in physics
    • p. 140
  • But as president of General Motors, I realized our thinking affected the lives of hundreds of thousands directly and influenced the economic welfare of many important communities, in some of which we were almost the sole provider. In some way, visible or invisible, as we expanded, the economic welfare of millions was becoming linked with the welfare of General Motors. Previously, when industry was smaller, the absorbing problems of industrial management were largely limited to the fields of engineering, production and distribution. Out of its endeavors in these fields had come a continuous stream of new products, providing new comforts and making possible better ways of living. General Motors was becoming large through a , but only because it was rendering a service to community. As its volume of business expanded it became able to do more for workers, stockholders and customers.
    • p. 144

My Years with General Motors, 1963[edit]

Alfred P. Sloan, My Years with General Motors, 1963

  • Growth and progress are related, for there is no resting place for an enterprise in a competitive economy.
    • p. 15 (2015 edition)
  • I had trouble at first, in the early 1900s, in selling Mr. Leland our roller bearings. He then taught me the need for greater accuracy in our products to meet the exacting standards of interchangeable parts. Mr. Leland came to the industry with a mature experience in general engineering and in gasoline engines, which he had long made for boats. One of his specialties was precision metalwork, which went back to his experience in toolmaking for a federal arsenal during the Civil War, and which he afterward developed in the Brown and Sharpe Company, machine-tool makers of Providence, Rhode Island. It has been called to my attention It has been called to my attention that Eli Whitney, long before, had started the development of interchangeable parts, a fact which suggests a line of descent from Whitney to Leland to the automobile industry.
    • p. 20 (in 1964 edition)
  • My father was in the wholesale tea, coffee, and cigar business, with a firm called Bennett-Sloan and Company. In 1885 he moved the business to New York City, on West Broadway, and from the age of ten I grew up in Brooklyn. I am told I still have the accent. My father's father was a schoolteacher. My mother's father was a Methodist minister. My parents had five children, of whom I am the oldest. There is my sister, Mrs. Katharine Sloan Pratt, now a widow. There are my three brothers — Clifford, who was in the advertising business; Harold, a college professor; and Raymond, the youngest, who is a professor, writer, and expert on hospital administration. I think we have all had in common a capability for being dedicated to our respective interests.
I came of age at almost exactly the time when the automobile business in the United States came into being. In 1895 the Duryeas, who had been experimenting with motor cars, started what I believe was the first gasoline-automobile manufacturing company in the United States. In the same year I left the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a a BS. in electrical engineering, and went to work for the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company of Newark, later of Harrison, New Jersey. The Hyatt antifriction bearing was later to become a component of the automobile, and it was through this component that I came into the automotive industry. Except for one early and brief departure from it, I have spent my life in the industry.
  • p. 37
  • Starting in 1918 at General Motors I found to my surprise] that if I followed the prevailing practice of intercorporate relations I would no longer be able to determine the rate of return on investment for these accessory divisions individually or as a group. This would necessarily mean that I would lose some degree of managerial control over my area of operations. At that time, material within General Motors was passing from one operating division to another at cost, or at cost plus some predetermined percentage. My divisions in the United Motors Corporation had sold both to outside customers and to their allied divisions at the market price. I knew that I operated a profit-making group, and I wished to continue to be able to demonstrate this performance to the general management, rather than to have my operating results on interdivisional business swallowed up in the extra bookkeeping profits of some other division. It was a case of keeping the information clear.
    • p. 48
  • It was not, however, a matter of interest to me only with respect to my divisions, since as a member of the Executive Committee, I was a kind of general executive and so had begun to think from the corporate viewpoint. The important thing was that no one knew how much was being contributed — plus or minus — by each division to the common good of the corporation. And since, therefore, no one knew, or could prove, where the efficiencies and inefficiencies lay, there was no objective basis for the allocation of new investment. This was one of the difficulties with the expansion program of that time. It was natural for the divisions to compete for investment funds, but it was irrational for the general officers of the corporation not to know where to place the money to best advantage. In the absence of objectivity it was not surprising that there was a lack of real agreement among the general officers. Furthermore, some of them had no broad outlook, and used their membership on the Executive Committee mainly to advance the interests of their respective divisions.
The important thing was that no one knew how much was being contributed—plus or minus—by each division to the common good of the corporation. And since, therefore, no one knew, or could prove, where the efficiencies and inefficiencies lay, there was no objective basis for the allocation of new investment.
  • p. 48-49
  • I had taken up the question of interdivisional relations with Mr. Durant [president of GM at the time] before I entered General Motors and my views on it were well enough known for me to be appointed chairman of a committee "to formulate rules and regulations pertaining to interdivisional business" on December 31, 1918. I completed the report by the following summer and presented it to the Executive Committee on December 6, 1919. I select here a few of its first principles which, though they are an accepted part of management doctrine today, were not so well known then. I think they are still worth attention.
I stated the basic argument as follows:
The profit resulting from any business considered abstractly, is no real measure of the merits of that particular business. An operation making $100,000.00 per year may be a very profitable business justifying expansion and the use of all the additional capital that it can profitably employ. On the other hand, a business making $10,000,000 a year may be a very unprofitable one, not only not justifying further expansion but even justifying liquidation unless more profitable returns can be obtained. It is not, therefore, a matter of the amount of profit but of the relation of that profit to the real worth of invested capital within the business. Unless that principle is fully recognized in any plan that may be adopted, illogical and unsound results and statistics are unavoidable ...
  • p. 49
  • Competition is the final price determinant and competitive prices may result in profits which force you to accept a rate of return less than you hoped for, or for that matter to accept temporary losses. And, in times of inflation, the rate-of-return concept comes up against the problem of assets undervalued in terms of replacement. Nevertheless, no other financial principle with which I am acquainted serves better than rate of return as an objective aid to business judgment. This principle had governed the thinking of the Finance Committee of General Motors since 1917.
    • p. 140
General Motors Building (Cadillac Place), completed in 1922.
  • By The middle of The 1920s General Motors had accomplished some things, but apart from survival and reorganization, they were more in the realm of the mind than of reality. We knew, as I have related, the strategy with which we proposed to approach the car business, how we proposed to manage the enterprise financially, and the relationships we wanted to establish among persons in different roles. But by the end of 1924 little of this was reflected in Our activities in the automobile market. That our volume of business had increased after the slump of 1921 — and especially in 1923 — could be attributed less to our own wits than to the improvement in the general economy and the rising demand for automobiles. While internally we had made much progress, externally we had marked time. But the time had come to act.
    • p. 149
  • The transformation of the automobile market was essentially complete in 1929. If Mr. Ford, in that pivotal year in the modern economy, still held stubbornly to his old concept in his new Model A, he was counterbalanced by Mr. Chrysler, who had come up from nowhere with tremendous vitality and with a market policy similar to General Motors'. The fact that Mr. Ford built nearly two million of the five million U.S.-produced cars and trucks sold that year was only incidental from the long-term point of view. it was a splurge, not the sign of a trend.
    • p. 169
  • Competition is the final price determinant and competitive prices may result in profits which force you to accept a rate of return less than you hoped for, or for that matter to accept temporary losses.
    • p. 173 (2015 edition)
  • I then went on to suggest that we make a serious effort to gauge the demand over the next five to ten years, and make plans to meet that demand. In building new facilities, I suggested that we "use corporation funds for such new plants needed for armament if that gives us better control over same from the long term position in relation to the master plan." Accelerated depreciation made the use of corporate funds all the more feasible, and relieved the government of the necessity of providing capital for the plants.
    • p. 387 (1964 edition)
  • I am sure we all realize that this struggle that is going on though the World is really nothing more or less than a conflict between two opposing technocracies manifesting itself to the capitalization of economic resources and products and all that sort of thing.
    • p. 438
  • In the 1920... the closed body rose to dominance, the Model T came to an end, and the upgrading of cars began. The events of the past few years of car market, I believe, have validated the General Motors product policy that we formulated in 1921. John Gordon, president of General Motors, recently observed that our slogan of “a car for every purse and purpose” is as appropriate as ever; indeed, we have never offered our customers greater variety and choice than we do today. In the 1963 model year the industry offers 429 models of domestically produced cars, compared with 272 in 1955; General Motor alone had 138 models in 1963, compared with 85 in 1955.
    • p. 512 (2015 edition)
  • I hold that if companies are attacked simply because they are big then an attack on efficiency must be a corollary of that attack. If we penalize efficiency, how can we as a nation compete in the economy of the world at large?
    • p. 514

Disputed[edit]

  • The business of business is business.
    • Widely attributed to Milton Friedman, and sometimes cited as being in his work Capitalism and Freedom (1962) this is also attributed to Alfred P. Sloan, sometimes with citation of a statement of 1964, but sometimes with attestations to his use of it as a motto as early as 1923.

Quotes about Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.[edit]

  • Before World War II management was the concern of a tiny band of “true believers,” mostly consultants and professors. Very few practicing managers paid any attention, though Alfred P. Sloan at General Motors, Robert E. Wood at Sears, Roebuck, and Chester Barnard at the American Telephone Company—to mention some prominent Americans—were significant exceptions. But even Barnard’s colleagues at the Telephone Company showed no interest in what they considered his hobby. Few managers at that time would have even realized that they practiced management; and concern with management as a field of study, as a discipline, and as a social function was practically nonexistent.
    • Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, (1973), p. 14.
  • Alfred P. Sloan, James D. Mooney, John T. Smith and Graeme K. Howard remained on the Opel board . . . in flagrant violation of existing legislation, information, contacts, transfers and trade continued [throughout the war] to flow between the firm's Detroit headquarters and its subsidiaries both in Allied countries and in territories controlled by the Axis powers. The financial records of Opel Rüsselsheim revealed that between 1942 and 1945 production and sales strategy were planned in close coordination with General Motors factories throughout the world.... In 1943, while its American manufacturers were equipping the United States Air Force, GM's German counterpart were developing, manufacturing and assembling motors for the Messerschmitt 262, the first jet fighter in the world. This innovation gave the Nazis a basic technological advantage. With speeds up to 540 miles per hour, this aircraft could fly 100 miles per hour faster than its American rival, the piston-powered Mustang P51.
    • Red Marriott, (2006). "How the Allied multinationals supplied Nazi Germany throughout World War II". libcom.org. Retrieved 2009-06-18. Excerpted from Higham, Charles. Trading with the Enemy - The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949, New York: Doubleday, 1982.
  • Around 1930, Sloan considered the problem of ride quality as one of the most pressing and most complex in automotive engineering, and the problem was getting worse as car speeds increased. The early solid rubber tyres had been replaced by vented thick rubber, and then by inflated tyres. In the 1920s, tyres became even softer, which introduced increased problems of handling stability and axle vibrations. On a trip to Europe, Sloan met French engineer Andre Dubonnet who had patented a successful independent suspension, and had him visit the US to make contact with GM engineers. Also, by 1933 Rolls-Royce already had an independent front suspension, which was on cars imported to the USA. Maurice Olley, who had previously worked for Rolls-Royce, was employed by GM, and worked on the introduction of independent suspensions there. In Sloan's autobiography, a letter from Olley describes an early ride meter, which was simply an open-topped container of water, which was weighed after a measured mile at various speeds. Rolls-Royce had been looking carefully at ride dynamics, including measuring body inertia, trying to get a sound scientific understanding of the problem, and Olley introduced this approach at GM.
    • John Dixon (2009), Suspension Analysis and Computational Geometry, p. 10

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