A History of the International Chemical Industry (2nd edition) by Fred Aftalion (Chemical Heritage Foundation)

July 21, 2010 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

A History of the International Chemical Industry
(2nd edition)

by Fred Aftalion, Chemical Heritage Foundation
(Paperback, 436 pages, 2001, $24.95, ISBN: 0941901297)

Chemical IndustryUnlike conventional histories written about the field of chemistry, this study presents an international perspective, integrating the story of chemical science with that of the chemical industry and emphasizing the developments of the 20th century.

This new edition includes events from 1990 to 2000–when major companies began selling off their divisions, seeking to specialize in a particular business. While many companies gained short-term profitability, long-term loss was a risk as specialization threatened their competitive edge and shareholder value.

Conversely, companies that remained broad and diversified–“contrarians”–stood to gain advantages and profit in the long term. As Aftalion describes the recent history of the international chemical industry, he explores the successes of the true contrarians, using BASF, Dow, and Bayer as examples, and the downfall of firms less able to cope with the vagaries of the new economy.

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