The post-war era

Firms founded after World War II include tool manufacturer Hilti, based in Liechtenstein; the Israeli producer of machine tools Iscar (now part of Berkshire Hathaway); one of the world's largest companies, Wal-Mart, based in Arkansas; the shipbuilders Klaveness Group of Norway; the clothing store H&M and the furniture and home accessory store IKEA, both of Sweden. All of these firms benefited from renewed optimism and a need for high quality goods and services following World War II.

The post-war period opened up the four corners of the globe to technology and innovative ideas. Scientific progress gave rise to new pharmaceutical and computer businesses.11 And the world needed all the engineering, heavy industry and cutting-edge technologies that had been given life during the war to help the reconstruction effort, once hostilities ceased.

The technological boom era

In the 1970s and 1980s, the economy was profoundly influenced by deregulation and modern era trust busting. At the same time financial innovations, previously unimagined technologies and drastic advances in communication began to have a profound impact. The moribund corporations of the 1960s were led to a slow death by their own bureaucracies and huge size.

The result of all this was that companies began to value flexibility as much as size, and innovation as much as their bread- and-butter manufacturing systems. In turn, the new technologies and approaches to business brought product development closer to the customer, enabling even more sophisticated marketing efforts. When, in the late twentieth century, this more integrated system of commerce was combined with supportive U.S. Federal Reserve moves and stock market innovations like the mass marketing of merger and acquisitions; and initial public offering transactions, business and entrepreneurship really came into its own.12

The latter part of the century saw the creation and flourishing of innovative companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, Apple, Virgin, Black Entertainment Television, SAP, Infosys, Skype and Google. The General Infantry Bill of Rights in the U.S. may have contributed to this generation of entrepreneurs by establishing higher education as the societal norm,13 thereby paving the way for the development of more sophisticated technologies.

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