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Wharton School, Industrial Research Unit records

1941-2001 Majority of material found within 1968-1988
 Collection
Identifier: 2296

Abstract

The Industrial Research Unit of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania mission was to "study the economic and social problems of business." Herbert Roof Northrup (1918-2007) was chairman of the Department of Industry and director of the Industrial Research Unit. The records consist of surveys, notes, interviews and background materials for the studies produced by the Industrial Research Unit and its predecessor from 1941 to 1990 and collected and maintained by Northrup. The bulk of the files are from the 1970s and 1980s.

Dates

  • 1941-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1988

Creator

Extent

23 Linear Feet

Historical Note

The Industrial Research Unit of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania mission was to "study the economic and social problems of business." The unit was founded in 1921, and was originally called the Industrial Research Department. The Department was sponsored by the University's trustees and financially assisted by the Carnegie Corporation, and worked with a group of representative Philadelphia firms that furnished data for research and analysis. From its inception until World War II, the Department attracted worldwide attention for its pioneering studies of industrial relations. Research results were well received by employer associations, government agencies, and international organizations.

Due to budgetary problems after World War II there was a restructuring of the institution. In 1953, the Department became a unit of the Wharton School's Department of Industry (later known as the Department of Management). The title "Industrial Research Unit" came into existence at this time. The Unit made new progress in areas of labor mobility, pricing, and productivity. In 1964, when the Wharton School appointed Herbert Roof Northrup (1918-2007) as chairman of the Department of Industry and director of the Industrial Research Unit, and the Unit moved from 3440 Walnut Street to the Wharton School's Dietrich Hall, its future was uncertain. Under Northrup's leadership however, it soon succeeded in gaining necessary resources to fund new initiatives. By the summer of 1968, the Unit had become an active, vital organization again, advancing knowledge in industrial relations, labor market, manpower, and industry studies. In addition to contributing numerous articles to professional journals worldwide, it completed two book series. Under Northrup's direction, Wharton became the largest academic publisher of industrial labor relations and personnel materials.

In 1972, the Industrial Research Unit moved its offices to the newly built Vance Hall. In 1990, the institution was renamed "The Center for Human Resources." The present center is more focused on the study of human resources and labor and personnel management.

Biographical Note

Herbert Roof Northrup (1918-2007) was chairman of the Department of Industry and director of the Industrial Research Unit.

Northrup was born March 6, 1918 in Irvington, New Jersey. Northrup received an AB from Duke University in 1939, an AM from Harvard University in 1941, and a PhD from Harvard University in 1942. After college, Northrup held numerous positions in his career as an economist and business executive. He was an instructor of economics at Cornell University, 1942-1943; a senior hearing officer for the National War Labor Board from 1943 to 1945; assistant professor of economics at Columbia University from 1945-1949; and a labor economist for the National Industrial Conference Board from 1949-1952. Other positions held by Northrup were: industrial relations consultant for Ebasco Services, 1952-1955; vice president of industrial relations for Penn-Texas Corp., New York City, 1955-1958; employee relations manager for General Electric Co., 1958-1961; and professor of industry at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School from 1961-1988. Northrup retired in 1988. While at the Wharton School, Northrup was also chairman of the department of industry from 1964 to 1969, and director of the Industrial Research Unit from 1964 to 1988. Northrup was also chairman of the Labor Relations Council from 1968 to 1985.

Northrup served as a consultant and expert witness on manpower, personnel and labor relations problems for various companies and wrote numerous articles and publications during his career. He was also an arbitrator in labor relations disputes. In October 1982 Northrup was appointed chairman by President Reagan, of an Emergency Board to "investigate a dispute between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Delaware Transportation Authority, and certain labor organizations."

Northrup retired from teaching in 1983 but continued to research and publish. Northrup married Eleanor Pearson (1920-2018) on June 3, 1944, and had five children. Northrup lived in Haverford, Pennsylvania until his death on October 22, 2007.

Scope and Content

The records consist of surveys, notes, interviews and background materials for the studies produced by the Industrial Research Unit and its predecessor from 1941 to 1990 and collected and maintained by Herbert R. Northrup. The bulk of the files are from the 1970s and 1980s, but there are also a few files from the Center for Human Resources and its first director, Peter Cappelli.

The collection is arranged into five series: The Alphabetical file; The OSHA files; Human Resources files; Professionals in industry studies; and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Survey Questionnaires.

The Alphabetical file contains questionnaires, interviews, notes and background articles on the various industries studied arranged alphabetically by industry. Among the subjects covered are bargaining beteween DuPont and the United Steelworkers; safety in the coal industry and the 1978 coal strike; "double-breasted" operation, whereby a common owner operates both union and non-union businesses; whistle-blowing; religion and labor; and health care costs.

The OSHA files deal with the impact of chemical exposure in the aerospace and chemical industries, and of noise and dust exposure in the textile industry.

Human Resources files deal with downsizing, shift work, equal employment opportunity, and the employment of women and minorities.

Professionals in industry studies consists of materials for a study of personnel policies for engineers and other scientific professionals in industry. Companies represented include Apple Computer, Boeing, DuPont, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Texas Instruments, Westinghouse, and Xerox.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Survey Questionnaires consists of questionnaires for a 1991 survey conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers on the shortage of skilled workers, including questions on training, retraining, hiring practices, turnover rate and orientaion practices.

Access Restrictions

All internal (unpublished) materials in the collection are restricted for 25 years from the date of their creation.

Related Materials

http://www.archives.upenn.edu/faids/upb/upb5/upb5.html Wharton School Records (UPB 5), University Archives and Records Center, University of Pennsylvania

Herbert R. Northrup Papers (PATCO Strike), Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Materials

The Published Collections Department houses publications about studies done by the Industrial Research Unit and Herbert Northrup. These publications may be found by searching our online library catalog.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Wharton School, Industrial Research Unit records
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400