The authors state in the preface that this is neither a biography nor a business history, but “a selection of the elements that seem historically and socially important in a case study of the introduction of mass production of machinery into the grain and cattle economy of Argentina.” In spite of this statement, the book is primarily a history of the Sociedad Industrial Americana Maquinarias Di Tella Limitada (SIAM) and the preponderant role of Torcuato Di Tella in its early history. Excluding the introduction (which is a brief survey of the economic and political history of Argentina), four of the book’s seven chapters trace the evolution of SIAM from 1928 to 1960, while two others (II and V) form a rather brief biography of Di Tella. The last chapter, “Entrepreneurship, Industrialization, and Argentine Culture,” attempts to generalize from the example of SIAM and Di Tella.
The description of SIAM’S development from the making of bread-kneading machines in an old garage to Argentina’s largest industrial complex includes quite detailed discussions of the manufacturing of gasoline pumps, water softeners, ice boxes, electric motors, etc. It does not, however, go much beyond such descriptions. For example, there is no analysis of the place of SIAM in the overall process of Argentine industrialization; neither is there an explanation of the effects upon SIAM—nor industry in general—of the different economic positions of the Radical, Conservative, Peronist, and military governments.
The last section could have made the entire book worthwhile; unfortunately, it does not quite do so. While there is a good description of Di Tella’s labor policy and the changes thereupon forced by the Peronist government, it is only SIAM and Di Tella that are discussed—not “Entrepreneurship, Industrialization, and Argentine Culture.”
The book was written almost entirely from SIAM records, Di Tella’s correspondence, and personal interviews. This is apparent not only from the footnotes, but also from the authors’ style, which detracts seriously from the work. In places the method of expression is such that many readers may well refuse to go on.
In general, this is a good description of the early development of SIAM; however, it does little to analyze the phenomenon of Entrepreneurship in Argentine Culture.