Construction industry - History of Business in the U.S.
Definition: Enterprises that plan, finance, construct, repair, maintain, and demolish buildings and infrastructure
Significance: All aspects of American business require locations at which businesspeople can work and the means to travel among these locations. The construction industry creates both these locations (buildings) and the roads and other infrastructure that make travel between them possible.
In the earliest days of European colonization, all building resembled that of Native Americans in that almost everyone carried out building by themselves using the simplest construction of materials readily at hand from nature. Although some Native Americans used animal hides as a part of their building construction, most of their early structures were of wood or stone depending on the availability of each substance. Colonists followed the same pattern. The early pioneer settlements on the great prairies were not infrequently made of sod. Only much later would clay products such as bricks and tiles be used in those areas where suitable clay was available. Two hundred and fifty years went by before steel was used as a critical structural material. Although such do-it-yourself building continues in the shadow of modern industrial construction, a specialization in the construction industry has emerged.
- Bon, Ranko. Building as an Economic Process. 2d ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001. Process is the key variable examined in this study of building from an economic perspective.
- Bon, Ranko, and David Crosthwaite. The Future of International Construction. London: Thomas Telford, 2000. This book examines American construction from an international perspective.
- Dow, Louis A., and Fred Hendon. Economics and Society. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1991. These coauthors, strongly influenced by the freemarket economics of Adam Smith, examine economics in a societal context.
- Hillebrandt, Patricia A. Economic Theory and the Construction Industry. 3d ed. London: Macmillan, 2000. This book takes a theoretical look at building from an economic perspective.
- Ive, Graham, and Stephen Gruneberg. The Economics of the Modern Construction Sector. London: Macmillan, 2000. All aspects of construction are placed in a theoretical economic framework.
- Willis, James. Explorations in Microeconomics. 5th ed. Redding, Calif.: North West, 2002. This mainstream text examines construction from a microeconomic perspective explaining the impact of construction on the individual firm.
See also: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Crédit Mobilier of America scandal; Government spending; highways; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Henry J. Kaiser; Commercial real estate industry; Residential real estate industry; Woodworking industry.