Thomas midgley and the politics of industrial research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The conventional distinctions between "practical" and "scientific" research and development can be misleading. The experience of Thomas Midgley, Jr., at the General Motors Corporation in the three decades before World War II, and especially his critical role in the development of "antiknock" gasoline additives, freon refrigerant, and synthetic rubber, illustrate this fact. Dr. Leslie demonstrates that the management of corporate research and development, especially as that management affects uniquely talented individuals whose interests do not necessarily reflect the immediate needs of the company as seen by management, is basic to success. To solve such problems as they arose, Charles F. Kettering, himself a sympathetic scientist as well as distinguished inventor, worked closely with chief executive Alfred P. Sloan, whose genius for solving managerial problems matched the scientific genius of the most brilliant men in the General Motors laboratories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-503
Number of pages24
JournalBusiness History Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'Thomas midgley and the politics of industrial research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this