Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 26, 2015

Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Annual Meeting

Josetta McLaughlin, Gerald McLaughlin
Pages 72-84

Company Towns, Industrial Welfare/Betterment, and CSR
Lessons from the “Satanic Mills”

This paper describes the principle of service used to guide operations in W.M. Ritter Lumber Company towns, whether this principle supports early attempts at industrial betterment, and whether research on company towns located in remote areas of Central Appalachia during the early 1900s can enhance our understanding of CSR emergence. Many company towns in Central Appalachia are described as “Satanic Mills,” a term reflecting exploitive working conditions. Ritter’s 1920 book (The Lumberman), employee newsletters (The Hardwood Bark), and other resources paint a different picture of company town life and describe a management approach based on Ritter’s principle of service.