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Neither the academic literature nor the tort reform lobby has observed a deep irony in the American law of enterprise liability. The intellectual roots of enterprise liability lie in a late nineteenth-century movement to reengineer the workplace, a movement whose best known exponent was scientific manager Frederick Winslow Taylor. Along with a generation of managerial engineers, Taylor popularized broad ideas about managerial responsibility for the operations of enterprise—ideas that when loosed on the decentralized institutions of American tort law ultimately found one of their strongest expressions in the law of enterprise liability. Enterprise liability thus stands as one of the great twentieth-century examples of the unanticipated consequences of social action.
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