Some of the very important men of the time period of 1875-1900 were Rockefeller, Hershey, Sears, and Carnegie. They all have similarities and differences that are very important and show how they became the successes that they were. All four of these men were similar in that they all began humbly. Carnegie started penniless and slowly worked his way up. They all worked very hard for the fame and fortunes they acquired and ended up in those positions because of their desire to succeed. Also, both Carnegie and Rockefeller were involved in many charities and donations where as Hershey and Sears weren't. Many people have thought that Carnegie and Rockefeller were involved in charities for the purpose of making themselves look better when people were starting to think of the way they conducted business as bad.
Each of these men took very different approaches towards their success, and in this way they are similar.
That all found a way to succeed that was different from what everyone else was doing. Rockefeller paid workers low wages and sold oil at very low prices. Then, when he had established control and good business, he raised the prices. This was how he gained such a large profit. Carnegie hired very talented and top-notch workers. He then bought out all of his suppliers (vertical integration) and attempted to but out competing steel producers (horizontal consolidation). Both of these men were very much interested in prosperous industry and wealth. Those were their main concentrations. Hershey used the strategy of creating a good, strong community for his employees and their families. He also hired people during the depression rather than getting rid of people. Something that sets Hershey apart from the other men is the fact that he couldn't read. Sears tried a very different and personal approach to business. He created a catalog. People felt that Sears, even though he was the owner of the large business, was not unreachable. They even wrote him letters asking for husbands and wives indicating their page number in the catalogs. Both Hershey and Sears were more involved with the people than the wealth.
There were three main philosophies of this time period involving business. Social Darwinism comes from Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. I believe that the men shaped this philosophy. Carnegie took up and bought out other smaller businesses for his own so he could become a bigger business. He also tried to buy out his competitors so he would be nearly the only producer of steel in the country and he would be the (or one of the) fittest that had survived. Another philosophy is Social Gospel. This meant that those who made wealth were to return some of their wealth to improving society. I think that this shaped the men. I think that Rockefeller and Carnegie only contributed such large donations because if they didn't, the people would dislike them. Finally, the third philosophy is Monopoly. Monopoly is the consolidation of business so that price production and distribution are controlled and competition is elimination. I think that they also shaped this philosophy. They didn't follow the idea because they had to, they did because it was a good idea and it worked, and they followed the idea to the max. As I mentioned before, Carnegie bought out all of his suppliers so he was in control of the raw materials of his business and he tried to buy out as many of his competitors as possible so that he would be the leading steal producer in the country.
I think that it is not fair to describe this particular time period and the Age of the Robber Baron. These men were using new ideas in industry. They were trying new things, and they worked. It is not as though they were stealing or doing anything wrong, they were simply doing what they needed to do to create the large profit and huge industries that they dreamed of creating. I do think that without these men and their efforts our nation would have had the economic success that is has had. However, with out men, at some point in our history, doing what these men had done, I don't think we would be as economically successful. They brought new methods of industry into our country, methods that worked. Without these methods to grow and expand on, I don't see how our country could have been as economically successful as it is today.