Research Seminar: Moeko Yamazaki

Research Seminar: Moeko Yamazaki

“Making the World on Time: The Vietnam War, Deregulation and the Birth of FedEx”


Virtual Event
February 22, 2023
Time 12 PM

Federal Express, now known as FedEx, led the growth of the modern logistics industry by developing a system of flexible and efficient movement of items. In the years immediately following its first operation in 1973, the company invested in a vigorous political campaign to deregulate the air cargo industry, and its success in 1977 played a decisive role in the dramatic corporate growth in the following years. This paper will use corporate records, congressional hearings, and interviews with its managers and executives to examine the birth of FedEx and air cargo deregulation within the context of the Vietnam War, the structural changes of American industries, and the transformation of political culture. Logistics was originally a military concept, and the experience of Fred Smith and other white male executives in the Vietnam War shaped FedEx’s masculine corporate culture, operations, and management structures. Moreover, while FedEx responded well to the demand for speed and flexibility from the increasingly dominant service and high-tech industries in the 1970s, its success also reflected the cultural changes of the era; the company and its founder tried to depict themselves as modern, progressive, and different from the more conservative institutions such as unions, big corporations, and federal regulators. All these elements came together in 1977 when the air cargo industry was deregulated, paving the way for a dramatic growth of the company and the logistics industry as a whole.


Moeko Yamazaki is a dissertation candidate at the University of Oregon.

Marc Levinson, independent scholar will provide an introductory comment.

Registration for this event is via Eventbrite.