让世界运转的因素包括占主导地位的爱情和咖啡，但是任何因素都不能像企业研究那样阐明我们的过去和未来。诗人阿契博德•麦克勒担任《财富》杂志（Fortune）特约撰稿人时，把自己的工作描述成“把商业世界当作理想国度和多变世界的一种表现形式、而且是一种极富启发的表现形式来进行报道。”科技人员所谓的某公司将“改变世界”的说法几乎成了一种口号。许多公司确实在以微小的方式改变世界。但是，如果说出租车业务不会让未来的历史学家为之兴奋（也许Twitter会），难免让人心生困扰。笔者对《财富》杂志的智囊团进行了调查，列出在最大程度上改变我们生活方式的一些公司。当然，我们不会止步于此。当您阅读本文时，可以点击姊妹篇报道：《令人震惊的11家另类公司》（11 quirky companies that totally blew your mind）和《改变世界的20家虚拟公司》（20 companies that changed the world—in fiction）。
快餐业巨头麦当劳（McDonald's ）通过自动化，把食品加工转变成了一种科学技术，让我们习惯看到食品的一致性。（这要归功于公司创始人雷•克拉克提出的“把汉堡包搬到流水线上”。）麦当劳（MCD -0.46%）在全球推出了象征美国美食的巨无霸汉堡（Big Mac）和薯条，每天在120个国家的3.5万多家餐厅为7,000万顾客提供服务。海德堡大学（Heidelberg University）教授、快餐界学者戴维•霍根说：“汉堡是我们这个世界的象征，而麦当劳理所当然是这种观念的形象大使和推广者。” —Beth Kowitt
Business is the instrument that mankind has settled on to propagate change. Take a long step back and what do you see? A world of invention and unintended consequences.
Other things make the world go round as well—love, principally, and coffee—but there is nothing quite like the study of business to illuminate where we have been and where we are going. The poet Archibald MacLeish, when he was a staff writer at Fortune, described his job as to “report the world of business as an expression—a peculiarly enlightening expression—of the Republic, of the changing world.” It has become a bit of a catchphrase among tech people to say that one’s company is going to “change the world.” Many companies do, in small ways. But disrupting, say, the taxi business is not going to set future historians atwitter (though Twitter conceivably might). We surveyed Fortune’s brain trust to come up with a ranking of the 27 companies that have done the most to alter the way we live. Then, of course, we couldn’t stop. So when you’ve considered this compilation, click through to two companion pieces, 11 quirky companies that totally blew your mind, and 20 companies that changed the world—in fiction.
The fast-food giant turned food production into a science through automation, training us to expect consistency from our food. (Founder Ray Kroc has been credited with saying, "I put the hamburger on the assembly line.") McDonald's MCD -0.46% made the Big Mac and fries synonymous with American cuisine around the world, serving 70 million customers a day in more than 35,000 restaurants in 120 countries. "The hamburger is symbolic of our society," says Heidelberg University professor and fast-food industry scholar David Hogan, "and McDonald's is of course the ambassador and marketer of that concept." —Beth Kowitt