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An examination of the post- second world war relative decline of UK manufacturing 1945-1975, viewed through the lens of the Birmingham Small Arms Company Ltd

Heaton, Joe (2007)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This is a study of the decline and collapse, in 1973, of the Birmingham Small Arms Company Ltd, primarily a motorcycle manufacturing company and pre-WW2 world market-leader. The study also integrates and extends several earlier investigations into the collapse that concentrated on events in the Motorcycle Division, rather than on the BSA Group, its directors and its overall strategy. The collapse of BSA was due to failures of strategy, direction and management by directors, who were not up to running one of Britain’s major industrial companies after it was exposed to global competition. While the charge, by Boston Consulting and others, that the directors sacrificed growth for short term profits was not proven, their failure to recognise the importance of motorcycle market share and their policy of segment retreat in response to Japanese competition, played a large part in the decline of the company. Their ill-fated diversification policy harmed the motorcycle business, but capital could have been raised in the 1950s to re-equip its manufacturing facilities, had the directors had the confidence to do so. The study also examined whether the ‘cultural critique’ of Barnett C, Wiener M.J. et al provides a valid alternative explanation for the collapse. While the hypothesis has some plausibility, too many variables and unresolved supplementary questions arise for this to contribute effectively to a rigorous account of the causes of the demise of the firm.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Education
Department:Centre for Lifelong Learning
Additional Information:

Vol 2 (Appendices) is not available in this web version.

Subjects:HC Economic History and Conditions
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:77
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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