From Empire to Europe: The Decline and Revival of British Industry Since the Second World War

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9780002556828: From Empire to Europe: The Decline and Revival of British Industry Since the Second World War

Renowned industrial expert Geoffrey Owen analyses the complex reasons behind the delayed modernization of post-war British industry.

That Britain’s industry has been in decline for fifty years is hardly disputed, yet the causes of this slide are still hotly contested. Some have attributed it to poor management, over-weening trades unions and incompetent government; others have aimed their fire at the financial markets, or deficiencies in education and training. Opinion is equally divided on the long-term value to Britain of the Thatcher era, which changed the face of the British industrial base.

Through an engaging, accessible analysis of British industry since 1945, Geoffrey Owen argues that since the late seventies British industry has underdgone a painful but necessary transformation, which has rapidly modernized the UK economy.

He analyses the interaction between individual firms, industries and countries, demonstrating the influence of national institutions and policies on which types of industry are likely to succeed. Comparisons with post-war France and Germany serve to distinguish what led to the inertia and then decline of Britain’s manaufacturing industries at a time when those of other countries were flourishing, followed by the partial recovery of the 1980s and 1990s in the wake of the Thatcher revolution.

Including case studies of a wide variety of industries, such as steel, paper, engineering, motor vehicles, electronics, aerospace, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, Owen writes with clarity and authority.

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Why did British industry develop such a bad reputation after the Second World War? What happened to the country's mighty manufacturing base? The usual suspects are complacent and incompetent management, belligerent trade unionism or misguided government. Geoffrey Owen, former Editor of the Financial Times, examines the evidence and dispels many myths.

There have, he points out, been successes as well as failures, with chemicals exemplifying the former, cars the latter. And now British industry is coming back. If trades unions played a part in failure, so did poor management. And if governments had adopted different policies earlier, with a greater involvement in Europe and a willingness to create competitive industries rather than manage nationalised ones, things could have been different.

If you are looking for material to help grind a political axe, you'll be be disappointed, for Owen, masterfully marshalling facts in support of a clear narrative, argues that many elements were beyond British control. The country's industrial legacy made it reluctant to give up older industries such as cotton and shipbuilding; unlike France and Germany it felt no need for a radical new start after the war; it was bound to take time to evolve from major power with imperial markets to a medium-sized industrial nation. --Kim Fletcher


‘Engaging and knowledgable…A very well-written volume.’ Lord Hanson, Management Today

‘Thoughtful, serious and convincing.’ Martin Taylor, Sunday Telegraph

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Owen, Geoffrey
Published by HarperCollins Publishers (2000)
ISBN 10: 0002556820 ISBN 13: 9780002556828
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002556820

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