International competition and strategic response in the Dundee jute industry during the inter-war (1919-1939) and post-war (1945-1960s) period : the case of jute industries, Buist Spinning, Craiks and Scott & Fyfe
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This research uses the ‘demand-side thesis’ to examine the decline of the Dundee jute industry. In particular, it examines the effect of international competition and the strategic response of the industry during the inter-war (1919-1939) and the post-war (1945-1960s) period to counter this challenge. The strategic response is studied by examining strategies employed at the firm and the industry level. Strategy at the firm level is studied in the form of capability development using the capabilities approach. The thesis also makes an attempt to redress the issue of determinism in the capabilities approach which suggests that the pattern of capability development is governed by path-dependency. By drawing on the techniques employed in the history literature, this research identifies strategic options that were being considered by firms at the time of capability development and examine why certain alternatives were not pursued. This will bring to light aspects other then those associated with path-dependency that played a role in the pattern of capability development. The capabilities developed by firms during the two periods are compared and contrasted in order to understand the pattern over this period. These findings are juxtaposed with the British cotton textile industry, a related sector, to examine the effectiveness of the demand-side thesis in explaining the decline of the jute industry in particular and the textile industry in general. This thesis makes contribution to three areas of literature: First, the thesis helps to further develop the demand-side framework by introducing a new case (Dundee jute industry) and developing a better understanding of strategic response within the jute and textile industry in general. Second, this thesis contributes to the theoretical development of capabilities approach in two specific areas: a) it helps to address the issue of determinism inherent in the capabilities approach through the notion of path-dependency. This was done by also examining the strategic options that were available to firms while developing their capabilities and underlining the reasons for not pursuing them. b) the analysis sheds new light on the nature of branching of capabilities in an industry over a long period. Third, this research makes significant contribution to the existing literature on the business history of the Dundee jute industry, which is sparse. The contributions can be categorised into four key aspects which have not been examined in the current literature: a) period (inter-war and post-war), b) issue (systematic examination of the Dundee jute industry’s decline, strategic response and role of collective strategies), c) method (detailed study of individual firm’s strategies), and d) cross comparison of industry’s experience with related sectors (for example, the cotton industry). Focusing on these issues has helped to throw new light on the challenges, especially technological, facing the industry in developing its strategic response.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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