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Economic maturity and entrepreneurial decline : British iron and steel, 1870-1913 /
Donald N. McCloskey.
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1973.
description
xiv, 157 p. : ill.
ISBN
0674228758
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1973.
isbn
0674228758
catalogue key
2482406
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Summaries
Main Description
It is often alleged that late Victorian businessmen in Britain displayed little of the vigor of their fathers in competition with the new industrial powers of the late nineteenth century, Germany and the United States. This allegation has been the foundation for a great many interpretations of the end of British domination over the world's economic life and of the economic difficulties that Britain has faced subsequently. The British iron and steel industry is taken traditionally as the prime example of entrepreneurial decline. Mr. McCloskey shows, however, that businessmen in the industry performed on most counts as well as their German and American counterparts. The lack of evidence of entrepreneurial failure in the industry casts serious doubt on the importance of the entrepreneurial factor in Britain's relative decline. It suggests, indeed, that the supposed failure was a mere reflex of Britain's early attainment of economic maturity and the contemporaneous drive to maturity of Germany and the United States. McCloskey uses relatively uncomplicated economic tools to establish these points. The central tool is the measurement of total factor productivity in the iron and steel industry in Britain and abroad. It is supplemented by analyses of supply and demand (to remove the influence of slowly growing demand at home from the record of the British industry): of the profitability of adopting the basic open hearth process of steelmaking (to show that the slowness of Britain to adopt it-which has been the keystone of the case for entrepreneurial failure-was economically rational); and of the competitiveness of the industry's markets (to validate use of these simple tools). The book is based on a thorough study of the trade newspapers of the industry, its scientific journals, its statistical annuals, and the many reports of the British government and contemporary observers on its activities. It combines, therefore, the virtues of the "old" and the 'new" economic history. And although the book is historical, its conclusions are relevant to any study of economic growth past or present, in particular to the study of the role of entrepreneurship. This book, a revision of Mr. McCloskey's Ph.D. dissertation, was awarded the David A. Wells Prize for l970-7l. The author is Associate Professor of Economics, The University of Chicago.
Unpaid Annotation
McCloskey uses relatively uncomplicated economic tools to establish these points. The central tool is the measurement of total facto productivity in the iron and steel industry in Britain and abroad. It is supplemented by analyses of supply and demand of the profitability of adopting the basic open hearth process of steelmaking.
Table of Contents
The Iron and Steel Industry and the Hypothesis of Entrepreneurial Failure
The Historiographic Career of the Hypothesis of Failure
The Quantitative Evidence for Britain as a Whole
The Relevance of the Experience in Iron and Steel
Assessing Entrepreneurial Performance in Iron and Steel
The Market Structure of the Industry
Cycles in Monopoly Power from 1870 to 1913
Monopoly Power among Regions of the Country
Competition and the Hypothesis of Failure
The Industry's Consumers and the Industry's Growth
The Slow Growth of Demand
The Substitution of Steel for Iron
The "Most Notable Single Instance" of Entrepreneurial Failure: The Neglect of the Basic Process
Was the Neglect of Basic Ores Irrational?
The Shift to Basic Steel
Productivity Change, 1870-1913
The Material-Intensity and Capital-Lightness of the Industry
Pig Iron
Bessemer Steel Rails
Open Hearth Steel Ship Plates
Was Productivity Change More Rapid in the American Industry?
Productivity Change in American Iron and Steel
Slow Growth and Antique Technology in Steel
American and British Productivity before 1913
Levels of Productivity
How Well British Entrepreneurs Performed Appendices
Sources for Estimating U.K. Gross National Product and Inputs of Capital and Labor
The Prices of British Iron and Steel
The Input and Output Structure of the British Iron and Steel Industry in 1907
Sources and Methods for Productivity Measurement in Pig Iron
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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