Although economists have long recognised industrial districts as one of the key features of many economies, it is only recently that attention has been focused on the region as an effective means of generating accurate insights into the larger picture of economic performance. This renewed interest in regional issues has also placed at centre stage the role played by networks as a principal organisational feature of the local business community, providing scholars with a rich topic for investigation and debate. Recent work has shown that universal generalisations concerning the impact of networking on the performance of industrial clusters lack credibility, highlighting the consequent need to compare the role played by business networks in a variety of regions. Using a copious range of research material examining several British regions, this volume poses a series of fundamental questions about the nature of industrial clusters and networks. Particular attention is paid to identifying the basic characteristics of a network, outlining how they evolved in key industrial clusters, and assessing their impact on industrial performance, both regionally and nationally. The durability of such networks is another key thread that runs through the essays, prompting comparison with industrial clusters in Britain and abroad. These are issues which stimulate discussion on a wide range of factors within the disciplines of business, economic and social history.
'… this book should be welcomed by historians for the quality of the scholarship, the careful editorial policy, and the contribution to wider debates.' Albion 'This set of essays […] provides a powerful correctlve to much of the received wisdom concerning the historical role of networks and clustering in British economic development.' Enterprise & Society
Contents: Preface; Districts, networks and clusters in England: an introduction, John F. Wilson and Andrew Popp; An economic approach to regional business networks, M.C. Casson; The Manchester industrial district, 1750-1939: clustering, networking and performance, John F. Wilson and John Singleton; Networks, corporate governance and the decline of the Lancashire textile industry, 1860-1980, Steve Toms and Igor Filatotchev; Much ado about nothing? Regional business networks and the performance of the cotton and woollen textile industries, c.1919-1939, Sue Bowden and David Higgins; Banks, communities and manufacturing in West Yorkshire textiles, c.1800-1830, Steven Caunce; Capital networks in the Sheffield region, 1850-1885, Lucy Newton; Quaker networks and the industrial development of Darlington, 1780-1870, Gillian Cookson; The British glove industry 1750-1970: the advantages and vulnerability of a regional industry, Richard Coopey; 'Malefactors and honourable men': the making of commercial honesty in 19th century industrial Birmingham, Francesca Carnevali; Networks and industrial restructuring: the Widnes District and the formation of the United Alkali Company, 1890, Andrew Popp; Business networks, social habits and the evolution of a regional industrial cluster: Coventry 1880s-1930s, Roger Lloyd-Jones and M.J. Lewis; A false dawn? Military procurement and Manchester industrial district, 1935-1960, Till Geiger; Conclusion; Index.