chapter  2
16 Pages

Tools and techniques

The failure of manufacturers to replace the tools and techniques that vaulted Britain to international pre-eminence after 1770 with the more efficient production methods that became available in the late nineteenth century and in the twentieth has probably been the most frequently invoked explanation of the nation’s failure to remain competitive with the industrial economies of western Europe, North America, and Japan. Certainly technological backwardness is the most venerable explanation of the “British disease.” The first such charges were voiced long before there was any suspicion of decline. Moreover, this resistance to innovations in machinery and production methods has been alleged against entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries. Managers in industries dependent upon the technologies of eleetricity and steel have been condemned along with those in industries that were dependent upon steam and iron; those manufacturing producers’ goods have been indicted along with those manufacturing consumer goods.