chapter  V
23 Pages

Struggling with Destiny: The Cotton Industry, Overseas Trade Policy and the Cotton Board, 1940-1959

Recent commentary on the experience of the British cotton industry concentrates on the supply side problems of the industry and on the behaviour of individual firms . In his influential articles , William Lazonick singles out the industry's structure as a 'constraint' on the behaviour of firms which rendered the industry incapable of competing in world markets and explains its decline during the twentieth century. ! According to Lazonick individual firms acted 'rationally' , but the structure of the industry blocked the necessary changes in technology, management and industrial relations . The vertically specialised structure with separate firms concentrating on spinning, weaving, finishing or merchanting worked well until 1914, but became a 'constraint' when the economic environment shifted . The industry failed to adopt the vertically integrated corporate structures of Japan or the United States which were more appropriate for the new environment after the First World War. Britain's problem was that economic decision-makers , lacking the means to alter existing 'constraints' , in effect took them as 'given' .