Doing It for Themselves: The Steel Company of Wales and the Study of American Industrial Productivity, 1945–1955

  • Enterprise & Society, December 2016, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/eso.2016.55

Modernising Britain's post-war steel industry

What is it about?

After the Second World War, the study of American steelworks design as well as production and management methods, played an important part in re-shaping Britain's steel industry. This article examines how the Steel Company of Wales, responsible for building Britain's largest post-war steelworks in Port Talbot, gathered information about the American steel industry, and examines to what extent these lessons were applied to the building of the new 'Abbey' works in Port Talbot after 1945.

Why is it important?

Histories of Britain's steel industry in the twentieth century tend to portray it as rather conservative and lacking in dynamic leadership. This study presents a different picture, arguing that the Steel Company of Wales was an innovative and ambitious firm which did not wait for state-led information-gathering visits to the United States, but conducted its own investigations into American industrial productivity. In doing so, it became one of the best-informed companies in Britain's steel sector and helped spread knowledge of the latest American methods throughout the industry.

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The following have contributed to this page: Louise Miskell