L. Gardner and Sons Limited: the history of a British industrial firm. A study with special reference to markets, workplace industrial relations, and manufacturing engineering technology, 1955-1986

Halton, Maurice J. (2010) L. Gardner and Sons Limited: the history of a British industrial firm. A study with special reference to markets, workplace industrial relations, and manufacturing engineering technology, 1955-1986. PhD thesis, University of Bolton.

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Abstract

Investigating a range of commonly asserted characteristics relating to British family firms, this study concluded that, although they retained ownership and control and did not adopt mass-production, no persuasive evidence was found to suggest that the family managers of L. Gardner and Sons behaved unprofessionally or irrationally during the first eighty-seven years of the firm?s existence. Analysed from the perspective of markets and workplace industrial relations, it was found that the Gardner family managers coped reasonably well with most of the macroenvironmental shifts that occurred between 1955 and 1975. However, two serious errors were made: the first, which caused a short-term loss of revenue and a long-term loss of market leadership, was a result of negligence, the second stemmed from an outdated authoritarian approach to industrial relations that resulted in intense discord in the workplace, alleviated only after the management was replaced by a more astute and enlightened regime. A third error occurred after Gardner was sold to Hawker Siddeley, a large British industrial group, in 1977. Based on a perception that Gardner's plant was outdated, the new owners invested in expensive computer controlled manufacturing systems, and increased the volume of subcontracted components, strategies that caused disruptions to production schedules, eroded quality standards, and failed to improve output. As a result, Gardner's superlative reputation for reliability and service became tarnished and its market share plummeted. In 1986, when mounting trading losses became unacceptable, the firm was sold-on to a competitor and production effectively ceased. This thesis asserts that, as a family firm, Gardner traded profitably and provided incomes for thousands of employees for more than a century. Moreover, the sale to Hawker Siddeley conferred wealth on the family shareholders and financial security on their descendents. Gardner was not therefore, a failure either between 1898 and 1955, or before 1978.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: PhD thesis.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: University of Bolton theses > University of Bolton theses - History
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:50
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2014 18:10
URI: http://ubir.bolton.ac.uk/id/eprint/263

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