Joe Lane presents a paper at the ABH Conference in Sheffield Hallam University

1 July 2019

Dr Joe Lane will present a paper titled: ‘The organisation of a district in flux: the North Staffordshire Potteries 1780-1851’ at the ABH annual conference on 5-6th July 2019, at Sheffield Hallam University.

The paper abstract can be found below:

During the period 1750-1850 the North Staffordshire ‘Potteries’ district was characterised by a growing body of useful and practical knowledge about the materials, processes and skills required to produce local goods that sold in global markets. The district is exceptional because it did not fully experience the terminal phase of its life-cycle until the late twentieth century. It was also particularly successful during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with a sustained dominance and intensity of production with dynamic competition under conditions of intense social and physical proximity. In a highly concentrated industry in which important knowledge could not easily be codified or reverse engineered, this suggests a complex pattern of knowledge creation and sharing at both the firm and district level.

This paper uses trade directories and business accounts to construct a new database of pottery firms in the district from the later eighteenth century to the mid nineteenth century. It addresses the relationship between the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, and the organisational strategies of firms in the district over time and allows us to examine how firms in clusters respond to shocks effectively. Analysis of the taxonomy of firms operating enables us to illustrate the location of firms, the degree of spatial concentration, and how these changed over time alongside changes in the wider economic environment. This paper also examines the competitive and cooperative strategies of firms developing within the context of intense spatial and social proximity by identifying patterns in partnership preferences between producers.




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