Professor Peter Scott

Professor of International Business History

Professor Peter Scott

Professor Peter Scott

International Business and Strategy
By area: Consumption, owner-occupation, household behaviour, retailing, consumer goods industries, path dependence, technical change
By industry: Retailing, housing, consumer goods industries
By geography: UK, USA, Europe
HBS 150, Whiteknights campus
+44 (0) 118 378 5435
View publications


Peter Scott is Professor of International Business History at Henley Business School, University of Reading and a former President of the Association of Business Historians. His research interests include: the growth of mass consumption, consumer credit and owner-occupation, together with their impacts on household behaviour; the evolution of mass retailing formats in Britain and the United States; the development of consumer goods industries; and path dependence and technological change.

His monograph Triumph of the South: A Regional Economic History of Britain During the Early Twentieth Century (Aldershot: Ashgate) was awarded the Wadsworth Prize for the best monograph in British business history published in 2007. A further monograph, The Making of the Modern British Home: Suburbanisation and its Impact on Working-class Family Life Between the Wars, published by Oxford U.P. in October 2013 was the subject of a Henley Business School public lecture on 12th February 2014.

Additional Information

Study and Research Skills: Sources, Methods, and Practice (MMM070)

Introduction to Thesis Literature Review (MMM098)

MBA Business Project (MWM014)

MBA Dissertation (MWM015)

Study skills for managers (MWM013)


Teacher on EC243 (Economic History).



Scott, P.Walker, J. and Miskell, P. (2015) British working-class household composition, labour supply, and commercial leisure participation during the 1930s. Economic History Review, 68 (2). pp. 657-682. ISSN 1468-0289 doi:10.1111/ehr.12074

Scott, P. and Walker, J. (2015) Demonstrating distinction at ‘the lowest edge of the black-coated class’: the family expenditures of Edwardian railway clerks. Business History, 57 (4). pp. 564-588. ISSN 1743-7938 doi:10.1080/00076791.2014.965384

Scott, P. (2014) When innovation becomes inefficient: reexamining Britain's radio industry. Business History Review, 88 (3). pp. 497-521. ISSN 2044-768X doi: 10.1017/S0007680514000415

Scott, P. M. and Walker, J. (2012) Working-class household consumption smoothing in interwar Britain. The Journal of Economic History, 72 (3). pp. 797-825. ISSN 1471-6372 doi: 10.1017/S002205071200037X

Scott, P. and Newton, L. A. (2012) Advertising, promotion, and the rise of a national building society movement in interwar Britain. Business History, 54 (3). pp. 399-423. ISSN 1743-7938 doi: 10.1080/00076791.2011.638489

Scott, P. (2012) The determinants of competitive success in the interwar British radio industry. Economic History Review, 65 (4). pp. 1303-1325. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2011.00647.x

Scott, P. and Walker, J. (2012) The British ‘failure’ that never was? The Anglo-American ‘productivity gap’ in large-scale interwar retailing—evidence from the department store sector. Economic History Review, 65 (1). pp. 277-303. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00583.x

Scott, P. and Spadavecchia, A. (2011) Did the 48-hour week damage Britain's industrial competitiveness? Economic History Review, 64 (4). pp. 1266-1288. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00590.x

Scott, P. and Walker, J. (2011) Power to the people: working-class demand for household power in 1930s Britain.Oxford Economic Papers, 63 (4). pp. 598-624. ISSN 1464-3812 doi: 10.1093/oep/gpr012

Scott, P. M. and Walker, J. (2011) Sales and advertising expenditure for interwar American department stores. The Journal of Economic History, 71 (1). pp. 40-69. ISSN 1471-6372 doi: 10.1017/S0022050711000027

Scott, P. (2011) Still a niche communications medium: the diffusion and uses of the telephone system in interwar Britain. Business History, 53 (6). pp. 801-820. ISSN 1743-7938 doi: 10.1080/00076791.2011.578131

Gazeley, I., Newell, A. and Scott, P. (2011) Why was urban overcrowding much more severe in Scotland than in the rest of the British Isles? Evidence from the first (1904) official household expenditure survey. European Review of Economic History, 15 (1). pp. 127-151. ISSN 1474-0044 doi: 10.1017/S1361491610000195

Scott, P. M. and Walker, J. T. (2010) Advertising, promotion, and the competitive advantage of interwar British department stores. Economic History Review, 63 (4). pp. 1105-1128. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00535.x

Scott, P. (2009) Mr Drage, Mr Everyman, and the creation of a mass market for domestic furniture in interwar Britain.Economic History Review, 62 (4). pp. 802-827. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2009.00480.x

Scott, P. (2008) Did owner-occupation lead to smaller families for interwar working-class households. Economic History Review, 61 (1). pp. 99-124. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2007.00390.x

Scott, P. (2008) Marketing mass home ownership and the creation of the modern working-class consumer in inter-war Britain. Business History, 50 (1). pp. 4-25. ISSN 1743-7938 doi: 10.1080/00076790701785581

Scott, P. (2008) Managing door-to-door sales of vacuum cleaners in interwar Britain. Business History Review, 82 (4). pp. 761-788. ISSN 2044-768X

Scott, P. and Newton, L. (2007) Jealous monopolists? British banks and responses to the Macmillan gap during the 1930s. Enterprise & Society, 8 (4). pp. 881-919. ISSN 1467-2235 doi: 10.1093/es/khm104

Scott, P. (2006) Path dependence, fragmented property rights and the slow diffusion of high throughput technologies in inter-war British coal mining. Business History, 48 (1). pp. 20-42. ISSN 1743-7938 doi:10.1080/00076790500204693

Scott, P. and Walsh, P. (2005) New manufacturing plant formation, clustering and locational externalities in 1930s Britain. Business History, 47 (2). pp. 190-218. ISSN 1743-7938

Scott, P. and Walsh, P. (2004) Patterns and determinants of manufacturing plant location in interwar London.Economic History Review, 57 (1). pp. 109-141. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/j.0013-0017.2004.00274.x

Scott, P. (2004) Public sector investment and Britain's post-war economic performance: a case study of roads policy.Journal of European Economic History, 34 (2). pp. 391-418. ISSN 0391-5115

Scott, P. (2004) Sources on communities of British manufacturing plans and their activities. Business Archives Sources and History, 88. pp. 25-30.

Scott, P. (2002) The twilight world of interwar British hire purchase. Past & Present, 177 (1). pp. 195-225. ISSN 1477-464X doi: 10.1093/past/177.1.195

Rooth, T. and Scott, P. (2002) British public policy and multinationals during the “Dollar Gap” era, 1945–1960.Enterprise & Society, 3 (1). pp. 124-161. ISSN 1467-2235 doi: 10.1093/es/3.1.124

Scott, P. (2002) British railways and the challenge from road haulage: 1919-39. Twentieth Century British History, 13 (2). pp. 101-120. ISSN 1477-4674 doi: 10.1093/tcbh/13.2.101

Scott, P. (2002) Towards the "cult of the equity"? Insurance companies and the interwar capital market. Economic History Review, 55 (1). pp. 78-104. ISSN 1468-0289 doi: 10.1111/1468-0289.00215

Scott, P. (2001) Path dependence and Britain’s "coal wagon problem". Explorations in Economic History, 38 (3). pp. 366-385. ISSN 0014-4983

Scott, P. (2001) Industrial estates and British industrial development: 1897-1939. Business History, 43 (2). pp. 73-98. ISSN 1743-7938 doi: 10.1080/713999223

Lizieri, C.Baum, A. and Scott, P. (2000) Ownership, occupation and risk: a view of the City of London office market.Urban Studies, 37 (7). pp. 1109-1129. ISSN 1360-063X doi: 10.1080/00420980020080041

Scott, P. (2000) The state, internal migration, and the growth of new industrial communities in inter-war Britain.English Historical Review, 115 (461). pp. 329-353. ISSN 1477-4534 doi: 10.1093/ehr/115.461.329

Scott, P. and Judge, G. (2000) Cycles and steps in British commercial property values. Applied Economics, 32 (10). pp. 1287-1297. ISSN 1466-4283 doi: 10.1080/000368400404443

Scott, P. and Rooth, T. (2000) Protectionism and the growth of overseas multinational enterprise in interwar Britain.Journal of Industrial History, 3 (2).

Scott, P. (2000) Women, other "fresh” workers, and the new manufacturing workforce of interwar Britain. International Review of Social History, 45 (3). pp. 449-474. ISSN 1469-512X

Scott, P. (2000) The audit of regional policy: 1934-1939. Regional Studies, 34 (1). pp. 55-65. ISSN 1360-0591 doi:10.1080/00343400050005880

Scott, P. and Reid, C. (2000) "The white slavery of the motor world”: opportunism in the interwar road haulage industry. Social History, 25 (3). pp. 300-315. ISSN 1470-1200 doi: 10.1080/03071020050143338

Scott, P. and Rooth, T. (1999) Public policy and foreign-based enterprises in Britain prior to the Second World War. The Historical Journal, 42 (2). pp. 495-515. ISSN 1469-5103

Scott, P. (1999) The efficiency of Britain's "silly little bobtailed" coal wagons: a comment on Van Vleck. The Journal of Economic History, 59 (4). pp. 1072-1080. ISSN 1471-6372 doi: 10.1017/S0022050700024153



Scott P. The Making of the British Home: The Suburban Semi and Family Life Between the

Wars (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2013), 288 pages.

Scott, P. (2007) Triumph of the south: a regional economic history of early twentieth century Britain. Modern Economic and Social History. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp344. ISBN 9781840146134

Scott, P. (1996), The Property Masters: A history of the British commercial property sector. London, Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0419209508


Book chapters

Scott, P. (2014), The Household Economy since 1870. In Roderick Floud, Jane Humphries and Paul Jonhson (eds.) The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain: Volume 2, 1870 to the Present. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 362-386. ISBN 1107686733.

Scott, P. (2009) From a solution to a problem? Overseas multinationals in Britain during economic decline and renaissance. In: Coopey, R. and Lyth, P. (eds.) Business in Britain in the twentieth century: decline and renaissance? Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 116-136. ISBN 9780199226009 doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.003.0007

Scott, P. (2007) Consumption, consumer credit cards and the diffusion of consumer durables. In: Carnevali, F., Strange, J.-M. and Johnson, P. (eds.) 20th century Britain: economic, cultural and social change. 2nd edition. Longman, Harlow. ISBN 9780582772878

Scott, P. (2004) Regional development and policy. In: Floud, R. and Johnson, P. (eds.) The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 332-367. ISBN 9780521527385 (Structural change and growth, 1939–2000)

Scott, P. (2001) The evolution of Britain's urban built environment. In: Daunton, M. (ed.) Volume 3 (1840–1950). The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Cambridge University Press, pp. 495-524. ISBN 9780521417075


Peter has presented papers at the conferences of all the major UK, American, European, and international economic or business history societies. 

Contributions to radio and TV programmes

Contributor to PBS documentary Secrets of Selfridges (first broadcast 2013)

Historical consultant for the Blakeway TV documentary A Tale of Two Britains (first broadcast on BBC4, Wednesday 21st October 2009).

Featured historian on two episodes of Radio 4’s The Long View:

  • British brands, American takeovers: Boots and Cadbury, first broadcast March 1910, available here
  • Retail Difficulties: Gamages in 1930, first broadcast December 2008, available here  

Contributor to several other radio programmes, including Broadcasting House, and PM.