Publications & highlights

Discussion papers

From 2016, The CIBH Discussion Paper Series will be integrated with John H. Dunning Centre Discussion paper series on International Business.

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    Strategic Trade Policy, Competition and Welfare: The Case of Voluntary Export Restraints between Britain and Japan (1971–2002)

    Professor James Walker

    Series Reference: IBH-2015-01

    We evaluate the voluntary export restraint (VER) placed on Japanese automobile exports from 1977 to 1999 by the UK. We show that the policy failed to assist the British domestic car industry. Instead, UK-based US multinationals and Japanese manufacturers were the primary beneficiaries, at a substantial cost to UK consumers. While there are a number of caveats, the policy was on balance damaging to the UK economy in welfare terms.

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    The Service Cost – Unit Value Retail Continuum and the Demise of the American ‘Five and Dime’ Variety Store, 1914–1941

    Professor Peter Scott, Professor James Walker

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-02

    We examine a classic ‘wheel of retailing’ episode – the abandonment of the five and dime pricing formula by American variety chains. Variety stores moved from a conventional product lifecycle, focusing on cost reduction through standardisation, to an inverse movement up the ‘service cost - unit value’ continuum. We show that, rather than reflecting deteriorating managerial acumen, this was a response to market saturation in their low price niche. However, rapid changes in retailing methods entailed significant risks, while - even where these were successfully negotiated - higher sales came at the cost of lower margins and an erosion of competitive advantage.

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    Hollywood Studios, Independent Producers and International Markets: Globalisation and the US Film Industry c.1950–1965

    Professor Peter Miskell, Yunge Li

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-07

    This paper examines the internationalisation of Hollywood entertainment in the period c.1949-1965. Two observations are commonly made about the US motion picture industry in this period. The first is that the era witnessed the ‘disintegration’ of the studio system, with the major
    vertically integrated ‘studios’ forced to sell off their cinema chains and also becoming increasingly reliant on ‘independent’ producers to supply their product. The second is that the period saw US producers and distributors become increasingly reliant on foreign markets as a source of revenue. This paper analyses the 665 films released internationally in this period by Warner Bros. and MGM, for which reliable financial data is available from surviving studio ledgers. It examines the foreign revenues earned by these films, and compares this with the 'international orientation’ of the pictures themselves (an international orientation index is constructed on the basis of each film’s setting, characters, stars and other creative inputs). The paper finds that the growing importance of foreign markets for US distributors was reflected in the balance of their film portfolios, with an increasing proportion of films with a strong international orientation as the period progressed. The evidence also indicates that independent producers, rather than major studios themselves, were increasingly responsible for the production of this internationally oriented product. Finally, the paper examines the geographical locations where these internationally oriented films were set, and compares this with the international distribution of film revenues for the major studios. Certain national locations were clearly more commonly used as film settings than others, and such differences cannot be simply be explained by their relative value as film markets.

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    Hollywood Films and Foreign Markets in the Studio Era: A Fresh Look at the Evidence

    Professor Peter Miskell

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-08

    The international appeal of Hollywood films through the twentieth century has been a subject of interest to economic and film historians alike. This paper employs some of the methods of the economic historian to evaluate key arguments within the film history literature explaining the global success of American films. Through careful analysis of both existing and newly constructed datasets, the paper examines the extent to which Hollywood’s foreign earnings were affected by: film production costs; the extent of global distribution networks, and also the international orientation of the films themselves. The paper finds that these factors influenced foreign earnings in quite distinct ways, and that their relative importance changed over time. The evidence presented here suggests a degree of interaction between the production and distribution arms of the major US film companies in their pursuit of foreign markets that would benefit from further archival-based investigation.

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    Constructing Corporate Identity before the Corporation: Fashioning the Face of the First English Joint Stock Banking Companies

    Victoria Barnes, Dr Lucy Newton

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-06

    The article considers how the first joint-stock banks established themselves as a new form of banking that would ultimately, by the end of the nineteenth century, dominate the domestic banking system in England and Wales. We undertake a new investigation of the portraits of senior bank staff. It adds to the literature focusing on corporate identity. Visual representations form part of a corporate identity, which in turn is linked to the building of a reputation. Jointstock banks, as new entrants and a new type of financial institution, faced fierce opposition. Portraiture, as a well-established art form, projected a historical legacy that did not, as yet, exist. Through portraiture, banks solidified and added to the sitter’s social standing and signalled the new institution’s reputation for high culture, power and professionalism to those viewing these works within a localised social hierarchy and business environment.

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    British Working-class Household Composition, Labour Supply and Commercial Leisure Participation during the 1930s

    Professor Peter Scott, Professor James Walker, Professor Peter Miskell

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-03

    The early twentieth century constituted the heyday of the ‘breadwinner-homemaker’ household, characterised by a high degree of intra-household functional specialization between paid and domestic work according to age, gender, and marital status. This paper examines the links between formal workforce participation and access to resources for individualized discretionary spending in British working-class households during the late 1930s, via an analysis of household leisure expenditures. Leisure spending is particularly salient to intra-household resource allocation, as it constitutes one of the most highly prioritized areas of individualized expenditure, especially for young, single people. Using a database compiled from surviving returns to the Ministry of Labour’s national 1937/38 working-class expenditure survey, we examine leisure participation rates for over 600 households, using a detailed set of commercial leisure activities together with other relevant variables. We find that the employment status of family members other than the male breadwinner was a key factor influencing their access to commercial leisure. Our analysis thus supports the view that the breadwinner-homemaker household was characterised by strong power imbalances, that concentrated resources - especially for individualized expenditures - in the hands of those family members who engaged in paid labour.

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    Demonstrating Distinction at ‘the Lowest Edge of the Black-coated Class’: The Family Expenditures of Edwardian Railway Clerks

    Professor Peter Scott, Professor James Walker

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-04

    Families at the bottom end of the Edwardian white-collar income spectrum demonstrated middle-class status through observable consumption, at the cost of squeezing other expenditures, including ‘necessities’. This had negative economic impacts, lowering living standards due to inefficiently high budget shares for positional goods. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, we examine how railway clerks sought to demonstrate ‘distinction’ from manual workers through certain conspicuous expenditures and how this strategy was progressively undermined by falling real incomes over the Edwardian period.

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    Producer-driven Supply Chains for Inter-war Entertainment Radio: Were Dealers ‘Over-sold’ on Marketing?

    Professor Peter Scott, Professor James Walker

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-05

    We examine early supply chains for entertainment radio sets. Manufacturers sought to coordinate down-stream distribution to maximise profits and create barriers to entry. Lacking the market power of auto manufacturers, they developed cooperative strategies using authorised distributors and dealers who were incentivised to follow the manufacturer’s policy. This included home demonstration – which dealers increasingly perceived to benefit only the upstream value chain. Our analysis indicates that while dealer revenue from direct selling was largely negated by increased costs, it constituted one of several barriers to entry, which underpinned the competitive advantage of the specialist dealer.

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    The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree: English Bank Regulation and Branching Strategies in the Nineteenth Century

    Dr Lucy Newton, Victoria Barnes

    Series Reference: IBH-2014-01

    After the Bank Charter Act in 1833, English banks could branch nationally without legal or geographical restriction. Many new joint stock banks took this opportunity to branch and thus created the foundation for modern branch banking in the UK. Drawing upon a new dataset, this article maps the locations of joint-stock banks and their branches. Bank size and spread demonstrate that many branched vigorously but stopped at the creation of local or multiregional structures. Our research shows that branching strategies were influenced by ‘soft’ Parliamentary pressure (but not regulation), prominent branch bank failures and a lack of managerial expertise.

    Keywords
    banks, strategy, branches, regulation, management

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