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The emergence of regional industrial policy in Britain, the case of Wales, 1939 to 1947

Gooberman, Leon ORCID: 2023. The emergence of regional industrial policy in Britain, the case of Wales, 1939 to 1947. Enterprise & Society: The International Journal of Business History 10.1017/eso.2023.44

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From the 1940s to the 1970s British Governments steered manufacturing businesses to peripheral regions designated as needing more employment. This approach was delivered through a Regional Policy that deployed industrial location controls and financial incentives. Effectiveness varied over time but was dramatic in the mid-1940s when it boosted the regional stock of secondary manufacturing to the extent that its legacy remains visible today. The literature describes how Regional Policy was a peacetime policy, albeit one formulated during the war. This article, however, proposes that the initial and most successful phase of Regional Policy was an extension of wartime policies governing regional manufacturing businesses producing munitions. It uses a case study of Wales to make two arguments. One is that the Regional Policy associated with the post-war period began to be implemented before the war had ended. The other is that the Board of Trade pursued the policy through repurposed wartime governance mechanisms within an economy that remained subject to onerous state controls. The case outlines a short but consequential burst of assertive state involvement that shaped business activity throughout much of regional Britain, echoing Scranton and Fridenson’s arguments as to ‘the state always being in’ given its role in shaping markets, business behaviour, and regulations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1467-2227
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 October 2023
Date of Acceptance: 6 October 2023
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2023 15:15

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