By P L Payne
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Additional info for British Entrepreneurship in the Nineteenth Century
Can one then employ the concept of export market shares? Hardly, in a period when Britain was virtually in a monopolistic position, en joying the benefits of an early start. It might be possible to analyse deviations from what is apparently best practice in particular industries, though here one runs the real danger of equating 'best' with 'most recent'. It is enough to say that at this juncture there is insufficient information to assess mid-Victorian entrepreneurship in any meaningful sense. Some firms which traced their origins to the Industrial Revolution were declining in relative importance; some were disappearing altogether; others were crowding in to take their chances in both old and new fields of enterprise.
He makes it plain that their very real commercial and technological successes have been generally underestimated [87; 88; 89; 141 ]. ) that really hard evidence of entrepreneurial failure was remarkably elusive. Indeed, in an extremely perceptive paper which deserves reprinting in a more generally accessible source, Sigsworth, faced with this survey of British manufacturing industry, asked ' ... can we still continue to generalise with such certainty about the characteristics of "the British entrepreneur" between 1870 and 1914?
This often inhibited the continuous promotion of specific products; the agent varying his effort in accordance with the relative saleability of the lines he represented in order to maximise his own income rather than the sales of the products of any one of his 42 clients. Indeed, there is a possibility that a commission agent will deliberately refrain from maximising sales volume for fear that he will be replaced by a salesman when a certain level of business has been obtained. The inherent weaknesses involved in the use of commission agents were greater in overseas than in domestic trade where, because of distance, language difficulties and unfamiliarity with the market, the manufacturer had even less control over the agent sales force than at home.