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Were British railway companies well-managed in the early twentieth century?

Crafts, Nicholas, Leunig, Tim and Mulatu, Abay (2007) Were British railway companies well-managed in the early twentieth century? Working papers in large-scale technological change (10/07). Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This paper examines major privately-owned British railway companies before World War I. Quantitative evidence is presented on return on capital employed, total factor productivity growth, cost inefficiency, and speed of passenger services. There were discrepancies in performance across companies but ROCE and TFP typically fell during our period. Cost inefficiency rose before 1900 but then was brought under control as a profits collapse loomed. Without the discipline of either strong competition or effective regulation, managerial failure was common. This sector is an important qualification to the conventional wisdom that late-Victorian Britain did not fail.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
T Technology > TF Railroad engineering and operation
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
JEL classification: L - Industrial Organization > L9 - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities > L92 - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation: Autos, Buses, Trucks, and Water Carriers; Ports
N - Economic History > N7 - Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services > N73 - Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2009 14:34
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:42
Projects: 2394/R000239536
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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