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Why Nations Fail: Managerial Decisions and Performance in Indian Cotton Textiles, 1890–1938


  • Wolcott, Susan
  • Clark, Gregory


Between 1890 and 1938 Japan experienced rapid economic growth. India stagnated. This national divergence was reflected in the performance of both countries' leading modern industiy, cotton textiles. The parallels between national and industry performance suggest the problems of the Indian textile industry may have been those of India as a whole. Weak management is widely blamed for poor performance in textiles. An analysis of managerial decisions in Bombay shows, however, that on all measurable dimensions Indian managers performed as well as they could. The problem instead was one factor they could not change—the effort levels of Indian workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolcott, Susan & Clark, Gregory, 1999. "Why Nations Fail: Managerial Decisions and Performance in Indian Cotton Textiles, 1890–1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(2), pages 397-423, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:59:y:1999:i:02:p:397-423_02

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Labour repression & the Indo-Japanese divergence
      by pseudoerasmus in Pseudoerasmus on 2017-10-02 06:04:55


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    Cited by:

    1. Bishnupriya Gupta, 2011. "Wages, unions, and labour productivity: evidence from Indian cotton mills," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64, pages 76-98, February.
    2. Roy, Tirthankar, 2021. "Useful & reliable: technological transformation in colonial India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 113442, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "Growth economics and reality," Working papers 24, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    4. Roberto Bonfatti & Björn Brey, 2020. "Trade Disruption, Industrialisation, and the Setting Sun of British Colonial Rule in India," CESifo Working Paper Series 8461, CESifo.
    5. Matthew McCartney, 2014. "The Political Economy of Industrial Policy: A Comparative Study of the Textiles Industry in Pakistan," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 19(Special E), pages 105-134, September.
    6. Stephen Broadberry & Steve Hindle, 2011. "Editors’ introduction," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(s1), pages 1-7, February.
    7. Robert C. Allen, 2008. "A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 946-973, December.
    8. Mukherjee, Anirban & Sen, Shankhajit, 2022. "Social fragmentation and productivity in colonial India," SocArXiv zmfjn, Center for Open Science.
    9. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2005. "Social interactions and macroeconomics," Working papers 5, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    10. Stephen Broadberry & Steve Hindle, 2011. "Editors’ introduction," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64, pages 1-7, February.
    11. Aditi Dixit & Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, 2022. "Supply of labour during early industrialisation: Agricultural systems, textile factory work and gender in Japan and India, ca. 1880–1940," The Indian Economic & Social History Review, , vol. 59(2), pages 223-255, April.
    12. Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato, 2007. "The Political Economy of Protectionism: The Mexican Textile Industry, 1900-1950," NBER Chapters, in: The Decline of Latin American Economies: Growth, Institutions, and Crises, pages 363-406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Elena Kulchina, 2016. "A path to value creation for foreign entrepreneurs," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(7), pages 1240-1262, July.

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