Business and Economic Performance since 1945: Britain in International Context

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Peter Cirenza STC.S481


This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History, BSc in Economics with Economic History, BSc in Human Resource Management and Employment Relations and BSc in Management. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course looks at the history of British business and industry, with an emphasis on the post-war period. It examines some of the hypotheses on why the UK economy grew more slowly than other OECD nations with particular reference to the decades after the Second World War. Explanations of relative economic decline are examined in the context of comparisons with other European nations and with the US and Japan. The main attention is on recent decades, including current changes in performance, but the historical roots of Britain's poor performance are also considered. The focus is on business performance in the public and private sectors, including scale effects, multinationals' comparative performance, technology, labour management and management quality. Other factors alleged to have contributed to Britain's poor performance, ranging from 'culture' through government policy to education and trade unions, are also discussed.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

During the course students are expected to write four essays or equivalent pieces of written work.

Indicative reading

The course textbook is: Geoffrey Owen, From Empire to Europe: The Decline and Revival of British Industry since the Second World War. The following are also useful: R Floud & P Johnson (Eds), The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, Vol III (3rd edn, 2004), chapters 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15; N F R Crafts & N Woodward (Eds), The British Economy since 1945 (1991); M Dintenfass, The Decline of Industrial Britain 1870-1980; B Elbaum & W Lazonick (Eds), The Decline of the British Economy (1986); S N Broadberry, The Productivity Race: British Manufacturing in International Perspective, 1850-1990 (1997).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Teachers' comment

Survey questions on feedback to students may be non-informative because assessed work comes later in the term than the survey.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2012/13: 62

Average class size 2012/13: 14

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills