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Title: Vivian and Sons, 1809-1924 : a study of the firm in the copper and related industries
Author: Toomey, R. R.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1980
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This study describes the growth of Vivian and Sons and analyses the major influences on that growth; particular emphasis is placed on the role of entrepreneurship in the development of the business. Established as a modest copper smelting operation in 1809, Vivian and Sons grew irto a leading smelting house by 1820. Thereafter the firm vertically integrated into related activities such as copper manufacture and rolling (c.1820-1850) and diversified into the production of a range of non-ferrous metals and chemicals (c.1840-1880). By the 1870s, the firm employed a capital of over £1 million. Vivian and Sons stagnated in the late 19th century and declined in the early 20th century. In 1924 it merged into British Copper Manufacturers Limited, which was taken over by Yorkshire Imperial Metals in 1926. The interaction of external forces such as demand and supply of factors of production and the responses and policies of the firm's decision makers is examined. Demand for non-ferrous metal products was generally conducive to the firm's growth, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th century. Furnace material was in abundant supply from U.K. sources up to about 1860 and thereafter the discovery of ore bodies in North and South America maintained a satisfactory supply of ore material for international trade. The supply of capital and labour was adequate throughout the firm's history. The growth of Vivian and Sons can be closely identified with the three entrepreneurial decisions: John Vivian's decision to enter copper smelting established the firm in an industry with growth potential; John Henry Vivian's decision to integrate vertically their activities, increased the firm's security and scale; Henry Hussey Vivian's decision to diversify into new areas of production exploited a number of profitable opportunities. These entrepreneurs commanded managerial, technological and marketing skills, which together with personal qualities of diligence and self-denial supported the firm's progress. The stagnation and decline of the firm in later years, despite a generally favourable business environment, can be attributed to the lack of entrepreneurial skills by the Vivian family at that time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available