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Title: A business history of Alex Cowan & sons LTD, papermakers, 1779-1975
Author: Ding, Ying Yong
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 4738
Awarding Body: University of the West of Scotland
Current Institution: University of the West of Scotland
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis provides, for the first time, a history of Alex. Cowan & Sons Ltd., one of Scotland's most famous papermaking companies. The firm was family-run for most of the period 1779 until 1965, the year it was taken over by Reed Paper Group, which closed it in 1975. The thesis begins with an outline of the firm's history, after which its various management functions are analysed over time. It reveals that the family influence was crucial in sustaining the firm's performance over a period of almost 200 years, during which the paper industry and paper consumption continued to expand, but in conditions of increasing national and international competition. Family control enabled decision making in the business to take place informally and quickly. The need for capital for expansion after World War Two resulted in the flotation of the company's shares in 1951, but family influence was still considerable until the takeover of 1965. The thesis discloses the very strong effects on the business of the Presbyterian faith held by the Cowan family, especially apparent up until the First World War years. The family's faith also accounts for the firm's excellent treatment of workers and the good facilities provided for them. The firm's early financial systems are innovative, and are carefully developed and efficient at every stage of its history. The firm's 'Protestant Work Ethic' also ensured that capital was reinvested both in the latest technology and in expansion at home and overseas. Sales and marketing was developed early in the firm and highly efficient across its life. The thesis produces a qualitative model of the firm's strategic processes, and sets its takeover and eventual closure in the context of the gradual decline of the British and Scottish papermaking industries, but making it clear that it was, over its life, a highly successful family firm.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available