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Strategic responses to low-cost competition; technological lock-in in the Dundee jute industry

Masrani, Swapnesh and McKiernan, Peter and McKinlay, Alan (2018) Strategic responses to low-cost competition; technological lock-in in the Dundee jute industry. Business History. ISSN 0007-6791

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Abstract

This paper examines path dependency and technological lock-in in the evolution of the Dundee jute industry, from its beginnings in the 1860s to its demise in the 1970s. The evolution of the industry is explored using the resource-based view of the firm (RBV). The results suggest that the nature and construct of jute fibre was the root cause of a lack of sustainable strategic responses in the sector. Path dependent decisions and technological lock-in meant that many firms were not able to make successful strategic switches, although the capabilities of their engineering skills allowed some firms to endure for longer. Thus, the paper extends the RBV to a deeper firm capability level and complements cognate literature on the UK textile sector with a finer specification of the phases in jute’s evolution.