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By Michael Dintenfass

Michael Dintenfass offers a difficult account of Britain's monetary functionality given that 1870. He combines a succinct, clearly-written survey of contemporary scholarly paintings in British fiscal and enterprise historical past with an unique interpretive replacement to the institutionalized money owed of Britain's relative decline. Dintenfass addresses either in particular monetary questions and socio-historical inquiries to position Britain's financial heritage in its broadest context.

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Secondary schools and colleges and universities have never received adequate support, and access to them has remained quite limited. Vocational training of a technical sort has taken a backseat to academically-oriented schooling and to general secondary education. Provision at the university level for those subjects A QUESTION OF SKILL 37 most relevant to modern industrial realities—science and technology and economics and business administration—has regularly fallen short of that made by Britain’s principal competitors.

Management’s authority over production methods, personnel deployment, manning levels, and worker effort seemed tenuous. Shop stewards attained prominence and notoriety. Labor productivity in the industry trailed behind that abroad, as we have seen, and there is some evidence connecting this with the numerous and sometimes lengthy stoppages to which the manufacturers were subjected (Knight 1989:369). Moreover, comparative studies of British and overseas car-making facilities that attempted to control product mix, capital equipment, and the age of tools found that British production was inefficient even where machinery of similar type and vintage was used to turn out the same models (Nichols 1986:45–50 and ch.

First of all, the argument has limited chronological applicability. The mass unemployment that persisted in Britain throughout the interwar years—and which was concentrated in precisely those industries where skilled workers and their craft unions were most strongly entrenched—effectively undermined the capacity of craftsmen to defend established norms and customs. Similarly, there is considerable evidence that workers in Britain did not constrain the choice of production techniques in the decades preceding the slump.

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