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Continuity and change in the Sheffield armaments industry 1919-1930

Chris Corker (The York Management School, University of York, York, UK)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




This article aims to explore the impact of the Great War on the Sheffield armaments industry through the use of four company case studies in Thomas Firth, John Brown, Cammell Laird and Hadfields. It charts the evolving situation the armaments companies found themselves in after the end of the conflict and the uncertain external environment they had to engage with. The article also examines the stagnant nature of armaments companies’ boards of directors in the 1920s and the ultimate rationalisation of the industry at the close of the decade.


The research design is based around a close examination of the surviving manuscript records of each of the companies included, the records of the speeches recorded by chairpersons at annual meetings and some governmental records.


The article concludes by outlining how the end of the Great War continued to affect the industry for the following decade and the complex evolving situation with a changing external environment and continuity of management internally ultimately leading to mergers in the industry.


This article uses a number of underused manuscript records to examine the Sheffield armaments industry and explores the effect of a global mega event in the Great War on one of the most technologically advanced industries of the period.



Corker, C. (2018), "Continuity and change in the Sheffield armaments industry 1919-1930", Journal of Management History, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 174-188.



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