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A business history of the Gramophone Company Ltd 1897-1918



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Martland, Peter 


This dissertation examines the creation and development of one of the earliest yet least know components of the past century's revolution in communications - the sound recording industry. The work seeks to answer a number of questions concerning the sound recording industry including how it was created in the United States and Europe; how markets and manufacturing facilities were established; and , reviewing the industry over the two decades before 1918, the extent of its success and permanence. To give the work a focus and sense of coherence, the main body takes the form of a business history of a single enterprise , an industrial pioneer and British-based multinational enterprise, the Gramophone Company Ltd. The Company is surveyed from its formation in 1897 to 1918.
This dissertation is divided into four parts.

Part One examines invention, innovation, and market formation in the U.S.A. and Europe Part Two surveys the Gramophone Company. Issues examined include Company formation, the role and functions of management and Board of Directors; the Company's multinational trade; the problem of managing overseas branches and the various attempts made to create an organisation and a new management structure capable of controlling such branches; the extent of Company dependence of profit from overseas branches; branch performance; and a survey of two branches - those in Russia and Britain. The Gramophone Company's links with an important American Affiliate are also examined, as is the Company's shift from marketing to both manufacturing and selling. In order to understand these changes, developments in the Company's organisation and structure are analysed, as are Company finances, profitability, dividends and share price, long term viability, and plans for growth. Part Three looks at the Gramophone Company's contribution to the creation of sound recording as new art form and its role in the growing popularisation of the performing arts. Part Four examines the impact of the 1914-18 War on the Gramophone Company and the wider industry, and explains its survival and subsequent expansion.





Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge