The salient features of the history of a great industrial company are most readily brought within focus by a study of the evolution of its managerial policy. The preceding chapters have shown that even in the case of a firm like Rolls-Royce the polished phrases of the published balance sheet often conceal long periods of struggle and crisis. The consistent declaration of an almost uniform dividend is no easy achievement and those who are most critical of the management of such enterprises have usually had little experience of the heavy responsibility and strain of industrial administration. The success of Rolls-Royce as a manufacturing concern in the inter-war years — for by any standards of comparison no other word but success will suffice — was none the less a success on balance. The achievements heavily outweighed the failures, although there was both achievement and failure in all spheres — design, development, production and administration. But the company succeeded in maintaining the exacting reputation of its products, in the case of the aero-engine by a handsome, in that of the motor-car by a rather narrow, margin. The discussion of chassis costs has shown that this margin was never entirely within the control of the firm and that it was being narrowed by the external circumstances of technical and industrial evolution rather than by any failure in an absolute sense upon the part of the firm’s technicians and executives, who were probably amongst the first in the British engineering industry to realise the extent to which British industry was already, between the wars, living on its reserves of skill, enterprise and investment.
KeywordsEurope Income Coherence Expense Toll
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