Solvay: History of a Multinational Family Firm

Solvay: History of a Multinational Family Firm

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Kenneth Bertrams, Nicolas Coupain, Ernst Homburg
Cambridge University Press
Edition: Illustrated, 1/3/2013
EAN 9781107024809, ISBN10: 1107024803

Hardcover, 650 pages, 23.4 x 15.6 x 4 cm
Language: English

Ernest Solvay, philanthropist and organizer of the world-famous Solvay conferences on physics, discovered a profitable way of making soda ash in 1861. Together with a handful of associates, he laid the foundations of the Solvay company, which successfully branched out into other chemicals, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Since its emergence in 1863, Solvay has maintained world leadership in the production of soda ash. This is the first scholarly book on the history of the Solvay company, which was one of the earliest chemical multinationals and today is among the world's twenty largest chemical companies. It is also one of the largest companies in the field to preserve its family character. The authors analyze the company's 150-year history (1863–2013) from economic, political and social perspectives, showing the enormous impact geopolitical events had on the company and the recent consequences of global competition.

Part I. The Pioneering Years (1863–1914)
The Quest for a Leadership and the First Stages of the Internationalization
1. First steps
when vision and reality meet
2. A multinational pioneer
3. Reaching a dominant position
4. Labor organization, social policy, and societal vision
5. The consolidation of power
6. Conclusion of Part I
Part II. The Years of Crisis (1914–50)
The Making and Unmaking of International Alliances
7. The multiple fronts of World War One
8. From ashes, 1918–22
9. The making of international alliances
10. Family and finance through the crisis
11. The electrolytic industry
12. Facing war again
13. Solvay's second post-war
14. Conclusion of Part II
Part III. The Era of Diversification and Globalization (1950–2012)
15. Growth through diversification
the successful entry into plastics and peroxides
16. Enlarging scale and scope
backward and forward integration in the 1960s and 1970s
17. Solvay goes public
financial and organizational limits of a family firm
18. The long and winding road to Deer Park
Solvay's return to the United States
19. From bulk to brains
Solvay's entry into pharmacy and the life sciences
20. Solvay in the age of globalization
21. Towards sustainable product-leadership
22. Chemical and plastics of the future
major turning points at the start of a new century
23. Conclusion of Part III.

Advance praise: 'This is perhaps the most important European corporate history to be published this century. We knew about Ernest Solvay the philanthropist and the role of his company in the complex of European cartels from other histories, but for the first time we now have a highly professional account from the inside of a company that was the earliest and largest European chemical multinational, yet that remained a successful and well-managed family partnership until its public flotation on the Brussels stock exchange in 1967 and further global expansion and diversification as a public joint stock company.' Leslie Hannah, University of Tokyo