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Path dependency and industrial culture heritage: The case of the Bata Shoe company towns

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9:00 AM, Jeudi 1 Sep 2022 (20 minutes)
Between 1929 and 1935, the Bata Shoe Company planned the construction of a series of modern industrial satellite towns in Europe, Asia, and America. From an initial constellation of architecture and urbanism references, Bata’s management and company architects developed a distinct and recognizable urban form across all of the towns. An explanation of the rationale behind the sequence of choices that set the specific trajectory consolidating Bata’s urbanism and, ultimately, its industrial heritage, remains as a gap in the existing literature on the Bata Shoe Company. In this article, the conceptual framework of historical institutionalism is used to study how questions of meaning and social legitimacy, and path dependency influenced the design of the urban form of the Bata Shoe Company towns. The methodology employed involved the triangulation of the study of secondary sources and research into Bata’s archives, with fieldwork in 13 of the towns. The research reveals a process of path dependence of design ideas—with instances of lock-in, positive feedback, increasing returns, and self-reinforcement—which have conditioned their subsequent transformations. This article will posit that interdisciplinary readings on urban history can bring new insights towards a better understanding of industrial heritage resulting from activities by multinational organizations.

Víctor Muñoz Sanz


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