Despite the aura of radicalism surrounding the Lucas Plan it was in fact a diversification, not a conversion, programme. The modest nature of its objectives become clearer by comparing the plan with the general implications of Frensborg and Wallensteen’s analysis of conversion. One of their most important observations was that the main obstacle to conversion lay not in a lack of ideas or products but in the organisation itself. Indeed almost all the many alternative product proposals came from within Lucas Aerospace itself but, quite deliberately, they were largely restricted to products which could be made with existing skills and equipment. While the Labour government was not willing directly to assist Lucas Aerospace in moving out of military production, nor to become a major buyer of civilian products from this or any other defence company, some of the alternative products proposed by the Combine appeared profitable even by commercial criteria. Moreover, the Lucas shop stewards, even with a diversification not a conversion strategy, found themselves up against the ‘business idea’ of the company which management was unwilling to change. And although the Combine Committee stressed retention of the skills and ingenuity of the workforce, rather than new investment in plant and machinery, that did not appear to make their proposals any more acceptable.
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- Defence Industry Diversification and Conversion (III)
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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