This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Monday 8 April 2024, 3pm to 4pm
  • Location: In-person only
    CL/A/023X, Church Lane Building, Campus West, University of York (Map)
  • Audience: Open to staff, students (postgraduate researchers only)
  • Admission: Free admission, booking not required

Event details

Speaker: Xavier Jou, Universitat de Barcelona

The article aims to unravel a success story in family business history, while engaging with debates in business and management research through the application of corporate strategy tool frameworks (Argyres et al., 2020; Ghemawat, 2016; Maclean et al., 2017). The methodology incorporates a longitudinal approach of a company’s practices, departing from traditional cross-sectional business analyses, transforming static models into dynamic ones. This case study focuses on the creation of competitive advantages within a business dynasty spanning from 1797 to 1936 across four generations.  The analysis of competitive advantage adheres to Michael Porter's model within the Value Chain (1985), meticulously examining the emergence and sustaining of advantages through a detailed assessment of each corporate activity.

At the turn of the 20th century, Barcelona's industrialist bourgeoisie showcased their wealth commissioning family residences from renowned architects embracing the modernist style. Within these families, a chocolatier emerged, expressing opulence through the iconic Casa Amatller, now a symbol of the city.  How did a manufacturer of staple foodstuffs ascend to prominence alongside the foremost industrial figures of the nation?

Data exploration draws from the archival corporate collection of approximately 100,000 documents. Primary sources enable an in-depth examination of the value chain activities, covering inbound logistics (invoices from cocoa and sugar suppliers), operations (taxes on machinery and facilities), outbound logistics (historical distribution of sales points), marketing (press advertisements, collectible cards, and registered patents), and customer service (letters from traveling salesman).

In conclusion, this article seeks to bring to light the success of the Amatller family through a methodology focusing on the creation and endurance of competitive advantages over four generations. This longitudinal approach aims to integrate business history into the study of strategic management, enriching our understanding of how historical insights can enhance contemporary strategic decision-making.