In the Kingdom of Shoes: Bata, Zlín, Globalization, 1894–1945

By Zachary Austin Doleshal

© 2021

One of the world’s largest sellers of footwear, the Bata Company of Zlín, Moravia, has a remarkable history that touches on crucial aspects of what made the world modern. In the twilight of the Habsburg Empire, it Americanized its production model while also trying to Americanize its workforce. In the chaos of postwar Czechoslovakia, it promised a technocratic form of governance. During the Roaring Twenties, Bata became synonymous with rationalization across Europe and thus a flashpoint for a continent-wide debate. In the Great Depression, Bata globalized when others contracted, and in doing so, became the first shoe company to unlock the potential of globalization.

As Bata expanded worldwide, it became an example of corporate national indifference, where company personnel were trained to be able to slip into and out of national identifications with ease. Such indifference, however, was seriously challenged by the geopolitical crisis of the 1930s. Bata management turned nationalist, even fascist, on the cusp of the Second World War.

In the Kingdom of Shoes unravels the way the Bata project swept away tradition and enmeshed the lives of thousands of people around the world in the industrial production of shoes. Using a rich array of archival materials from two continents, the book answers how Bata’s rise to the world’s largest producer of shoes challenged the nation-state, democracy, and Americanization.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 18
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

In the Kingdom of Shoes tells the story of the pioneering Bata Company, which created a fascinating company culture as it globalized industrial shoe production.

In the Kingdom of Shoes: Bata, Zlín, Globalization, 1894–1945

By Zachary Austin Doleshal

© 2021

One of the world’s largest sellers of footwear, the Bata Company of Zlín, Moravia, has a remarkable history that touches on crucial aspects of what made the world modern. In the twilight of the Habsburg Empire, it Americanized its production model while also trying to Americanize its workforce. In the chaos of postwar Czechoslovakia, it promised a technocratic form of governance. During the Roaring Twenties, Bata became synonymous with rationalization across Europe and thus a flashpoint for a continent-wide debate. In the Great Depression, Bata globalized when others contracted, and in doing so, became the first shoe company to unlock the potential of globalization.

As Bata expanded worldwide, it became an example of corporate national indifference, where company personnel were trained to be able to slip into and out of national identifications with ease. Such indifference, however, was seriously challenged by the geopolitical crisis of the 1930s. Bata management turned nationalist, even fascist, on the cusp of the Second World War.

In the Kingdom of Shoes unravels the way the Bata project swept away tradition and enmeshed the lives of thousands of people around the world in the industrial production of shoes. Using a rich array of archival materials from two continents, the book answers how Bata’s rise to the world’s largest producer of shoes challenged the nation-state, democracy, and Americanization.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 18
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Zachary Austin Doleshal is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of History at Sam Houston State University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    1. “A New Fixed Existence”: The Modernization of Zlín

    2. “Time is Money”: The Americanization of the Dřevnice Valley, 1914–1923

    3. “An End to Politics”: The Political Takeover of the Dřevnice Valley, 1923–1926

    4. “Speak Briefly”: Rationalization and Everyday Life, 1926–1932

    5. “Half the World is Barefoot”: The Globalization of the Bata System, 1931–1937

    6. “The Path of Perfection”: Engineering the Batovci for an Uncertain World, 1933–1938

    7. “Everyone Gives Their Soul to Their Country,” 1937–March, 1939

    8. “Not a Nazi, but More or Less a Fool,” 1939–1941

    Conclusion

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