The Global Shoemaking Empire: The story of the Baťa Company

Thursday 25 January 2024, 11:39


Guarantors and lecturers: Mgr. et Mgr. Milan Balaban, M.A., Ph.D., Department of History

Number of credits: 5 ECTS

Course code in IS STAG: KHI/IDE

Course description
The Bata Company, which evolved from a small workshop in Zlin in Moravia, in today's Czech Republic, at the end of the 19th Century, became the most prominent shoe producer in the entire world in the second half of the last Century. This company became one of the few Central European companies and the only one from the Czech lands to achieve global status as a world-renowned firm in the period before the Second World War. The company was characterized not only by its unique organizational structure and technological innovations but also by significant investments in the social life of its employees, for whom factory towns, schools, sports, and social facilities were built. More than two dozen company towns were built with specific functionalist architecture, which even today fascinates the architects and urbanists in the world. After the Second World War, the assets of the Bata Company were nationalized in the newly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. However, the remaining factories and retail networks became the core of the new global shoemaking empire, which spread to more than 110 states on all inhabited continents. Effects of globalization and unsuccessful adaptation to the new international circumstances after the 1990s forced the company to close almost all of its factories and stores in Western Europe and North America and to focus on the emerging countries of Africa and Asia. Nevertheless, the story of its development from its origins in a Moravian provincial town to become the world's largest footwear producer within a single century, while transforming several times and finding a new identity, is one of remarkable success.


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