Baltzar von Platen, Thomas Telford och Göta kanal : Entreprenörskap och tekniköverföring i brytningstid
Sammanfattning: The Gotha Canal was built during 1810-1832 and it was the biggest building enterprise that Sweden up to that time had undertaken. To a poor and preindustrialised country the whole project was economically as well as technically a tremendous challenge.It is well known that Baltzar von Platen, a Swedish nobleman and naval officer, was the initiator and also the manager of the project. This thesis deals with how he was able to solve the problems connected with the construction of the canal. Like all other entrepreneurs he had first of all to raise sufficient funds. How this was done gives us an interesting picture of Sweden on its way from a mercantilistic and aristocratic society to a modern market economy. Formally, the canal was built by a Canal Company owned by private share holders. In reality, however, it was the Swedish goverument who were the true employer of von Platen. He acted more as a civil servant carrying out a "national enterprise'' than as amanager of a business company. And for that particular role he, as an officer and a gentleman, had all the necessary entrepreneurial prerequisites.When enough money was secured von Platen's next problem was how to acquire the necessary canal building technology including the know-how. von Platen asked the British civil-engineer Thomas Telford for help. Throughout the building of the Gotha Canal, Telford acted as a consultant engineer. This included much more than professional advice. He acted as an important mediator between the Canal Company and the British market. Telford procured the goods that von Platen wanted and he carefully recruited all the British craftsmen who spent many years in Sweden teaching the Swedes and supervising the construction of the canal. This was aided by the strong friendship that developed between Telford and von Platen. In every case, legal, political and practical obstacles made the transfer of technology a difficult task and Telford's help was of great importance.Finally the thesis discusses and analyses the reasons why the Canal Company erected a huge mechanical workshop combined with a foundry at Motala. Obviously this was not necessary for the construction of the canal but must be seen as another exemple of von Platen's wish to modernise Sweden. It seems as if von Platen saw the canal project as some sort of "development block" that could generate other desirable projects.
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