Machine-Building Monopolies

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Machine-Building Monopolies


monopolies of the capitalist world engaged in general machine building.

Table 1. Largest monopolies in general machine building in the capitalist countries (1972)
 Total salesEstablishedAssetsRetained capitalEmployees
1Formed by a merger of Worthington (established 1916) and Studebaker (established 1903)
Hitachi (Japan)$4,354,000,0001910$6,272,000,000$1,576,000,000151,000
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
3,981,000,00018707,264,000,000663,000,000111 ,000
International Harvester
Caterpillar Tractor (USA)2,602,000,00019251,912,000,0001,160,000,00067,000
Gutehoffnungshiitte (West
Singer (USA)2,218,000,00018731,609,000,000763,000,000117,000
Brown Boveri (Switzerland)1,776,000,00018912,247,000,000194,000,00092,000
Deere and Company (USA)1,500,000,00019111,554,000,000800,000,00045,000
Massey-Ferguson (Canada)1,190,000,00018471,057,000,000444,000,00046,000
Combustion Engineering
SKF (Sweden)1,048,000,00019071,357,000,000550,000,00065,000
Allis-Chalmers (USA)960,000,0001901835,000,000390,000,00028,000
Babcock and Wilcox (USA)956,000,0001881717,000,000317,000,00034,000
Sulzer (Switzerland)764,000,00018341,074,000,000569,000,00037,000
Schneider (France)554,000,0001836125,000,000209,000,00055,000

The principal industrially developed capitalist countries have a number of large companies (see Table 1) building machines used in metalworking, metallurgy, the power industry, lifting (cranes, elevators, and so on) and transportation, building construction and highway construction, agriculture, the chemical and oil industries, pumping (including compressors), refrigeration, the pulp and paper industry, textiles, the leather industry, the food industry, and printing.

The leaders in metallurgical machine building are four US monopolies (which in 1971 produced approximately 85 percent of that country’s total output of metallurgical equipment), five companies in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), and three companies each in Great Britain, France, and Japan. Two of the three in Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi, are highly diversified. They are not only shipbuilders but also manufacturers of power and other equipment and of vehicles.

The principal suppliers of power equipment are two Swiss firms, Brown Boveri (also manufacturing electrical equipment) and Sulzer (a builder of diesels), and the French concern Schneider.

In the atomic reactor market a major role is played by four American monopolies and 12 companies from other countries: the FRG, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan (two companies each) and Sweden and Canada (one each). In the USA the principal manufacturers are four electrical engineering monopolies: General Electric (39 percent of all reactor installations in the USA in 1970), Westinghouse Electric (29 percent), Combustion Engineering (20 percent), and Babcock and Wilcox (12 percent). Combustion Engineering also manufactures metallurgical, oil refining, lifting-transportation, and refrigerating equipment, and Babcock and Wilcox also produces power equipment, pumps and compressors, and chemical equipment. In the FRG, the leading manufacturers include Gutehoffnungshiitte, and Kraftwerke Union.

Tractor building in the principal capitalist countries is also dominated by a few monopolies. In the USA in 1971, 75 percent of all tractor production came from eight companies, including International Harvester, Caterpillar Tractor, Deere and Company, Allis-Chalmers, and Ford, which is also a major automobile company. In Great Britain, tractor manufacture is concentrated in six firms, of which two (the British subsidiary of Massey-Ferguson and a branch of Ford) account for roughly 75 percent. Four French companies account for about 90 percent of the tractors manufactured in France; six German companies produce more than 60 percent of the German tractors; and four Italian companies manufacture 80 percent of the Italian tractors. In the production of ball bearings the Swedish firm SKF is preeminent, producing about 25 percent of the total output of the capitalist world.

In a number of branches of general machine building, monopolization is at a comparatively low level. For instance, machine tools and forge-pressing machines are manufactured by hundreds of companies, few of them large. Thus, in 1970 in the USA, which is first in the manufacture of metalworking equipment, only three firms in these branches were among the 400 largest American monopolies. Generally speaking, the concentration of manufacturing, as well as the concentration and centralization of capital, is at a lower level in general machine building than in electrical machine building or transportation machine building.

It is a characteristic of monopolies (particularly of those in the USA) operating in the many areas of general machine building that their capital is exported to other countries; this is also true for electrical and transportation machine building. Branches and subsidiaries are established both in the industrially developed capitalist countries and in developing countries. The deepest penetration of US monopolies has occurred in the tractor industry of Western Europe and of many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thus, International Harvester has factories for tractor manufacture in France, the FRG, and Great Britain, as well as more than 20 plants for manufacture and assembly of tractors and farm machinery in developing countries. Branches of Deere and Company are located in the FRG, France, and Switzerland; and those of Allis-Chalmers are in Italy and Belgium. The international Canadian-British-American Massey-Ferguson Company has large works in these three countries and also owns branches in the FRG, France, and Italy and about 20 assembly plants for tractors and farm machinery in developing countries. Generally, these four companies together with Ford (which has tractor-building subsidiaries in Great Britain and Belgium), including their foreign branches and the companies controlled by them, account for about 60 percent of the total production of wheeled tractors in the capitalist world.

The largest American company in the manufacture of highway construction equipment and of crawler tractors is the Caterpillar Tractor Company; it has subsidiaries and branches in 11 countries and controls 17 other enterprises. Combustion Engineering has branches and subsidiaries in eight countries of Western Europe. Studebaker-Worthington, a manufacturer of pumps and compressors and of power, chemical, and refrigerating equipment, has branches in seven countries. A well-known supplier of industrial and home sewing machines and of office and electronic equipment, the American-controlled Singer Company, has branches in ten countries of Western Europe and in a number of developing countries.

The monopolies operating in the area of general machine building export a large part of their production to foreign markets. In general machine building the growth of production for export (in spite of growing competition) can be ascribed to ever-increasing specialization and to scientific and engineering progress, which accelerates the obsolescence of the machines currently in use and results in the development of new equipment and of improvements in existing equipment.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.