Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2003 (Revised September 2008)

Globalizing Consumer Durables: Singer Sewing Machine before 1914

by Geoffrey G. Jones and David Kiron

Abstract

Examines the global strategy of Singer, one of the world's first multinationals, before 1914. Singer, a U.S. pioneer of the modern sewing machine, established its first foreign factory in Scotland in 1867. Investments followed in manufacturing and marketing in other countries, especially Russia. By 1914, Singer held a remarkable 90% share of all sewing machine sales outside the United States and was the seventh largest firm in the world. Examines why sewing machines became one of the world's first global products and the entrepreneurial and organizational factors behind Singer's international success. Taught as the first case in the MBA elective Evolution of Global Business.

Keywords: History; Multinational Firms and Management; Organizational Culture; Entrepreneurship; Investment;

Citation:

Jones, Geoffrey G., and David Kiron. "Globalizing Consumer Durables: Singer Sewing Machine before 1914." Harvard Business School Case 804-001, October 2003. (Revised September 2008.)