This peer reviewed article studies the institutionalization of ideas on urban planning and architecture within the building activities of the Bata Shoe Company between 1929 and 1935, and the role of external legitimation in justifying their utilization or withdrawal.
Between 1929 and 1935, the Bata Shoe Company planned the construction of a series of modern industrial satellite towns in Europe, Asia, and America. By 1935, however, their development was far from advanced, and their original town plans, following a modernist grid, had been replaced with new ones, based on garden city ideas. A transnational explanation of the conditions that complicated their construction and motivated changes in their design remains as a gap in the existing literature on the Bata Shoe Company. The conceptual framework of sociological institutionalism is used to study how questions of meaning and social legitimacy influenced the design and construction of Bata’s industrial towns in the 1930s. The methodology employed involved the triangulation of the study of secondary sources and research into Bata’s archives, with the analysis of how the urban form of the towns changed through time. The research reveals the institutionalization of ideas on urban planning and architecture within Bata’s structure, and the role of external legitimation in justifying their utilization or withdrawal. Finally, this article will posit that interdisciplinary readings on contemporary urban history can bring new insights into the transformation of the built environment by multinational organizations.