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Fifty years of organisational change in container shipping: regional shift and the role of family firms

Abstract : Spectacular growth has marked the industry initiated by Malcolm McLean with the sailing of the Ideal-X in 1956. While the growth of container shipping has been typically seen in terms of technological advances, increasing vessel capacity, traffic growth, financial performance and competitiveness, it has been shaped also by organisational transformations. This paper provides an overview of the major companies that make up the container shipping industry, tracing the rapid adoption of containerisation by American carriers to its diffusion to Europe and then Asia. While several carriers belong to business conglomerates, the most dynamic in recent years have been those that are those that possess a family structure. About 12 of the present top 20 carriers are largely family controlled, including 4 out of the top 5. Unlike other capital intensive industries, where the power has shifted towards corporate governance, the container shipping industry retains a strong individualistic entrepreneurial character. At a time when North American ownership in container shipping is no more, the spirit of innovation began 50 years ago by an American visionary is still evident in the entrepreneurial dynamism of many of the industry leaders.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00951997
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 9:22:53 AM
Last modification on : Friday, October 4, 2019 - 1:08:24 AM

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B Slack, A Fremont. Fifty years of organisational change in container shipping: regional shift and the role of family firms. GeoJournal, Springer Verlag, 2009, pp 23-34. ⟨10.1007/s10708-008-9212-2⟩. ⟨hal-00951997⟩

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