An early modern factory between state and market: labour and management at the Amsterdam naval shipyard (1660-1795)?




Naval shipyards were among the largest production facilities of the pre-industrial world. The Venetian Arsenal and the British Royal Dockyards therefore play a prominent role in the historiography of early modern labor relations. However, labor relations at the Dutch naval shipyards remain understudied. The research of the Amsterdam naval storehouse and shipyard presented in this paper shows that in many respects, systems of administration, management methods, and shop-floor hierarchies were more ‘modern’ in the Dutch Republic than in its European counterparts, and more developed in these state facilities than in most other enterprises. The Dutch naval shipyards thus provide important keys to an understanding of the role of the state in the evolution of ‘capitalist’ systems of production. Furthermore, contrary to established views on Dutch naval management, substantial restructuring of labor relations continued during the ‘quiet years’ of the eighteenth century, changing our perspective on the evolution of manufacture after the seventeenth-century ‘Golden Age’.

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The Business History Seminar has been made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) and the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication. 
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Marten Boon