Causes and Consequences of the Decline of West European Shipbuilding, 1945-2000



During the first half of the Twentieth Century, countries in Western Europe contributed a major share of global ship production. Shipbuilding formed an important part of countries’ national industries and constituted a high portion of employment. However, after the Second World War the traditional geographic structure of the global shipbuilding industry was shaken up by competition from Japanese and, two decades later, South Korean shipyards. As a result, by the turn of the century the market for ships was dominated by Asian shipbuilding companies.

Given postwar liberalisation efforts, the decline of postwar shipbuilding enables an analysis of the consequences of globally integrated markets on regional industries. The varied chronological points of industrial decline across Western European countries also offer an opportunity to study the factors that drive firm and industry competitiveness. How did shipbuilding companies and industries in different countries cope with new competition and what effect did it have on their scale and scope? In this seminar, four scholars will present a paper which deals with these directions for research in order to discuss the causes and consequences of competition in the shipbuilding industry during the 20th century.