Competition in the Merchant Steamship Market, 1889-1914

By David Humphreys, published November 2013


The merchant steamship market in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was dominated by the UK shipbuilding industry but past studies have portrayed a market characterized by the strong relationships between UK shipbuilders and shipowners where competition between firms was the exception rather than the rule. The objective of this article is to shed new light on this market by drawing on UK shipbuilding and shipping records to examine four characteristics that indicate the intensity of competition for new orders from 18891914: customer concentration, firms’ business strategies, sales activities and price negotiation. Overall a market is revealed with many examples of shipbuilders deploying a high level of sales and marketing expertise which contributed both to the success of individual firms and to the UK shipbuilding industry as a whole.

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Filed under: Other (Twentieth C) | Other (Nineteenth C) | Internal Waterways
Subjects include: Administration | Merchant Marines | Shipbuilding & Design

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