Competitive strategies and integration expanses in the large shipping container industry during an era of consecutive global crises
Keywords:Competitive strategies, Large shipping container companies, Global environment, Global crises
Purpose: This research aims to examine the competitive strategies and integration expanses of three of the largest shipping container companies worldwide, attempting to provide a helpful insight into the strategies adopted and implemented by the shipping container companies in question, in order to overcome the multiple significant obstacles resulting from the consecutive global crises of recent years (the post 2008 global financial crisis, pandemic, and war in Ukraine). Design/approach: The present paper (as a Case Study) examined three large shipping container companies that have played a crucial role in global trade over the years. These are three of the largest in 2023 (Hapag Lloyd, COSCO Shipping Lines, and Maersk). The criteria of these selected companies were mainly the authors’ focus on the significance for the industry of the mentioned three large shipping container companies, as well as the volume of information that could gathered by secondary data sources. Secondary data was collected by reviewing the existing branding literature as discussed in academic and trade journals, books, information databases, professional magazines, government publications, and specialized internet sites (Emerald, Science Direct, Google Scholar, and Scirus). Findings: This research identified that large shipping container companies do not solely adopt Cost Leadership, Differentiation, or Focus Strategy when planning their competitive strategies. Consequently, the decision of competitive strategy choice by large shipping container companies is not a trichotomous one between complete Cost Leadership, Differentiation, or Focus Strategy, but is a matter of combination. Many macro- and micro-environmental and organizational factors have a bearing on such decisions. This study identified that the balance of combination is dependent upon a number of reasons and factors, such as (mainly) macro- and micro-environmental factors, company resources and capabilities, customers’ willing to pay, barriers in the shipping liner industry, and revenue and cost approaches. Research limitations/ implications: The study contains several shortcomings. The theoretical view may contain conceptual elements which hinder more specific observations, e.g., the exhaustive examination of the industry’s competition elements based on Porter’s five forces rivalry view about competition between companies: (1) Rivalry between Existing Competitors, (2) Threat of New Entry, (3) Threat of Substitution, (4) Buyers’ Bargaining Power, and (5) Suppliers’ Bargaining Power. There is a recommendation for future research, which will be on how other large shipping container companies have dealt mainly with the post global financial crisis, as well as the post pandemic era, in terms of a competitive strategies approach having been adopted. This could include qualitative or quantitative research, along with a larger number of case study approaches (and not only large shipping container companies, but medium- and small-sized shipping container firms), which would produce useful results and insights. However, despite limitations, the study contains some managerial implications. Originality/value: The paper reports on the findings of one of the first in its kind (competitive strategies in large shipping container companies during an era of consecutive global crises) of research study carried out in the sector- in general, there are few research papers about competitive strategies in the shipping industry. The findings that emerged attempt to set the foundation for helping the various stakeholders in the sector, contributing towards building their strong international presence.
- Large shipping container companies do not solely adopt Cost Leadership, Differentiation, or Focus Strategy when planning their competitive strategies
- The decision of competitive strategy choice by large shipping container companies is not a trichotomous one between complete Cost Leadership, Differentiation, or Focus Strategy, but is a matter of combination
- Many macro- and micro-environmental and organizational factors have a bearing on such decisions
- The balance of combination is dependent upon a number of reasons and factors, such as (mainly) macro- and micro-environmental factors, company resources and capabilities, customers’ willing to pay, barriers in the shipping liner industry, and revenue and cost approaches
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