Sustainability as a Strategic Tool in Liner Shipping

Francesco Magni

Student thesis: Master thesis


In recent years public opinion is becoming more and more interested in sustainability related topics. As a consequence, companies in many different industries are trying to find and implement solutions to reduce their environmental impact. Shipping, and liner shipping in particular, is an essential industry to the existence of world trade as it provides long-haul carriage of virtually any kind of goods at relatively low price. However, this widespread adoption of shipping as mean of transportation results in a significant contribution to marine and air pollution. The industry, then, is experiencing some changes towards a cleaner business. This thesis discuss the possibility, by part of liner companies, to adopt a sustainability driven corporate strategy to build a competitive advantage rather than just following anti-pollution regulations and merely comply with them. Through the use of strategic management tools and theories, liner shipping industry has been analyzed in order to discuss the main forces pushing it towards sustainability, which are found to be international and local regulations and market forces, namely changes in customer’s demand. The analysis of such forces suggests that sustainability can potentially be used as key point of an innovative and proactive corporate strategy meant to build a long term competitive advantage. However, the significant investments and remarkable changes in organizational routines implied by a sustainability based strategy have to be included in the analysis. Such drawbacks could be overcome by the development of an already established phenomenon in liner shipping: networks and alliances among companies. Ultimately, then, this thesis supports the conclusion that a sustainability based corporate strategy, adopted and implemented by a network of liner companies, has the potential to result in the creation of a sustainable competitive advantage.

EducationsMSc in Finance and Strategic Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages85