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New Tides in Shipping: Studying incumbent firms in maritime energy transitions
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).ORCID iD: 0009-0005-9977-0949
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Shipping is a cornerstone of global transportation responsible for moving large volumes of traded goods. At the same time, negative environmental impacts of shipping operations have attracted growing concerns. Although recognised as the most energy-efficient mode of transportation compared to air and land-based transport, maritime transportation contributes significantly to air-borne emissions, alongside other types of pollutants. Hence, it is apparent that alternatives to highly polluting conventional marine fuels, i.e., crude oil or diesel, have to be found in shipping, just as in other sectors. Responding to calls for a greater attention to actors’ roles in transitions, as well as for broader sectoral coverage of empirical work in the field of sustainability transition studies, this doctoral thesis explores the role of incumbents (established shipping firms) in the early stages of maritime energy transitions. 

Focusing on incumbents is a relatively recent, yet rapidly evolving, stream of research in sustainability transitions studies, with increasing evidence showing heterogeneity and strategic variety in incumbent activities in various transition contexts. By drawing on a multi-level perspective from the socio-technical transition literature, the dynamic capabilities approach from the strategic management literature, and structuration theory, this thesis contributes new knowledge on “how” and “why” frontrunner incumbent shipping firms engage with maritime niche technologies and alternative energy solutions as well as what strategies they adopt to overcome increasing environmental sustainability pressures. These are the topics that have so far received scant attention in sustainability transitions studies. The thesis utilises a qualitative case study approach to study the selection of firms from passenger, vehicle carrier and container shipping business segments that are active in environmental work. 

The findings of this thesis indicate that the roles of shipping firms in the early stage of maritime energy transitions are diverse and more complex than often accounted for in sustainability transitions literature. It is demonstrated that due to increased regulatory, social and competitive pressures, firms’ activities with regards to engagement in maritime niche technologies and alternative energy have shifted from reactive to a mix of strategies where a portfolio of solutions are pursued at the same time across and within individual firms. While adoption of incremental end-of-pipe technologies reinforces dependence on the fossil fuel energy system, a parallel engagement and experimentation with alternative energy solutions indicates that incumbent firms can also adopt a central role in niche development activities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2021. , p. 204
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 193
Keywords [en]
shipping, incumbent firms, maritime energy transitions, multi-level perspective, dynamic capabilities, regime-niche interactions, decarbonisation, air-borne emissions, sustainability transitions
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-45367ISBN: 978-91-89109-76-6 (print)ISBN: 978-91-89109-77-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-45367DiVA, id: diva2:1554371
Public defence
2021-06-15, MA 624 / via link, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 118/1.6.1/2016Available from: 2021-05-24 Created: 2021-05-12 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Sustainability Transitions in Baltic Sea Shipping: Exploring the Responses of Firms to Regulatory Changes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sustainability Transitions in Baltic Sea Shipping: Exploring the Responses of Firms to Regulatory Changes
2019 (English)In: Sustainability, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 11, no 7, article id 1916Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates how the introduction of more stringent environmental regulation regarding sulphur and nitrogen emission control areas induced shipping companies to react to a new situation and opened up a window of opportunity for build-up of niches for alternative vessel energy sources. By drawing on a multi-level perspective from the socio-technical transition literature, the study provides empirical evidence for how realignments in the environmental regulatory regime alter incumbent actors’ positions and produce varying environmental innovation responses to reduce air-borne pollution from shipping. The study illustrates that the stringency of a regional command-and-control regulation in combination with evolving pressures in the external landscape environment and shipping companies’ task environments are essential components shaping the adoption of environmental innovations. Although incremental innovations seem to dominate in a fossil fuel-based maritime transportation socio-technical system, our results demonstrate the role of regulations and the behaviour of frontrunners in the context of regime fragmentation and sustainability transition processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
MDPI, 2019
Keywords
sustainability transitions; environmental innovations; multi-level perspective; Baltic Sea shipping; incumbent companies; sulphur and nitrogen emission regulation
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-38007 (URN)10.3390/su11071916 (DOI)000466551600093 ()2-s2.0-85064084926 (Scopus ID)118/1.6.1/2016 (Local ID)118/1.6.1/2016 (Archive number)118/1.6.1/2016 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 118/1.6.1/2016
Available from: 2019-04-15 Created: 2019-04-15 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Dynamic capabilities and strategic reorientation towards decarbonisation in Baltic Sea shipping
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dynamic capabilities and strategic reorientation towards decarbonisation in Baltic Sea shipping
2020 (English)In: Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, ISSN 2210-4224, E-ISSN 2210-4232, Vol. 37, p. 187-202Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite the challenges of decarbonisation faced by the shipping sector, this topic has rarely been addressed in sustainability transitions studies. This paper questions common views of established firms as agents resisting change and broadens discussions on the role of incumbents and strategic reorientation. Using the dynamic capabilities approach, we provide a deeper understanding of firms’ strategic reorientation over time. Qualitative content analysis is applied to data from interviews, companies’ reports and observations to address questions on how and why incumbent shipping firms in the Baltic Sea region reoriented towards decarbonisation in 2007−2018. We demonstrate that the engagement in decarbonisation has been a gradual process, characterised by a shift from reactive strategies to a mixed portfolio of integrated active and proactive innovation strategies. Although firms experiment with decarbonisation through alternative energy solutions, they simultaneously continue to devote considerable attention to less radical innovations such as increased energy efficiency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2020
Keywords
Incumbents, Dynamic capabilities, Reorientation, Maritime transport, Decarbonisation, Innovation strategies
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-41909 (URN)10.1016/j.eist.2020.09.002 (DOI)000599933600013 ()2-s2.0-85091940927 (Scopus ID)118/1.6.1/2016 (Local ID)118/1.6.1/2016 (Archive number)118/1.6.1/2016 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 118/1.6.1/2016
Available from: 2020-09-21 Created: 2020-09-21 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
3. Revival of wind-powered shipping: Comparing the early-stage innovation process between an incumbent and a newcomer firm
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Revival of wind-powered shipping: Comparing the early-stage innovation process between an incumbent and a newcomer firm
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-45375 (URN)
Note

As manuscript in dissertation.

Under review with a special issue at Business Strategy and the Environment at the time for the public defence.

Available from: 2021-05-17 Created: 2021-05-17 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
4. Rethinking structuration logics in socio-technical transitions theory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Rethinking structuration logics in socio-technical transitions theory
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-45376 (URN)
Note

As manuscript in dissertation

Available from: 2021-05-17 Created: 2021-05-17 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved

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Stalmokaitė, Ignė

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Citation style
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