Maritime logistics in global value chains: mastering an era of ideas, information and integration
Two waves of global economic development, falling transportation costs and falling costs for the exchange of information and ideas, disintegrated value chains into task-by-task competition. No longer is there competition between vertically ingetrated organisations, but between individual business activities, or tasks, performed in different nations. The recent efforts of organisations to adapt to these developments are superseded by an upcoming third wave of falling costs of information manipulation and storage. This, what we might call digitalisation, enables organisations to re-integrate, both in terms of process design and introduction of digital tools, to support their activities. Maritime logistics benefited substantially from the first and second waves. The sector needs to be watchful for changes affecting its business models from the third wave to meet the changing needs of their trading and manufacturing clients. However, organisational change costs financial and mental resources. Firms need to sacrifice today’s cash flow to innovate and to reap future benefits of change, and they need to beat their internal inertia. This paper will use Baldwin’s concept of the Two Unbundlings to explain globalisation from a historical perspective and to assess the implications of this development on the logistics industry. Firms in the maritime industry need to assess their corporate sustainability. The paper introduces the Corporate Sustainability-Value Added Model which helps firms to analyse where they stand managing the trade-off between profitability and innovation. Along these dimensions the model identifies strategy categories; these guide firms towards more favourable competitive positions. But beware: the bargain between innovation and value-added might result in a corporate “coffin corner” – a synonym in aviation for saving fuel in high altitudes at the risk of losing lift due to lower air density – resembling a paradox of trying to achieve extensive innovative capability and at the same time superior financial performance.
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