This work is a reprint of a 1962 book, British Shipping and World Competition, by maritime economist Dr S. G. Sturmey. It seeks to explain why the tonnage of ships registered in the United Kingdom declined from forty-five percent of the world total in 1900, to sixteen percent by 1960. It presents four possible answers and proceeds to examine them in detail: changes in approaches to competition resulting in changes to the economic structure of the industry; international interference in competitive structures; unrelated factors, such as government policies that didn’t directly concern shipping but still caused an impact; and the internal actions within British shipping relating to changes in industrial circumstances. It is comprised of fifteen chapters, an appendix tabling the contribution of British shipping to the balance of payments, a bibliography, comprehensive index, epilogue, and a foreword from the series editor which states that the Sturmey’s arguments remain resonant in the field of maritime history in the present day. Sturmey makes a particular effort to place the activity in the British shipping industry into an international context for the sake of comparative analysis. It concludes that the decline of the industry was primarily due to internal decision-making rather than external factors - a conclusion that was considered divisive and provocative upon initial release, but has stood the test of time. The epilogue attempts to predict the future of British shipping post-1960, suggesting shipowners could improve the industry’s prospects: however, few of these predictions came to be.
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