Can the strategies developed in the field of merchant shipping, an area that everyone agrees is largely based on instinct, risk-taking, even randomness, be studied in a way that refers to the categories of strategic management?
Can these strategies be defined, taught, transmitted to a wider audience – especially within the framework of a university approach? George Tsavliris, of the Tsavliris Salvage Group, and Pavlos Emmanouilidis, who teaches Strategic Management and Maritime Strategy at ALBA Graduate School, dared to do so, with the book “Winning Shipping Strategies Theory and Evidence from Leading Shipowners”
In the context of this year’s Poseidonia-2022, a discussion was organized by Economia group to explore the strategic dimension of “the miracle of Greek Shipping”.
In addition to the two authors, Dinos Arkoumanis, Emeritus Professor and former Vice-Chancellor of City University in London, President of the Academic Council of the Metropolitan College in Greece, attended the panel discussion. Harris Vafeias, founder and head of Stealth Gas, also intervened.
“In shipping everything is a disruption. Adaptability is the ultimate virtue. Success stories in shipping are mainly those efforts of the most daring and adaptable”. George Tsavliris told how the joint writing project for this book began when P. Emmanouilidis invited him to give presentations to ALBA students.
For G. Tsavliris, “it is important to transmit the experience to the next generation. Shipping is a difficult industry, with luck playing an important role. One has to face logic: to listen to it but also to follow one’s instinct – and of course to accept hard work.” His conclusion: “You do not need as much intelligence as being bold but also lucky – and having morals”.
Pavlos Emmanouilidis described the structure of the book “Winning Shipping Strategies”, which combines economic theory and management approach with the practice that has been applied to shipping over time. The first part of the book refers to the theoretical background of management, the classic models of Michael Porter (but also their limitations), then the specific characteristics of shipping and the margins of application. Seven individual cases of Greek shipping companies in the continuation of the book serve to show the possibility of a strategic approach to shipping.
For Emmanouilidis “perhaps the Greeks are better at shipping than the Germans, because they are flexible and can adapt to unforeseen situations. ” He also noted that “the increase in shipping complexity favors the older ones and therefore the concentration. In Greece we have mainly small companies – but they succeed by taking advantage of the circularity of the industry “.
At this point, Haris Vafeias of Stealth Gas presented one of the cases that the book studies and analyzes, explaining how his own choice was made in a field that has no Greeks (the small LPG transport ships). “At first we were blown up and told we would not be able to compete with the dominant Norwegians.” To conclude: “The important thing that leads you is to have a vision”.
Dinos Arkoumanis talked about all the long-term upheavals brought by environmental legislation, regulatory interventions and geopolitical unrest. He concluded saying “Successful people in shipping are very focused on the subject. They know how to choose partners “. For him, in the field of shipping “personality matters more than knowledge” and “from now on technology will be the key advantage.”