Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The impact of a new port on the organization of maritime shipping: an attempt to generalize the results of a case-study on the foundation of St. Petersburg and its influence on Dutch maritime shipping in the Gulf of Finland and Archangel (1703-1740)

Scheltjens, Werner (2008): The impact of a new port on the organization of maritime shipping: an attempt to generalize the results of a case-study on the foundation of St. Petersburg and its influence on Dutch maritime shipping in the Gulf of Finland and Archangel (1703-1740).

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Abstract

In this paper, I present an attempt to generalize the results of a historical case-study on the foundation of St. Petersburg and its influence on Dutch maritime shipping in the Gulf of Finland and Archangel in 1703-1740. In order to do so, I present the case itself first, followed by a description of the methods applied to its study and a detailed overview of the analytical results. The interplay of local and regional economic policies, infrastructural developments and the location of industries plays a major role in the organization of maritime shipping destined to the places and regions that were affected by it. The actual effect on the organization of maritime shipping, however, can be rather unexpected. The results of this case-study show that the impact of a new port on the organization of maritime shipping is anything but straightforward. The reason for this is that maritime shipping is an economic activity in its own right: maritime shipping is defined not only by the nodes it connects nor by its own social structures exclusively, but by both elements at the same time. In adopting organizational strategies varying from flexibility to repetitiveness in the choice of both cargoes and routes, maritime shipping is bounded by the origin of the shipmaster, the size of his ship and the type of cargo that he was specialized in. Thus, in order to understand the impact of a new port on the organization of maritime shipping it is necessary to take into account both the interplay of economic geographical circumstances and the complex organizational structure of maritime shipping. Three types of generalization are possible on the basis of the results of this case-study. From a historiographical point of view, the analytical results of this paper serve as an answer to existing assumptions about specialization in early-modern maritime shipping. On a methodological level, it is possible to generalize the resuls of this case-study in the form of a taxonomy of organizational strategies and behaviour of populations of shipmasters. This, in turn, is proof of the successful application of evolutionary theory to a profoundly economic historical topic.

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