The paper consists of two elements:

  1. analysis of the competitiveness of the Dutch shipbuilding industry, and

  2. structural and organizational changes in Dutch shipyards since 1983, based on market approach and cost reduction.

The objective of a study completed in 1993 was to gain insight into the competitive position of the Dutch shipbuilding industry for seagoing merchant ships. Different indicators were developed and analyzed for the period 1984–1992. Labor cost and exchange rates are the two parameters which enable assessment of the development of labor cost, which is calculated in U.S.$ per cgt.* For selected countries the level of productivity (and thereby the labor cost per cgt) has been adjusted to an estimated degree of subcontracting. The Netherlands shipbuilding industry shows an average share in the AWES** production of about 8%-9% in the period 1984–1992. This indicates that a competitive position has been maintained. Some Asian countries and Poland show a lower level of labor cost per cgt than the Netherlands. The changes in structure and organization of the Dutch shipbuilding industry, which concentrates mainly on niche markets and special types of vessels, is discussed. The niche-market approach has been leading to product specialization at several yards. The expectations for the shipbuilding market in Western Europe was discussed briefly.* A common measurement of production of the shipbuilding industry is Compensated Gross Tonnage (cgt), which is defined as a unit of shipyard capacity, derived from multiplying the gross tonnage by a coefficient reflecting the "standard man-hour" required for production of the type of ship under consideration. These conversion coefficients give an indication of the required shipbuilding capacity--expressed in man-hours—to produce one gross ton, which takes into account the complexity of the production. If more yard capacity is required to produce one gross ton, the conversion coefficient has a higher value. The conversion coefficients are determined by the working party of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).** AWES: Association of West European Shipbuilders, including the countries of the European Union (EU) as well as Finland, Sweden and Norway. The national shipbuilders organizations are represented in AWES.

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