Rise and decline of the shipbuilding industry in Brazil

Abstract:

This article analyses the recent evolution of shipbuilding industry in Brazil, identifying the economic and technological bottlenecks that have limited the evolution of this industry towards a stable economic activity in a country that has more than six thousands kilometres of coast. Since its inception, the Brazilian shipbuilding industry has been heavily coordinated by government planning and financing. Successive shipbuilding induction plans failed to correct the technological shortage of this industry and its dependence on imports of advanced factors of production, including basic and executive design and high added value marine machinery and equipment. Local shipyards have restricted themselves to organizing production, transforming basic raw materials (mainly steel components) at relatively modest scales compared to international industry standards. In 2005, the Brazilian shipbuilding industry began a new cycle of expansion driven by an ambitious government plan that ordered 49 tankers in national shipyards. After 12 years of its launch, this plan did not reach its production targets and, in addition, caused a profound economic downturn in this industry, characterized by massive layoffs of workers, closure of traditional yards and cancellation of orders of ships and offshore oil and gas exploration platforms. Based on "competitive advantage of nation’s framework" (Porter, 1990 and 1998), this article analyses the determinants of world leadership in shipbuilding industry. It compares the economic structure of Brazilian shipbuilding industry with the international industry standards of competitiveness, revealing the incongruity of the economic development strategies based on the protection of the domestic market and government purchasing power, but uncompromising with development of national technological capability and disconnected from the local industrial base. This research intends to contribute to the study of technology issues for developing countries.


Reference:
WEISS, James Manoel Guimarães. Rise and decline of the shipbuilding industry in Brazil. In: ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY, IAMOT, 27., 2018, Birmingham, England. Proceedings… 20 p.

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