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Technology and Productivity in the Port of Gothenburg c. 1850-1965

Journal article
Authors Jesper Hamark
Published in International Journal of Maritime History
Volume 26
Issue 2
Pages 265-287
ISSN 0843-8714
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Pages 265-287
Language en
Keywords Port of Gothenburg, technology, productivity, cranes, forklifts, palletization,
Subject categories Other industrial engineering and economics, Economic History


This article discusses the timing and impact of technological change in Scandinavia’s largest port, Gothenburg. It argues that technological change was gradual for a long period of time and that the forklift and the pallet—introduced in 1947 and diffused in the mid-1950s—was responsible for setting off a series of changes. Productivity growth is a subject much neglected in precontainer port studies. The current analysis goes beyond earlier, simplistic notions of productivity and offers new ways of measuring port output. The productivity figures presented strongly indicate growth up to the Second World War—an empirical finding that contrasts with results from other ports. And the study goes on to suggest that growth accelerated in the postwar years. The pattern offers tentative support for the contention that the impact of the forklift was revolutionary.

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