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This paper addresses longstanding questions about how promise and obligation, two of the key conceptual building blocks for psychological contract research, are conceptualized and operationalized: How do employees understand these concepts? Would their understandings be congruent with the researchers’ and how would this knowledge inform future psychological contract research? Drawing on interviews with 61 Chinese workers from diverse backgrounds, our results suggest the concepts have distinct meanings for participants in terms of three criteria (defining characteristics, key features and manifestations in employment). We argue that promise and obligation are likely to serve different functions in employment relationship and have different meanings for researchers versus participants, and accordingly we highlight the challenges of using them to conceptualize and operationalize psychological contracts in China and beyond.
For fifty years the Soviet Bloc constituted one pole of an essentially bipolar world power distribution. Although not unprecedented (consider Imperial Germany's defiance of most of the world during 1917–18, or later phases of Napoleon's challenge to Europe), bipolarism has usually been very brief. The sheer length of time the Soviet-American confrontation dominated world politics created, on the contrary, mind-sets and reflexes which only a conscious effort can overcome.
In 1988, the American Neptune published an article by Dwight E. Robinson on the British coastal fleet in the eighteenth century.2 It was a pioneering study in that before then very few pieces had been published on any aspect of the British coastal trade in this or any other maritime history journal. It reminded readers of the great importance of the British coastal trade, both quantitatively and qualitatively, from the earliest days of Britain and especially of its role as a nursery for seamen and in boosting Britain's naval power through training seamen in ship handling and navigation. It was also innovative in its methodology, as Robinson had to deal with the problem of double recording of ships and find a method to eliminate such double counting. He chose to use a computer database for this task, a relatively novel solution at the time. Furthermore, the article provided a quantitative assessment of the size of the British coastal trade in 1776, and was able to break this down by the nature of the cargo carried, between domestic coasting and that to near-continental ports, and also provided a ranking of which ports were the largest owners of coasters and therefore probably the most heavily engaged in operating coastal ships. This was important work and came up with revealing findings.
Robinson took maritime historians to task for ignoring “a comprehensive source of data” that would allow us to estimate “the extent and nature of the British domestic coasting fleet” in the eighteenth century.3 Given that the article was published over a decade ago, and that no subsequent book or article has appeared tackling the question of the size of the British eighteenth-century coasting fleet or drawing on the documentation to which Robinson referred, maritime historians appear to be either incorrigibly slow and lazy or totally disinterested in the British coasting fleet. Our object is to redeem the community of maritime historians. There are good reasons why the records in question have not been extensively used, and why Robinson overstated their comprehensiveness and value.
The records that Robinson used were the British Admiralty's thirtyeight “Registers of Protection from Being Pressed,” held in the National Archives in Kew on the western outskirts of London.
The study of maritime freight rates has a substantial and honourable ancestry. Indeed, its honour was recently much enhanced by the award of the Nobel Prize in Economics to one of the subject's progenitors. As long ago as 1914 C.K. Hobson drew up “a freight index number” from 1870 to 1912 to calculate the contribution of shipping earnings to Britain's balance of payments. Isserlis in 1938 developed an index of tramp shipping freights from 1869 to 1914. In the early 1950s Alec Cairncross drew on the work of both Hobson and Isserlis to calculate three indices of freight rates - inward, outward and composite. The early interest in freights arose from a wish to calculate foreign exchange earnings from shipping as one component of Britain's invisibles, but later work has laid emphasis upon the theoretical benefits a reduction in ocean freight rates is likely to have had on international trade and hence regional specialization and economic growth. A lowering of freight rates is a social saving and could be calculated as a proportion of national income, as another Nobel Laureate, Robert Fogel, did with railway rates in America. In addition, assuming reasonably competitive markets, if freight rates fell they would likely have caused a commensurate drop in the delivered price of the commodity carried, which in turn should have spurred demand (assuming a degree of price elasticity). Hence, output would be expanded, perhaps extracting economies of scale, adopting new technology or improving methods of organization - and thus reducing unit cost. This may then have led to another beneficial spiral.
Similarly, a reduction in transport costs may have opened some markets previously closed to a particular good because the final price, including the freight charge, was too high to compete. These new markets would have created additional demand, again perhaps stimulating improved methods of production or extraction and hence lowering unit costs, and thus into the same beneficent loop. In addition, reductions in transport costs might have allowed local monopolies to be breached, bringing competition to rigid markets and hence reducing prices. It has been postulated that one important contributory factor in opening the American west to grain production was the relatively inexpensive transport provided by railways and steamships which enabled Midwest wheat to penetrate European, and especially English, markets. This was a classic effect of a long-term reduction in transport costs, part of which was transatiantic freights.
The aim of this article is to estimate the amount of work performed by coastal shipping in the period just before World War I and to compare its contribution with that of the railways and canals. Until recenüy, with honourable exceptions, the coastal trade in the railway era was either ignored or merited but scant coverage. The impression was given that the railways, like juggernaut's chariot, swept everything else away, rendering obsolete the coach, wagon, canal barge and coaster. By 1910 the railway network was virtually complete compared with, say, 1875, when many branch lines had yet to be constructed, or 1850, when only the basic network had been built, and it might be assumed that litde scope was left for the carriage of freight in coastal ships. Thus, the year 1910 should provide the least favourable case for the coaster and the most favourable for the railway in terms of total tonnage of goods carried. Passenger traffic will not be considered here; this is not to imply that coastal shipping did not carry people, but it seems indisputable that where coaster and railway competed, passengers preferred rail to sea travel. The main strength of the coastal passenger ship in 1910 was in services the railway could not provide in ferrying passengers to places like the Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Channel Isles and the Scottish islands. This article will confine itself to considering the use made of the various types of transport in providing cargo-carrying services.
One measure of freight traffic which might be used is tonnage carried. At first sight this seems the obvious criterion; it is commonly used for foreign trade or modern lorry traffic, and the capacity of railway wagons or canal barges seems crucial. However, a more informative and accurate measure of total cargo movement performed is ton-mileage, as this takes into account not merely the tonnage of goods moved but also the distance consignments were carried. The value of ton-mileage has long been recognized by railway managers and statisticians. Historians, too, have emphasized its importance, notably Hawke, who used it as the measure of total railway output, and Cain, who said that “[t]on miles…are the only reasonable measure of railway output.“ Different forms of transport may be better suited for different lengths of journey.
Derek Aldcroft once described the British coastal trade as “the Cinderella of the transport world.” He was referring to the lack of provision made for it by the ports compared to overseas trade just before and during the First World War. His appellation might also be applied to its position in the research hierarchy in that it has attracted relatively little scholarly time and attention. One indication of this is that the standard textbook on the coasting trade in early modern England remains that written by T.S. Willan in 1938. Although a number of articles have been published adding to and amending the picture portrayed by Willan, there has been no attempt to incorporate this recent research into a new book-length synthesis. For the modern period the situation is worse. There is no book dealing with this aspect of British transport history. Worse still, with one honourable exception, those textbooks which do exist on British transport history devote a tiny proportion of their often impressive bulk to the topic. Apart from a few articles, many of them in the Journal of Transport History, and a couple of chapters in two collections of essays, the coastal trade remains largely overlooked. It is not surprising, then, with this degree of neglect by professional scholars that the neophyte coming fresh to the subject, having made reasonable endeavours to locate a body of knowledge, might conclude that the coastal ship was never of any great significance to the trade and growth of the British economy and to the modernization of society.
This essay tries to correct this view. More specifically it attempts three things. It puts forward a little more evidence to sustain the contention that coastal shipping deserves the sobriquet of the Cinderella trade. It then endeavours to explain why there has been such a profound neglect. The third section sketches, albeit very briefly, the main outlines of what we now know about the economics and impact of the coastal trade and, in so doing, provides a context for the other articles in this volume.
Let us then reinforce the view that the coastal trade has remained a relatively under-researched topic, relative, that is, to most other forms of transport. One piece of evidence may support this view. Recently a bibliography of the British coastal trade was published.
This book collects seventeen previously published essays by John Armstrong concerning the British coastal trade. Armstrong is a leading maritime historian and the essays provided here offer a thorough exploration of the British coastal trade, his specialisation, during the period of industrialisation and technological development that would lead to modern shipping. The purpose is to demonstrate the whether or not the coastal trade was the main carrier of internal trade and a pioneer of the technical developments that modernised the shipping industry. Each essay makes an original contribution to the field and covers a broad range of topics, including the fluctuating importance of the coastal trade and size of the coastal fleet over time; the relationship between coastal shipping, canals, and railways; a comparison between the coastal liner and coastal tramp trade; the significance of the river Thames in enabling trade; coastal trade economics; maritime freight rates; the early twentieth century shipping depression; competition between coastal liner companies; and a detailed study of the role of the government in coastal shipping. The book also contains case studies of the London coal trade; coastal trade through the River Dee port; and the Liverpool-Hull trade route. It contains a foreword, introduction, and bibliography of Armstrong's writings. There is no overall conclusion, except the assertion that coastal shipping plays a tremendous role in British maritime history, and a call for further research into the field.
Maritime history has made some amazing strides in the past half century. From largely being the preserve of aniquarians and aficionados of ships, it has become an increasingly respected genre within the larger body of historical scholarship. Yet if there is one area that has been relatively ignored - with, as John Armstrong would likely put it, “a few honourable exceptions” - it would be the history of the trades in which merchant vessels engaged. In the early modern period we know a lot about the tobacco and timber trades, and the study of the slave trade in all its ramifications has been revolutionized by the work of a dedicated group of scholars. But virtually all the great trades of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries still await proper scholarly treatment.
There is, however, an “honourable exception” to this last generalization, for as the essays that follow demonstrate with grace and insight, we know quite a bit about the British coastal trade. That I can make this claim is due almost entirely to the work of a single remarkable scholar - John Armstrong. Although as John is always careful to remind us, his work has been entirely on the British trade, it is no less important for this focus. Moreover, although even in the United Kingdom this sector was far from homogeneous, I believe that readers of the essays in this volume will come away with an appreciation of the main characteristics of its various branches. As John has pointed out repeatedly, there remain many significant things that we still do not know. Yet what is striking to me - and I suspect that it will be to many other readers as well - is that thanks to John Armstrong's industry, imagination and hard work we know quite a bit about the British coastal trade.
For this reason, and many others besides, we are extremely happy to have this selection (and as the bibliography at the end of the book demonstrates, it is only a selection) of John Armstrong's writings in a single volume in the Research in Maritime History señes. Having worked on this book for the past few months and reacquainted myself with his body of work, I am convinced that all maritime historians will learn a great deal from the essays included here.
This essay will examine the ways in which British coastal shipping businesses reacted to competition from railways. It is divided broadly into five sections. The first sketches the role of coastal shipping before the advent of the railways and explores the impact of steam on short-sea shipping. The second analyzes the part played by the short-distance early railways, which were perceived initially as at best minor threats to coastal shipping. Indeed, many were seen as beneficial because they enhanced the flow of goods to and from ports. The third section examines the threat from the long-distance national rail lines that began to appear in the 1840s. The fourth considers the range of responses, including attempts at intra- and inter-modal collusion; a search for technological improvement; a more positive market segmentation; and a re-appraisal of pricing methods. Finally, I will evaluate the success of these responses in securing market share for the coaster.
As a method of moving goods and people, coastal shipping has a long history. In the early modern period it was an important industry in Britain, even if estimates of its significance vary enormously. With an extensive coastline and many navigable rivers, Britain was particularly reliant on coasters to move coal, grain, ore and a wide range of agricultural and extractive goods. Despite having been virtually ignored by some recent historians, coastal shipping was crucial to British industrialization and its growing trade. Coasters linked the various regions into something approaching a national economy, carrying not only bulky, low-value products but also manufactures, such as linen, cheese, iron goods, and beer and spirits. They were ubiquitous, as a perusal of directories for port cities or early local newspapers reveals.
The value of the coaster was much enhanced with the advent of steam. Although there were earlier experiments, the first commercial steamboat service in the UK was inaugurated in 1812 by Henry Bell, who ran Comet on the Clyde and its estuaries between Glasgow and Gourock. This service, which spawned many others, began thirteen years before the pioneering Stockton and Darlington Railway (SDR) and eighteen before the Liverpool and Manchester (LMR). In other words, steam was exploited much earlier on water than on rails. The advantages of steam to water transport were enormous. Although largely confined to rivers, estuaries and coastal routes, steam provided a predictability that sailing ships lacked.
The coastal trade of individual ports has been little researched. Where ports have been studied it is often with reference to their technical development, engineering works or role in the more exotic overseas trades. Coasters called at ports more frequendy than deep-water ships because their voyages were shorter compared to the longer overseas journeys and thus had a greater impact on harbour activity. With a few honourable exceptions there has been little research on the trade or fortunes of individual ports and even less on small ports. This is probably as much due to a dearth of records as a lack of interest. By good fortune one source has survived which records the trade of Connah's Quay from 1905 to the First World War, ironically among the records of a railway company. Connah's Quay was a small port on the Dee Estuary about eight miles downstream from Chester. It no longer operates as a port. The Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway (WMCQR) was approved by Parliament in 1862 and was built by 1865. The railway company developed the wharves at Connah's Quay. It was absorbed by the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MSL) in 1890, and by 1897 the MSL was part of the Great Central (GC). In 1904 the GC formally took over the WMCQR. It required the port of Connah's Quay to keep a register of all ships entering and clearing the port, including their registered tonnage, the type and quantity of cargoes they were carrying, their captain's name and their port of despatch or destination. This source can be used to shed light on the nature of the trade of this tiny port.
The port register was kept from 1904 to 1922 and appears to have recorded all ships which used the wharves in chronological order. Ships calling at the other small ports of the Dee Estuary were not included, and the temptation is to see the register as a record from which invoices for port charges were compiled. Given the number of pieces of data and the long time period, an initial project was formulated to extract all the information for four years: 1905, 1906, 1912 and 1913. This was entered on a computer database which could then be analyzed using SPSS. All statements which follow based on this source were determined in this way.
The period 1900 to 1914 has been characterized as one of continuing depression in the international shipping industry. James considered 1901 to 1911 to have been an acute depression in shipping, while Sturmey considered the period 1904 to 1911 to have been “the first truly international shipping depression.“ More recently Aldcroft, examining ocean freight rates, the earnings of half a dozen British liner companies and the movement of earnings per ton of four British shipping firms, has concluded that “during the first decade of the twentieth century British shipping was more depressed than at any time during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.” Aldcroft admits the statistical basis of his conclusions “are very weak,” and indeed he presents no new index of freight rates to support his case, relying on data from Angier and Isserlis.
No cognizance has been taken of coastal freight rates in this period, and indeed not much is known generally about the movement of coastal freight rates. It has been established that coastal liner companies followed the practice of the railways in charging on an eight-fold classification based on the value of the good and the difficulty of handling it and that the coastal liner charged less than the railway for virtually all commodities and routes. However, there has been no attempt to look at a series of coastal freight rates to see how they fluctuated over time. Freight rates charged by liner companies were only one aspect of the coastal trade. There was also the tramping coaster, not tied to any specific route but going wherever there was a cargo to be carried and working to no published schedule of sailings but departing as and when the cargo had been loaded. Although the liner companies carried the higher-valued cargoes, leaving the bulkier, lower-valued commodities to be hauled by tramps, liners were almost certainly a minority of the total number of ships in the coastal trade and carried a smaller aggregate tonnage of goods than the tramp ships. Thus, to concentrate only on liner freight rates is to ignore charges made on the major portion of coastal trade. The single most important cargo carried by the coaster in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was coal.