Transition in Europe is one of the most important transformations in modern history. This research investigates the impact of economic and political transition on the liner sector of post-Soviet Europe. Former socialist shipping corporations have begun to offer services under market conditions and left behind the rigid leeway of central planning (Cottam and Roe 2007). Extensive adjustments in ownership, organisation, fleets and markets have transpired. Successful transformation of the maritime industries has a major influence upon the speed and route of economic development in transition countries (Von Brabant 2011). Despite this, liner shipping has received very little attention from academia. There have been no profound investigations, nor a recognised transition model concerning the Eastern European liner sector. However, developments within this field and its importance for liner shipping internationally make transition shipping a topic worthy of rigorous analysis. A review of Eastern European liner shipping during the period of transition was undertaken in order to assess the level of adaptation to the demands of the free market placed upon the Eastern European liner shipping corporations by the post-1989 transformations. Eastern European maritime literature supported the application of the concept from a transition context and assisted in the development of a conceptual model. The role of the model is to provide a visual representation of the most important elements of restructuring processes used in the facilitation of liner shipping in the European free market. Analysis of the research synthesis resulted in the identification of key dimensions crucial to successful transition. A three-tiered Delphi survey classified major areas of change and the relationship of changes to the liner industries. From a systemic point of view, research findings indicate the existence of a number of transitional processes utilised in the restructuring of liner shipping fleets. These are: liberalisation, deregulation, commercialisation, privatisation and European Union accession. Such processes are intricately linked and deeply dependent upon evolutionary timing and sequencing. A discussion of the results provides serious implications for world practitioners. Based on the findings of this study, European Union competitors may take advantage of the fact that transitional liner shipping has largely lost touch with market decisive players, although it has undergone broad privatisation and restructuring. Conversely, Eastern European liner corporations can analyse the effect of transition upon shipping, and draw comparisons between the varying techniques applied and the results achieved by national fleets in order to identify the most advantageous commercialisation strategies. Government initiative will now be required to overcome the conflict between the interest of the liner industry and that of the national citizen, such that there will be public acceptance of free competition, privatisation and foreign investment.

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