The shipping industry facilitates domestic and global manufacturing and trade via transportation of commodities and finished products, while also providing for the delivery of goods directly to consumers. A wide variety of commercial transport methods can be found in the shipping industry, from bulk transport of commodities in railcars to highly specialized “intermodal” container shipping. Four major modes of transport exist in this industry: marine, air, rail, and freight (trucking).
Shipping companies use an organizational structure to help outline the functions of their company. This structure can be centralized around one individual or decentralized, allowing several individuals some responsibility.
A common shipping organizational structure separates business functions by type, such as administrative, accounting, technical and shipping, among others depending on the company’s size. Publicly held companies will have a board of directors as their top management level.
An organizational structure creates a system for individuals to observe and follow when making decisions, allocating resources or adding new shipments to their operations. International shipping companies may also have an international division in the structure to run these operations.
While executive officers typically govern the top-level manager of each division, they may also have some authority over the fleet of ships involved in the operations. This allows the executive officers to make changes in their operations as needed to adjust operations according to current economic conditions.