This paper aims to describe the history of the Swedish company Stena, especially its maritime division which conducts business activities within roro/ferries (Stena Line), tankers (Stena Bulk and Concordia Maritime), and drillships/rigs (Stena Offshore). It pays particular heed to technological innovation. Stena is in the shipping press and by people in the shipping industry often praised for its innovativeness especially concerning the development of the V-MAX shallowdraft extra wide crude oil carrier (2001), the HSS high speed ferry (1995), and the DrillMAX Ice - a drilling ship that can operate in icy waters (2011). Focusing on innovation at Stena, the paper pays particular attention to how this technological development has been managed, and the driving forces behind the innovations.
The paper draws firstly on archival studies both of some of Stena's internal archives as well as the shipping press, such as TradeWinds and the Swedish Shipping Gazette from 1939 to 2015, but with a particular focus from the 1960s onwards. Secondly, it draws on about 200 in-depth interviews with former and current people at Stena, competitors, and commentators.
To highlight a major trend in the technological development at Stena, I will draw on the concept of thymos. The concept is commonly known as the main virtue of the guardian class in platonic philosophy, but has gained renewed importance in the work of Francis Fukuyama, and more so in Peter Sloterdijk's work. Peter Sloterdijk means that too much of our understanding of the world and our role in it focuses on the concept of adaptation. Sloterdijk rather argues that people not only adapt but more importantly overreact (Cf. the book Neither Sun nor Death). Overreaction relates directly to thymos. In Rage and Time, Sloterdijk writes that thymos means “human pride, courage, stout-heartedness, craving for recognition, drive for justice, sense of dignity and honor, indignation, militant and vengeful energies” (p. 14).
In this paper, I read the innovations at Stena as manifestations of thymos and overreaction, and argue that all of the above mentioned innovations are the result of thymotic energies of different actors in the innovation process.