Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2005 (Revised December 2015)

Aristotle Onassis and the Greek Shipping Industry

by Geoffrey Jones and Paul Gomopoulos


Examines the career of Aristotle Onassis and his creation of one of the world's largest shipping companies between 1945 and 1973. Explores the role of ethnic and family networks in Greek shipping and how Onassis was able to penetrate this system despite being an outsider. Looks at Onassis' role as a strategic innovator in flags of convenience and supertankers. Examines the dynamics of competitive advantage in shipping, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of family-owned firms. Ends with the death of Onassis' only son in 1973 and the resulting vacuum in succession.

Keywords: Networks; Ethnicity; Family Business; Innovation Strategy; Management Succession; Competitive Advantage; Personal Development and Career; Shipping Industry; Greece;


Jones, Geoffrey, and Paul Gomopoulos. "Aristotle Onassis and the Greek Shipping Industry." Harvard Business School Case 805-141, May 2005. (Revised December 2015.)