Supplement | HBS Case Collection | January 2013

Austal, Ltd. (B)

by Willy Shih, Margaret Pierson and Dawn H. Lau

Abstract

Austal, Ltd. was an Australian builder of high-speed passenger ferries. It had translated that expertise into a foothold in the defense market on the US Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program with an Alabama assembly facility. In January 2009 it had just completed the construction of its first LCS, but the global economic crisis put the company in a difficult position. Its commercial order book had dried up, yet it needed to preserve capabilities in its Australian workforce in now underutilized facilities near where its design capabilities were centered. Was this a short term problem, or had the commercial market changed forever? The (A) case examines possibilities that the company might pursue to bridge the presumed gap until market conditions improve, and the (B) case recounts some of those choices. The case focuses on the question of the importance for Austal to maintain manufacturing close to its design center, and how will it do this as its center of gravity increasingly shifts to other regions?

Keywords: Geographic Location; Global Strategy; Globalized Markets and Industries; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Ship Transportation; Transportation Industry; Australia; United States; Alabama; Philippines;

Citation:

Shih, Willy, Margaret Pierson, and Dawn H. Lau. "Austal, Ltd. (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 613-026, January 2013.