Abstract: Pushing the Boundaries of Integrity? Det Norske Veritas and South Korean Shipbuilding, 1976-1986

Kristoffer Lund Langlie


For classification societies, the concept of integrity is of paramount importance. Such societies establish and maintain technical standards for ships and mobile offshore units, and are central to the regulative scheme within the maritime industries. To keep being central, they need to maintain a reputation for being honest, technologically capable, and an independent and impartial third-party actor. This paper will look at how this concept of integrity was challenged for the Norwegian classification society Det Norske Veritas (DNV) during the 1980s, seen through the context of the South Korean shipbuilding industry. The society gradually began doing work as a technological consultant to inexperienced Korean shipyards, thus stepping out of its traditional role as a neutral third-party actor. This proved successful as a way for DNV to enter the rapidly growing Korean market. However, it also led to a loss of trust from DNV's established client-base. Ultimately, DNV's perceived loss of integrity meant that the classification society had to readdress its role as a consultant.