Market Structure, Sustainability and Decision Making
NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research
Edited by Thomas Vanoutrive and Ann Verhetsel
Chapter 2: Nothing remains the same! Port competition revisited
Science evolves quickly, and transport economics is certainly no exception, as its rapid development over the past decades has shown (Blauwens et al., 2010). Within the field of transport economics, port competition remains an important topic of study (for example, Van de Voorde and Vanelslander, 2010; Ersini et al., 2011; Gaur et al., 2011; Veldman et al.,2011). The amount of research attention it attracts is due to its socioeconomic significance: depending on the competitive strength of a port, throughput volumes can be enormous and the impact in terms of industrial investment and employment quite substantial. Moreover the field of port economics itself has also evolved considerably. In the past, the literature has tended to treat ports as rather homogeneous entities. A good example of this ‘old’ approach is found in Verhoeff (1981), where ports are considered to compete with one another at different operational levels: within the national territory for goods and investments in additional infrastructure; within the port cluster (that is, a group of ports in each other’s vicinity with common geographical characteristics)for a shared hinterland; and within the port range (that is, ports located along the same coastline or largely overlapping hinterlands) for investment and traffic, especially from areas where the spheres of influence of different ranges overlap.
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