International Handbook of Maritime Business
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International Handbook of Maritime Business

Edited by Kevin Cullinane

The International Handbook of Maritime Business is a timely, comprehensive and insightful overview of the key contemporary research issues in maritime business.
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Chapter 2: Business Models, Supply Chain Efficiency and Port Efficiency: New Strategic Imperatives

Ross Robinson


Ross Robinson 1 Introduction: chain efficiency or port efficiency? More often than not, the Annual Report of any major port will, yearon-year, report an X per cent increase in freight tonnages handled and in cargo throughput, a Y per cent increase in port revenues, a commendable increase in profits and some optimism that the following year will be even better. Certainly, that news would be more encouraging to all stakeholders than a report on drastic losses! It may seem churlish, therefore, to remind decision makers, researchers and planners alike that the port is only one element among numerous other elements in a chain system delivering freight from supplier to customer; and that it is the chain (not any one element in the chain) that delivers value to the customer and the customer’s customer (Robinson, 2002). This perspective raises difficult strategic issues and the uncompromising issue that although the port may be operationally efficient it may in fact be efficient in an exceptionally inefficient chain – which suggests that its growth is a function not of its inherent efficiency per se but of the efficiency of the chain in which it is embedded. Is there not, then, a critical need for port strategists, and change masters in and around the chain system, to understand the dynamics and the architecture of the matrix of chains in which the port is embedded? This work takes the view that efficient chains will maximise throughput under high levels of business process integration; but that it will...

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