The institutional plasticity and path dependence in seaports is the theme of a new port study by PortEconomics co-directors Theo Notteboom and Peter de Langen, in collaboration with Wouter Jacobs, associate member of PortEconomics.
The study deals with path dependence in seaport governance. A central notion in this respect is lock-in. Economic geographers have recently started to reconsider the deterministic perspective on lock-in and developed the concept of institutional plasticity. Such plasticity is the result of actions of actors to purposefully ‘recombine and convert or reinterpret institutions for their new objectives or transfer institutions to different contexts’ (Strambach, 2010). This concept is applied to seaports, where so far, path dependence and lock-in have not been studied in detail. Our main conclusion is that a process of institutional stretching takes place when port authorities see a need to develop new capabilities and activities. In this process new layers are added to existing arrangements, gradually leading to a formalized governance reform but without breaking out of the existing path of development.
The study is published in a special issue of the scholarly journal Journal of Transport Geography on the theme of “Institutions and the Transformation of Transport Nodes” that has been edited by Adolf and Thanos in collaboration with Prof. Peter Hall (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver CA).
You might download the authors’ version of the study @ PortEconomics:
Read more about the special issue: Institutions and the Transformation of Transport Nodes