Theo Notteboom, PortEconomics co-director, gave a presentation on ‘Short sea shipping in motion: the contribution of academic research in the period 1980 – 2015’ at the closing plenary session of the GPRA conference (Global Port Research Alliance) held in Hong Kong on 21 and 22 May 2015. The early 1990s saw a growing interest in shortsea shipping (SSS) both in academic and policy circles. This was particularly visible in Europe where shortsea shipping and the later ‘Motorways of the Sea concept’ gained in importance on the transport policy agenda. During that time, academia, policy-makers and the business community started to have meetings in view of creating the best possible conditions for shortsea shipping to flourish. Influential gatherings included the European research round table conferences held in Delft (1992), Athens (1994) and Bergen (1996). Also the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT, later renamed to International Transport Forum – ITF) of the OECD contributed to the discussion via Round Tables and publications (see e.g. Round Table 89 published in 1993 and the work by Papadimitriou and Zachzial, 2001). Psaraftis and Schinas (1996) were the first to present a comprehensive analysis of research on shortsea shipping. They identified 442 shortsea shipping studies between 1990 and 1996 dealing with a broad array of themes from engineering, economics, logistics, management, policy and regulation. They concluded SSS research is highly fragmented.
During his speech, Theo presented a taxonomy and analysis of the content of published research on shortsea shipping. More in particular, he provided a systematic analysis of 167 shortsea shipping related papers published in international academic journals between 1980 and May 2015 and with a strong economic or managerial focus. The strong increase of SSS-related academic papers since the early 2000s suggests a growing interest in the academic study of shortsea shipping. By analyzing the themes, approaches and findings of all relevant journal papers he tried to assess the level of maturity in this research domain, to understand the interaction with the policy level and business practice and to identify emerging research challenges and themes. Theo concluded by stating that SSS-related research is a fast emerging research field, but not a mature field yet. There is still fragmentation and a lack of confirmative studies. There clearly is a call for more research on SSS not only in Europe but also in Asia, the Americas and Africa.
You may freely download Theo’s presentation @PortEconomics