Evaluating port authorities reform

The activities of a port authority form but one of several factors that can con- tribute to the competitiveness of a port. A port authority can increase its contribution by optimising the various functions it performs in a facilitating and entrepreneurial manner. Port authority reform matters in that it must set the right governance framework for port authorities to achieve their full potential contribution to the competitiveness of their ports.

PortEconomics member Patrick Verhoeven, joined by Eddy van de Voorde proceed to an ex-post evaluation of port authority reforms in a study that is now published in the International Journal of Transport Economics. 

The study complements existing literature and empirical research on the role of port authorities with a theoretical perspective on how to measure the specific economic impact of port authority reform and understand the process of reform and post- reform governance.  Patrick and Eddy outline an analytical framework to assess both elements in a quantitative and qualitative manner. The centrepiece of the framework is based on welfare economics concepts. The study introduces a methodology based on techniques of cost-benefit analysis and generalised costs to measure the economic impact of port au- thority reform on the competitiveness of a port. The application of the framework for ex- post evaluation will allow policy-makers to identify areas of further improvement and will offer useful insights for those envisaging new reform schemes.

You might download the study @ the website of Internaional Journal of Transport Economics: Van de Voorde, E. and Verhoeven, P. (2014), The Economics of Port Authority Reform: A Framework for Ex-post Evaluation, International Journal of Transport Economics, XLI(3): 297-326.


Challenges to port restructuring: Lessons from (failed) reforms


During the Irish Ports Association 2013 Conference, held in Dublin, PortEconomics co-director Τhanos Pallis presented the lessons that European ports and policy makers might learn from cases of countries that failed to conclude port reforms, extracting lessons from the Greek case 

The 2013 IPA conference brought together an elite panel of speakers that looked at recent policy developments in Ireland and beyond, as well as presented examples from around the world as to how ports have adapted and responded to changing regulatory environments.

Thanos discribed the long journey of the Greek state to reform the Greek port system, in the light of the country's program restructuring the national economy. The emphasis of the presentation is on the lessons that were learnt during the first major concession of a container terminal in Greece to a private operator (the COSCO subsidiary SEP), the remarkably slow progress of the country's privitisation program, the remaining challenges, the need to focus on labour reforms, and not least the necessity to accommodate a demand that has few, if any, commonalities with the demand of the past.

All these under the prism that other EU member-states as well as the European port policies might be informed by failures, successes and progress of what happened in other European countries attempting to reform their ports.

You might freely download the presentation @ PortEconomics:


French seaports: Assessing the new governance structure

The new governance structure of French seaports is the theme of the port study presented by PortEconomics member Pierre Cariou along with Dagnet Frederic, from Grand Port Maritime de Marseille, France and Fedi Laurent, Euromed Management, France during the annual conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists - IAME 2013, that was held in Marseilles, France.

France undertook a large port reform in 2008 that entered into application in 2010–2011. It mostly applies a landlord port model to major French seaports, with the prediction that doing so will restore French port competiveness.

The port study presents the 2008 port reform, discusses why it was needed, and details how new governing bodies are sharing their responsibilities amongst themselves. To this end, a textual analysis of the agenda items for the governing bodies of the Marseille Port Authority, created since 2011, provides a means to compare the items discussed by the former management bodies. The study identifies a trend, in which the supervisory board focuses on global issues, the advisory board addresses local issues, and the board of directors considers internal issues.

You may freely download the paper @PortEconomics:


Performance effects of the Port of Rotterdam Authority Corporatisation

The performance effects of the corporatisation of Port of Rotterdam Authority is the theme of a new port study conducted by PortEconomics co-director Peter de Langen, in collaboration with Christiaan Heij.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is a publicly owned but corporatized port development company. In 2004, this organisation was transformed from a municipal department to an independently operating company. The corporatisation intended to improve the overall performance of the port of Rotterdam. Relevant performance indicators to evaluate the effect of this corporatisation include market share, turnover, operating costs, profits, and investments. These indicators are evaluated for two periods, one prior to the corporatisation (1997-2003) and the other afterwards (2005-2011). The comparison of these two periods shows that corporatisation has led to significant performance improvements. This finding is relevant for the ongoing discussion on port governance models.

The research paper is now publised by the Econometric Institute of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, in as part of its series Econometric Institute Reports.

You can freely download the report @PortEconomics:


Shaping port governance: Τhe territorial trajectories of reform

Τhe territorial trajectories of port governance reform is the theme of a new port study by PortEconomics associate member Francesco Paola, in in collaboration with Jean Debrie and Valérie Lavaud-Letilleul.

The evolution of public-private relationships has driven many economic sectors to undergo de-centralisation and deregulation. Across these transformations, an appreciation of governance is key to understanding the process. In recent years, seaports have experienced dramatic changes in governance reported in academic and policy literature. The World Bank, for example, outlined a well known taxonomy of major governance models. However, this literature does not capture of the specificities of local environments, or "embed" the changes in specific institutional and economic contexts. This study analyses the embeddedness in ports and their associated governance structures. The study analyse and discuss (i) the complexity and the heterogeneity of the institutional framework, (ii) the multi-layered decisional chain, (iii) the geo-economic dimension, and (iv) and the socio-cultural environment of reformed ports. The paper takes a dynamic view of port reform trajectories and illustrate the theoretical discussion with a comparison of ports in France and Italy, showing the effects of local forces in shaping general national port reform schemes, and examining the relationship between general global trends and embeddedness.

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 PortEconomics members Adolf Ng and Thanos Pallis, in collaboration with Prof. Peter Hall (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver CA).

You might download the authors' version of the study @ PortEconomics: icon Shaping port governance: the territorial trajectories of reform

Read more about the special issue: Institutions and the Transformation of Transport Nodes


Port Development in Europe: Prospects & Challenges

PortEconomics ass. member Patrick Verhoeven delivered an invited lecture on "Port Development in Europe – Prospects and Challenges", participating at the Old Dominion University- Maritime Institute Speaker Series. The lecture took place at Norfolk Virginia, US.

During his lecture, Patrick focused on the governance implications of the operational, spatial and societal dimensions of port developments. Patrick concluded presenting an overview of the latest developments of the European Port Policy.

Patrick's lecture is available @ PortEconomicsicon Port Development in Europe

Verheoven Virginia 
Following the lecture at OWIT Hampton Road, Virginia Norfolk: (from left) Prof. Wayne Talley, director of the Old Dominion Maritime Institute, Patrick Verhoeven, Sara Russel and Larry Filer.

Governance of European seaports – Economic and societal challenges

PortEconomics ass. member Patrick Verhoeven delivered the inaugural lecture at the Apulian distinguished lectures series, sharing with the audience his thoughts on the governance of seaports and the economic and societal challenges that today's port authorities are facing.

The Apulian distinguished lectures series are held in Brindisi, Italy, and are a joint initiative by the Region Puglia, the City of Brindisi, the University of Salento and the Port Authority of Brindisi. The project is co-ordinated by the President of the Port of Brindisi Prof. Hercules Haralambides.2012-Brindizi

Patrick shared with participants views on a subject which is close to his heart, both in my daily activities for the European Sea Ports Organisation, which cares for the common interests of more than 800 port authorities in Europe, and, also in his academic work at the University of Antwerp.

In particular Patrick discussed three issues:
- the evolution of the port concept;
- the changing role of port authorities and the future options they have;
- the governance factors that influence the performance of port authorities.

You can freely download the presentation @ PortEconomicsicon Governance of European seaports – Economic and societal challenges.


Port conflicts & governance settings: Evidence from France & Italy

Francesco Parola delivered a presentation (in French), together with his colleagues Valérie Lavaud, Anne Cadoret and Salvatore Maugeri, themed "Analyser les conflits portuaires pour comprendre les dynamiques et la gouvernance portuaires. Une comparaison de Sète, Gênes et Naples", at the Journées Internationales sur la gouvernance et les communauté portuaire en Europe.

The speech provided an overview on the major sources of conflicts within the port domain, also depicting the most critical phases in the evolution of port governance settings in France and Italy.

The Conference was organised within the research project GeCOPe (2009-2011) coordinated by Dr. Eric Foulquier (Université de la Bretagne Occidentale) and it was held at the École Nationale Supérieure Maritime in Nantes (France).

For more information about the presentation contact Francesco @ francesco.parola@uniparthenope.it
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The PortEconomics Initiative

PortEconomics is a web-based initiative aiming to advance knowledge exchange on seaport studies. Established by maritime economists affiliated to academic institutions in Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands. It provides freely accessible research, education, information, and network-building material on critical issues of port economics, management and policies. The main objectives of PortEconomics are: (a) to develop and promote resources for increased quality port studies; (b) to disseminate the activities and cutting-edge port research and analysis conducted by the group members and associates; and (c) to foster a knowledge exchange network of scholars, policy-makers, practitioners and students interested in port studies.

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