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Between path dependency and contingency: New challenges for the geography of port system evolution

Monios, Jason; Wilmsmeier, Gordon


Jason Monios

Gordon Wilmsmeier


Seaports play a critical role as gateways and facilitators of economic interchange and logistics processes and thus have become crucial nodes in globalised production networks andmobility systems. Both the physical port infrastructure and its operational superstructure have undergone intensive evolution processes in an effort to adapt to changing economic environments, technological advances,maritime industry expectations and institutional reforms. The results, in terms of infrastructure, operator models and the role of an individual port within the port
system, vary by region, institutional and economic context. While ports have undoubtedly developed in scale to respond to the changing volumes and structures in geographies of trade (Wilmsmeier, 2015), the development of hinterland access infrastructure, regulatory systems and institutional structures have in many instances lagged behind. The resulting bottlenecks reflect deficits in the interplay between the economic system and the factors defining port development (e.g. transport demand, the structure of trade, transport services, institutional capacities, etc. cf. Cullinane and Wilmsmeier, 2011). There is a wide range of case study approaches and analyses of individual ports, but analyses from a port system perspective are less common, and those that exist are seldom critical of the dominant discourse assuming the efficiency of market competition (cf. Debrie et al., 2013).
This special section aims to capture the spectrum of approaches in current geography research on port system evolution. Thus, the papers reach from the traditional spatial approach (Rodrigue and Ashar, this volume) to network analysis (Mohamed-Chérif and Ducruet, this volume) to institutional discussions (Vonck and Notteboom, this volume; Wilmsmeier and Monios, this volume). The selection of papers allows an opening of discussion and reflection on current research, necessary critical analysis of the influences on port systemevolution and,most importantly, future directions. The remainder of this editorial aims to reflect on these challenges and identify the potential for future research.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 13, 2016
Online Publication Date Feb 13, 2016
Publication Date 2016-02
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Aug 14, 2017
Journal Journal of Transport Geography
Print ISSN 0966-6923
Electronic ISSN 1873-1236
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Pages 247-251
Keywords Geography; seaports; evolution;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date May 15, 2017


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