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Determinants of liner shipping network configuration - a two region comparison

Wilmsmeier, Gordon; Notteboom, Theo


Gordon Wilmsmeier

Theo Notteboom


The worldwide network of container transport services is becoming increasingly diffuse. The different strategies of shipping lines, the balance of power between shipping lines and shippers and constraints related to inland transportation all have a potential impact on the development of maritime shipping networks. Moreover, strategic alliances between the port and the shipping industry, which have both been driven by strong concentration processes and vertical integration, have a profound influence on the maritime network structure and also on the grade of integration of a region in the global maritime transport network. This paper seeks to understand the evolution of maritime networks in and between two differently developed regions. The focus is on the trade route and networks between the West Coast of South America and Northern Europe. The paper analyses the network structures and the behaviour of shipping lines in different economic contexts and port systems. Current and historical developments in the two regions under study have led to their relative position within the global maritime network and illustrate the potential implications of being peripheral or central in this network. The empirical results are compared with known strategies of shipping lines. The authors aim to answer the question of how far the configuration of hinterlands determines calling patterns and if strategic alliances and vertical integration reduce footloose behaviour of shipping lines. Further, we discuss how far, under the current configuration, shipping lines influence port development, and also the reverse situation of how far port accessibility and performance influence maritime network developments. The two region approach provides insights on the constraining factors of maritime network development between two differently developed regions and the associated implications for trade development.


Wilmsmeier, G., & Notteboom, T. (2011). Determinants of liner shipping network configuration - a two region comparison. GeoJournal, 76, 213-228.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011
Deposit Date Mar 12, 2012
Print ISSN 0343-2521
Electronic ISSN 1572-9893
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 76
Pages 213-228
Keywords Container liner networks; Europe; South America; Shipping lines; WCSA;
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