Relevant strategic criteria when choosing a container port: the case of the port of Genoa
Faculty of Applied Economics
Leeuwenhorst , 2008
Proceedings of the European Transport Conference, Leeuwenhorst, The Netherlands, 06-08/10/2008
University of Antwerp
The purpose of this paper is to identify which are the main factors and criteria influencing the decision of choosing a port. When analyzing these factors it is relevant bearing in mind that the choices of the economic actors are based on several and different elements. Such elements are related not only to the technical characteristics of the port, but also and increasingly more to hinterland and logistic services. Ports act as interfaces between different actors, such as road, rail, inland waterway, maritime transport and logistics operators. Therefore, it is important to determine the key factors that guide the users in choosing a specific port. Such factors are most relevant for improving the performance and the competitive advantage of a port in the market. Efficiency gains, which are generated within the container port, will have a direct impact on the competitive advantage of its users and affect the economic potential of both origin and destination hinterlands. The Port of Genoa is one of the main ports in the Southern European Range and given its favorable position in the north of the Mediterranean Sea constitutes a strategic node for the traffic flows toward Central Europe. The role of the Port of Genoa is rather crucial in the current European policies, the TEN-T project identify the Rotterdam-Genoa rail freight corridor as one of the most urgent action for promoting a better distribution of the freight transport in the European Union. For meeting the abovementioned purpose a methodology has been developed which is based on qualitative analysis. A detailed review of the relevant literature reveals a considerable range of factors affecting the decision of port choice. This first theoretical step is complemented by a field survey. A questionnaire has been developed and submitted to a sample of around 30 companies, namely shipping companies, freight forwarders and shippers, currently operating in the port of Genoa. Some of the relevant elements for the users and which constitute strategic criteria in the decision making process of choosing a port are: availability of efficient equipment, access to the hinterland of the port through rail and road connections, freight charges for the service, operational performance of the port, transit time, port service reliability, possibility to have logistics facilities, availability of added value services and presence of electronic data tools. This list gives an overview of what can affect the behavior of the companies in choosing a port. The results of the present paper show that, both from a theoretical point of view and also from the data collected through the interviews, the criteria of choosing a port can be distinguished in two main groups: the port services available and the hinterland connections. It is discussed how these factors are evaluated from the users perspective and which is the role that each factor can play in the strategy of decision making process.