The worldwide maritime network of container shipping : spatial structure and regional dynamics
Institute for Transport en Maritime Management (ITMMA)
Global networks. - Place of publication unknown
, p. 395-423
University of Antwerp
Port and maritime studies dealing with containerization have observed traffic concentration and dispersion throughout the world. Globalization, intermodal transportation, and technological revolutions in the shipping industry have resulted in both network extension and rationalization. However, lack of precise data on inter-port relations prevent the application of wider network theories to global maritime container networks, which are often examined through case studies of specific firms or regions. In this article, we present an analysis of the global liner shipping network in 1996 and 2006, a period of rapid change in port hierarchies and liner service configurations. While we refer to literature on port system development, shipping networks, and port selection, the article is one of the only analyses of the properties of the global container shipping network. We analyse the relative position of ports in the global network through indicators of centrality. The results reveal a certain level of robustness in the global shipping network. While transhipment hub flows and gateway flows might slightly shift among nodes in the network, the network properties remain rather stable in terms of the main nodes polarizing the network and the overall structure of the system. In addition, mapping the changing centrality of ports confirms the impacts of global trade and logistics shifts on the port hierarchy and indicates that changes are predominantly geographic.