Chapter 4.1 – Port Governance and Reform

Author: Dr. Athanasios Pallis

Port governance issues have become central to the port policy agendas. Governments revisited the objectives of ports and reformed existing structures and strategies to match the contemporary economic environment.

1. Port Governance

A. Defining port governance

Governance principles are most important in the case of ports. Ports are critical infrastructure for an economy, contributing to the realization of trade and movement. At the same time, port management, operations, and development are capital intensive, consume (public) scarce land, generate externalities (noise, emissions), and involve many decision-makers and stakeholders such as the port authority, terminal operators, rail operators, trucking companies, logistics providers, and port-cities.

Port governance is the adoption and enforcement of rules governing conduct and exercising authority and institutional resources to develop and manage port activities to benefit society and the economy.

Port governance concerns the public as well as the private sectors but tends to apply differently depending on whether public or private interests are at stake. Its features are imposed by governments or adopted voluntarily by entities, groups, or associations. Its principles apply to relationships between businesses, public/private agencies and their stakeholders, organizations, and those who establish them to undertake activities on their behalf.Port governance concerns the public as well as the private sectors but tends to apply differently depending on whether public or private interests are at stake. Its features are imposed by governments or adopted voluntarily by entities, groups, or associations. Its principles apply to relationships between businesses, public/private agencies and their stakeholders, organizations, and those who establish them to undertake activities on their behalf.

The trends in (global) trade and in transport are vital for port governance, as they define the environment within which ports operate. Since the 1980s, port governance has become central to the agendas of many governments. A changing economic environment produced by the globalization of production and distribution, changing cargo transportation forms, and technological breakthroughs ended a long period of stable, state-controlled (public) port governance models in most countries. As economic circumstances changed, so too were changes, albeit slowly, made to port governance structures. Many governments entered a port reform period to adapt to a new context, changing applicable governance structures. 

The objectives of port governance are decided within a given economic context, where trends in global trade, the facilitation of this trade, transport organization, and related agreements and logistics inform the decisions of policymakers at the national, regional, or local/port level. Besides, the applications of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), along with the resulting e-governance mechanisms, readjust the operational and commercial relationships within the port community, increasingly informing port-governance changes.

In the absence of a perfect port governance prototype, the features of the applied port governance models differ. In fact, the variety increases as decision-makers adjust port governance and reevaluate the existing configurations within broader perspectives that involve:

  • A multi-modal vision of ports and their governance considers the importance of logistics integration and inland freight distribution. This requires stakeholder management approaches as the scope of coordination beyond price between actors involved is essential, and opportunistic behavior could limit trust and infrastructure for solving collective action problems. Within such a multi-modal perspective, the notion of port governance includes spatial-jurisdictional scales, stakeholder relations (internal, external, public policy, and community), and logistical capabilities
  • A broader stakeholder engagement aiming to address all economic, operational, social, and cultural variables linked with port management, operations, and development.

B. Port governance objectives

Governments or other relevant policymakers impose structures of port governance with particular policy objectives in mind. The strategic objectives that may drive the choice of port governance model involve maximizing:

  • Traffic throughput.
  • Return on investment.
  • Profits for shareholders.
  • Traffic throughput subject to a maximum allowable operating deficit.
  • Economic development prospects at the local or national levels.

The full range of objectives varies across the world as ports are as much interested in economic development as they are in serving commercial and trading interests. Most ports see their roles as complex, with multiple objectives, and as having national and regional, and local impacts. They serve more than just their customers or their communities. They are in the business of balancing multiple roles and expectations. Ports determine their objectives to cope with government regulators (or owners), customers, local community stakeholders, and managers (or shareholders).

Optimising economic development prospects is the objective most frequently chosen by major ports, as well as by small ones with ambitions to grow. Ports owned and managed by the government most commonly seek “to enhance the contribution of the port and shipping related activities to the economy” (i.e., Hong-Kong) or “to advance and safeguard the country’s strategic maritime interests” (i.e., Singapore). Private ports focus on profit, sale, and development opportunities or on increasing financial value for their shareholders. Yet, even private ports consider the economic value they may generate for their local community.

C. Port governance tasks

With ports being multifaceted organizations depending on numerous functions, port governance involves decisions regarding the execution of several different tasks. These tasks are frequently interlinked and might be responsible for one or more public or private entities operating at the port or another level. Each of them is related to one of the following groups of port governance tasks:

D. Port governance configuration

The interactions between the responsible government department (ministry or other relevant policy actors), the entity responsible for the management and operation of the port, and the involved private actors offering services are key for the governance model. This model is defined by the configuration of three inputs:

  • The strategy, namely objectives, decisions about its market scope, and the business plan, as developed by the port authority (PA).
  • The structure, which is implemented as a result of government regulations and policies, and the strategy selected by the PA.
  • The contextual environment in which a port operates, which has both controllable and uncontrollable factors.

Establishing a port governance model is a process unfolding over time. Governments, or other relevant policymakers, usually impose governance structures with particular objectives in mind. These objectives are set at the national, regional, or port level as economic circumstances change. The scope of governance is to adjust strategies and corporate goals in order to align with the contextual economic environment.

Informed by the performance of a port or a port system, and changes in the economic context, the responsible institutions initiate changes in the structures and strategies of the respective ports aiming to generate a matching framework. In the absence of a better framework, these inputs produce an output (performance), the quality of which results from the consistency of the considered inputs. When considering the environment-structure-strategy triptych, two configurations emerge:

  • First Configuration. Characterized by an environment of low uncertainty, low complexity, and dynamism. It is an efficiency-oriented strategy that focuses on delivering the essential services and a mechanistic structure of centralized decision-making characterized by procedural standardization.
  • Second Configuration. Characterized by a highly uncertain environment with an effectiveness-oriented strategy offering peripheral products and services in addition to essential services. It is an organic structure of decentralized decision-making.

E. Realignment of port governance

Once in place, a port governance model can be reevaluated and subject to realignments. Governance models are revisited to fix any misalignment in the framework or fit changing economic circumstances. Another reason is to incorporate feedback from the port or its regulators as the reforms unfold in practice. Two conclusions can be drawn from the examination of port governance models in place around the world. First, combining inputs does not always result in a fit of the objectives based on optimal performance. Second, while governments may have had the best intentions in establishing a more commercialized footing for port operations, port governance reforms have not always delivered the full benefits sought.

Correcting these mismatches requires that a port links its governance model to their performance. Port performance is the output of a governance configuration. Performance deficiencies are partially the by-products of inconsistent governance frameworks, either because of their flaws or because frameworks appropriate to particular objectives have not been imposed as anticipated. This misallocation encourages a realignment of the components of governance models. Therefore, decision-makers must know how the models have failed to deliver if this was the conclusion drawn in a particular context. A prerequisite is developing indicators that detail the exact components of this performance, the agents involved in measuring these components, and, at a port level, prioritizing the performance components.

Linking outcomes to objectives enables a feedback mechanism for the next cycle of port governance review. The process of evaluating port performance begins by understanding the objectives of both the port reform process and the configuration of objectives carried by the port authority. The full consideration of efficiency and effectiveness performance can be used to inform future port reform decisions. When all stakeholders are satisfied with the outcomes, there is little impetus to move further. If, on the other hand, some stakeholders are dissatisfied with the outcomes, governance objectives have not been met. This prompts changes to the imposed port governance model, how the PA configures itself in response to the imposed model (and accompanying regulation), or to the management team. Governments can also be tempted to intervene if they are not pleased with performance. In the same way, stakeholders can lobby governments if they are dissatisfied, and port users can stop using the facilities.

2. Towards Modern Port Governance

A. Waves of port reform

Successive waves of port governance reforms, management, and organization have taken place worldwide since the 1990s. They have been the response to the globalization of production and consumption, the ongoing growth in maritime trade, and, more specifically, the booming demand for container transport and its supporting infrastructure provided by container ports and terminal operators. These reforms have increased the autonomy of port-level authorities to act and introduced a more active role for private firms in providing port services.

The first wave of port reforms took place in the 1990s and early 2000s when a number of developed and developing economies expanded the involvement of private actors in port operations and management. The core theme was the devolution of port management and operational responsibility and, to a lesser extent, the transfer of port assets from local public (decentralized) entities to private commercially driven corporate port entities. Some of these port entities are today listed on international stock markets. Commonly, the public sector retains a supervisory and monitoring role, disassociated from the provision of services and port operations, beyond the ownership of the port. In some cases, though (like the UK), there is no national agency monitoring ports. In the absence of consensus on the most appropriate governance model, implementing the planned reforms proved to be excessively challenging for many governments.

The second wave of port governance reforms is in progress. The restructuring of national port systems continues, as does the quest for identifying the most appropriate allocation of governance structures and management responsibilities, and this for two main reasons. First, ports continue to seek suitable models for optimum performance outcomes, how best to lower entry barriers to acquire the benefits of intra-port competition, reform port labor, and best engage local stakeholders in efforts to improve port hinterland access. Second, despite the best intentions, the first wave of reforms has not always delivered the expected benefits. Even though port governance configurations are rarely in place for long enough to observe clear consequences or outcomes, decision-makers implement adjustments ranging from relatively simple fine-tuning to complete reversal of previous decisions.

The broader macroeconomic circumstances informed these reforms. The global economic crisis of 2008 provided the impetus for many port reforms, in particular the transition towards the full implementation of the landlord model, in order to devolve operational responsibility to the private sector and cut costs, often with the specific objectives of improving efficiency, increasing volumes and enhancing profitability. 

Recently, legislative adjustments have been more complex. As reforms in several countries in Asia and Europe illustrate:

  • There is no longer a single port reform theme, such as devolution or opening the market to private terminal operators, as was the case in the 1990s. For instance, Italy is now encouraging the merger of port authorities, Greece has changed from corporatizing the state-owned enterprises managing ports to their full privatization. In countries such as Korea, and China, the national port system is still very dependent on government policies and action plans. Canada is exploring ways to enhance transparency in the port sector while Colombia seeks to re-establish authority in the national port system that was privatized in the early 1990s.
  • Ports, governments, and stakeholders have moved away from a belief in a single port governance model. Some commonalities exist in terms of both the issues that decision-makers have attempted to address and the observed reforms in anticipated response. The precise level of desired state intervention in the port sector remains a theme of utmost controversy and discussion in several countries.

B. Types of endorsed reforms

full spectrum of port governance models ranging from public to privately managed port activities remains in place, even after the second wave of reforms since 2000. The typology of the different paths endorsed can be summarized as follows:

  • Privatization. The full transfer of asset ownership (including land) to a privately-owned for-profit entity. The retained role of the government is to regulate the transferred entity. Very few countries, such as the UK and New Zealand, have applied a fully privatized port governance system, including the privatization of the port land. In other cases, privatization is commonly used as a term for the long-lived transfer of management rights of ports to private entities by selling the (corporatized) public governing port authority to a private company.
  • Commercialization. Governments have withdrawn from the operation of transportation infrastructure while retaining its ownership. The most commonly endorsed port governance model worldwide is the concessions of rights to manage and operate terminals or provide port services to third parties and is a form of commercialization.
  • Decentralization. Decentralization of oversight responsibility from the national to the local level increases local responsiveness and flexibility, and often accompanies commercialization. In some cases, this reallocation of responsibility within the public sector includes transferring ownership to a local government entity. A few countries have chosen to either commercialize or decentralize their port infrastructure. However, most have moved towards more commercial approaches by adopting concessions.
  • Corporatization. A particular form of commercialization involves creating a separate legal corporate entity, which takes on the legal responsibility to provide the functions or services mandated in its charter or by-laws. The distinguishing feature of corporatization is the creation of a legal entity with shares. Corporatization has been a key governance model imposed in many countries. Considerable debate exists about whether corporatization, either through the issuance of share capital or via the creation of purpose-driven entities for the state), has been particularly successful.

The majority of the largest ports have implemented commercialized or corporatized governance structures. They have also endorsed ways to increase the participation of the private sector via the provision of public activities and public-private partnerships, including infrastructure development through build-operate-transfer schemes or the operation of terminal facilities through concession agreements. Mixed governance models incorporating contracted management are also present. Many ports continue to remain government-owned and government-managed, although they may have been decentralized.

A few ports are listed on stock exchanges. In Europe, this is the case of some ports in the UK and the two major Greek ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. In many cases, corporatization has taken place with the issuance of share capital. Still, the government has retained a majority of the shares, and the issuance has not been accompanied by public listing.

Main types of Public Private Partnerships

3. Contemporary Port Governance Models

A. Public and private roles in port management

There are five main models based upon the respective responsibility of the public and private sectors in port management:

  • Public service ports. The port authority of public service ports performs the whole range of port-related services and owns all the infrastructure. They are commonly a branch of a government ministry, and most of their employees are civil servants. Some ancillary services can be left to private companies. Because of the related inefficiencies, the number of public service ports has declined.
  • Tool ports. Like every aspect of a public service port, the tool port differs only in the private handling of its cargo operations, albeit the port authority still owns all or part of the terminal equipment. In several cases, a tool port is a transitional form between a public service port and a landlord port.
  • Landlord ports. Represents the most common management model where infrastructure, particularly terminals, is leased to private operating companies with the port authority retaining control of the land where the port develops either by owning it or via retaining the rights for exclusive exploitation (as granted by the competent public authority). The most common form of lease is a concession agreement where a private company is granted a long-term lease in exchange for a rent that is commonly a function of the size of the facility as well as the investment required to build, renovate or expand the terminal. Private port operators provide and maintain their superstructure, including buildings (e.g., offices, sheds, warehouses, container freight stations, workshops), and private terminal operators employ dock labor. The private operator is also responsible for providing terminal equipment so that operating standards are maintained. Today this is the dominant port model in larger and medium-sized ports. The popularity of the model, particularly within Europe and the Americas, is undoubted. Still, it has a number of variants, depending upon the level of decentralization and autonomy of the port authority involved, the cultural disposition of the country considered, the division of infrastructure investments (such as quay walls, terminal surface, etc..) between the PA and the private terminal operators, or the level of involvement of the landlord in furthering and enhancing port activities.
  • Corporatized ports. This concerns ports that have almost entirely been privatized, with the exception that ownership remains public and is often assumed as a majority shareholder. The port authority essentially behaves like a private enterprise. This management model is unique since it is the only one where ownership and control are separated, which lessens the “public good” pressures landlord port authorities face and the “shareholder value” pressures private ports face.
  • Private service ports. This is the outcome of complete privatization of the port facility with a mandate that the facilities retain their maritime role. The port authority is entirely privatized, with almost all the port functions under private control, with the public sector retaining a standard regulatory oversight. Still, public entities can be shareholders and thus gear the port towards strategies deemed to be in the public interest.

These models are applied to ports with different characteristics concerning the ownership of infrastructure, equipment, terminal operation, and models for port services provision. While service and tool ports mostly exist to promote public interests, landlord ports attempt to balance public and private interests. At the other end of the spectrum, private service ports are maximizing the interests of their shareholders.

B. Public ownership remains dominant

Public ownership of ports is still a dominant feature of port governance, with few fully privatized ports, especially amongst the largest. There are five types of port governance associated with port ownership approaches, moving from the most centralized public ownership and management to the most private sector-oriented:

  • Central government-owned with central government management and control.
  • Government-owned but management and control are decentralized to a local government body.
  • Government-owned (national, regional, or municipal) but managed and controlled by a corporatized entity.
  • Government-owned but managed by a private sector entity via a concession or lease arrangement, or owned and managed via a public-private partnership agreement.
  • Wholly privately owned, managed, and controlled.

In some cases, government ownership means that there is no port authority but a government department responsible for port policy. In contrast, some countries have created a single port authority as the custodian of all major seaports (i.e., South Africa’s Transnet National Ports Authority or TNPA, one of the divisions of state-owned company Transnet) or several ports (i.e. Romania) with no port-level port authority.

The presence of port authorities governing more than one port is a port governance approach that has recently been applied in Italy, where the national government decided to merge the managing entities of several ports in geographical proximity, forming what is now called “Port System Authorities”, which have the responsibility for governing multiple ports. 

C. The extensive use of concessions

Port governance models based on concessions of rights to operate and provide port services, with the public sector retaining port ownership and the landlord port authority role, are the most common practice worldwide. This trend has been accelerated by containerization and the development of container terminals. It has progressively expanded in other types of terminals, such as cruise ports. Still, the extent of concessions differs, depending on traffic type, and remains common for container terminal management. This is perhaps because bulk terminals often serve captive users, and competition policy concerns are in play.

Commonly, concessions are granted for specific terminals (see Chapter 3.2 for an extensive discussion). Public port authorities (or occasionally other public agencies) generally develop a port master plan detailing the layout of port development, such as breakwaters and terminal areas, and invest in general port infrastructures such as port real estate, access roads, and rail tracks. Port authorities grant private terminal operating companies concessions to operate a terminal and receive a concession fee. The responsibility for investment differs between concessions. In some cases, the port authority invests in quays and terminal footprint, while in other cases, the private terminal operator has to make these investments. The government usually determines the main terminal characteristics such as size, location, waterside, and landside access.

In most cases, terminal operation is only undertaken by terminal operating companies. When port authorities are involved in container terminal operations, a terminal operating company might be present. In most cases, port authorities assume the role of the overseer that initiates and monitors the operator. Port authorities no longer engage in developmental activities within their port boundaries but are engaging in various coordination or cooperation activities.

Contemporary port authorities face a dilemma as the delivery of local benefits may not match the objectives of those who are granted the terminal concession. This dilemma has become more acute for several reasons. First, the consolidation of terminal operations has continued. Second, several ports act as transshipment hubs serving destinations outside the economy that hosts the port. Thus, the immediate benefits for the local economy are neither visible nor of the expected magnitude. Third, the financialization of terminal operations continues even after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, as financial infrastructure funds remain active in acquiring terminal operations.

This focus on the business of terminal operations has led to divergent directions. One is that ownership by global financial interests has separated terminal operations from the community. They focused their interests on delivering returns at a time when governments were seeking even greater social returns. These have boosted rather than limited the consolidation and dominance of a few private interests in terminal operations.

D. Lessons from full port privatization

Port reforms have been a response to a broader agenda of streamlining government as a means of dealing with deficits and the result of a shift in macro-economic thinking towards greater private sector involvement in public goods delivery. The process gained strength when the full impact of the UK decision in the 1980s to reform its public sector changed the way governments saw the way forward on the governance of most transport activities, including ports.

The British experience has informed thinking in port privatization. Port devolution in the UK often involved outright sale, regulatory functions, listing on the stock exchange, deregulation of the port labor market, and transfers often at discounted prices. The outcome is that there is no port regulator. Privatization was used to unwind nationalizations that took place during World War II. That reform was as much about reversing public ownership as it was about selling companies that should not be publicly owned. What made the UK reform model unique was that the privatization of UK ports was complete because they included the sale of port land. The British case was about selling ports (removing public ownership and accountability) rather than creating new and improved port infrastructure and facilities, which was the goal of most other countries.

Only a few countries have gone so far as to change the ownership status of both port authority and port land from public to private. The UK continues to lead the world in full privatization of the port sector, with 15 of 20 major ports and a group of other privately owned and operated ports handling 69% of total tonnage. This has been the outcome of a tradition beginning with Felixstowe in 1886 and enhanced by port reforms instigated in the 1980s and 1990s. Still, no other UK ports have been sold since 1997, despite a voluntary privatization application made by the Port of Dover in 2012, which the UK Secretary of State for Transport rejected. The only recently implemented model approaching full privatization was adopted in Australia, whereby long-term leaseholds over the port assets (including land) are sold to the private sector, usually for 99 years.

Full privatization is rarely endorsed as experience suggests that it has not been without challenges. For example, UK ports have been sold at undervalued prices; there was less investment than might have otherwise occurred. Furthermore, when private interests responded to improved trade, and financial institutions began to acquire infrastructure holdings, the loss of an oversight or monitoring role created discontent in the UK port industry and business. Other ex-post assessments of these reforms have questioned the effectiveness of the realized developments. Such criticism includes the relevant legislation that accompanied reforms and empirical evidence that corporatization does not ‘a priori’ result in improved financial performance. As a result, few other governments have considered copying the UK model in its entirety.

Another key problem in the case of private entities owning assets under full privatization is that in several cases, the same private company is the harbor authority, the owner of the land on which the port sits, and the port operator. This situation is also observed in Turkey, where the control of operations and management is transferred to contractor companies together with new capital assets that are expected to be transferred back to the government at the end of the concession contract. Similarly, in the mid-2010s, Greece endorsed the master concessions model, selling 51% of the shares of its major ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, to a third party.

E. Governance approaches across port sizes

Port governance models and reforms are not uniformly applied to all ports. Different treatment for secondary or peripheral ports, which are generally of small sizes, is not uncommon. Successive reforms in Europe (i.e., Spain and Italy, France and Greece) or the Americas (i.e., Canada) have followed a distinctive approach for ports of national interest from that applied to peripheral ports, which were granted a certain degree of autonomy but within a public framework of management and operation. The reason is the very different conditions and challenges faced by these ports compared to major international ports; the former group prioritizes local and regional transportation of goods to/from the local community, the need to serve as axes of regional development and poles attracting investments that would boost the prospects of local economies. Besides, even in the smaller ports alone, the variety of public service obligations, geographical constraints, or economic development aspirations is remarkable.

The size effect is an important factor in explaining the heterogeneity of port organization. Port governance regimes comprising at least two tiers are common, particularly in nations where port operations are highly concentrated within just one or a few key ports. To give some examples, in the UK, where 20 ports account for 87% of total throughput, the UK Trust ports were allowed to privatize in 1991, yet all have remained in the public sector, except for one. In Sweden, Gothenburg dominates the country’s container handling. Its privatization in 2010 represented one of the biggest ever in Sweden, across all sectors. Still, numerous small ports remain public entities, while three significant container ports have been privatized through concession. In Greece, where the privatized Piraeus and Thessaloniki account for virtually all of the country’s container throughput, local and municipal ports remain under strict public control. In Canada, the port reform process introduced a three-tier approach, with the largest strategic interest ports given greater autonomy (Canada Port Authority ports), second-tier local and regional ports divested to local interests, and ‘remote’ ports retained by the federal government.

It is not only the size of operations that limits the prospects of a port reform. It is also the structure of the regional and national market within which a port operates. While sufficient size is required for reaping economies of scale, there may not be sufficient scale remaining within the system to ensure either intra-port competition or inter-port competition, or both. These circumstances might compromise or limit the potential benefits to be derived from port governance reforms.

F. The role of the institutional setting

Institutional and cultural differences across nations might result in the different treatment of ports. Institutional conditions restrict port governance choices and lead to diversified outcomes and development trajectories.

Port governance structures follow a path largely affected by the characteristics of local/national institutional frameworks and the political traditions in place. Path-dependent decisions preserve the system, resulting in implementation asymmetries, even when different governments seek the same generic port governance solution. For example, in the Netherlands, private law allows for the different treatment of corporatized (even non-profit) entities by the government compared to what is allowed in France or Belgium. Cultural traditions might also result in different practices. The advanced tariffs negotiation model with port user associations in the case of the biggest European port, Rotterdam, is not common elsewhere.

Besides, while port governance frameworks are the subject of specific legislation that exclusively addresses the organization of the port sector, they are often shaped by policy and legislation that more directly relate to other sectors, such as the legislation on corporate governance and public management.

Changes in dominant political tenets around the world are also significant. On occasion, the confidence in public management has been eroded. Following the financial crisis of 2008, populism gained ground, and port reform was explicitly instigated as part of a wider political strategy to help extricate nations from economic decline or it was imposed on governments as a condition of bailout packages. Cyprus, Greece, and Portugal are examples where recent decisions on port governance have been externally imposed by international institutions monitoring adherence to imposed bailout conditions.

The influence of national/local political factors is important. Port governance reforms are subject to drafting, approving, implementing, and fine-tuning that involve different port communities and stakeholders reacting to national and global changes. The negotiating power held by stakeholders such as terminal operators, concessionaires, ship agents, freight forwarders, and unions is likely to result in the idiosyncratic nature of national reform patterns. The port reforms that eventually emerge may be different from what was originally intended. This outcome is inevitably the case within any long political process. A heavily politicized process not only delays reforms but also changes targets and models. To give an example, Greece shifted from concessions of activities to the selling of master concessions.

The introduction of policy and legislation enabling port reform and establishing a new port governance system is the outcome of a long process extending the timeline beyond expectations. In some countries, such as the Netherlands, reforms have not been subject to delays. In France, it took three years to implement transfer to new port entities. In other countries (i.e., Brazil, Greece, Italy), the process has been prolonged. The cause of delays during the implementation stage is systematically linked to the embeddedness of ports in specific institutional and economic domains. This embeddedness results in the institutional divergence between the objectives set at the governmental level and the interests and objectives at the regional/port level. In the absence of both local acceptance and a bottom-up perspective on the implementation of port reform, the presence of multilevel organizations and associated interests and motivations may constitute a potential barrier to the successful implementation of a new port governance framework.

Consequently, there is still very little evidence on best practices in port governance. In general terms, the heterogeneity of models and the lack of consistency in the roles of public sector agents and stakeholders precludes a comparative analysis of the outcomes achieved by port reform in relation to the objectives which are set for the reform. The middle ground between centralized control and full privatization is extremely complex, and there are no clear and transparent models. In Europe, for example, every country does port governance differently. For many years, a European Union Common Port Policy failed to emerge. It was only in 2016 that a framework was adopted, and even this is limited in application to only some port services within the core European ports. As in other parts of the world, the endorsed port governance models relate to national circumstances, traditions, and, frequently, the economic situation of the hosting country.

Related Topics


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