Classification of the Core Competencies of Ports

Classification of core competencies in a port

Source: adapted from Coeck, C., Notteboom, T., Verbeke, A., Winkelmans, W., 1996, A resource-based perspective on strategic port planning, Proceedings of the 11th International Harbour Congress, Antwerp, pp. 29-40.

Based on the parameters of source of inimitability and character of the core competencies, a matrix can be constructed.

A core competency purely based on the geographic location of a port is a typical example in quadrant 1. A port’s high productivity can usually be situated in quadrant 2. This requires a continuous building process based on an interaction between technology and human skills that cannot be easily transferred to other ports. Both maritime and hinterland accessibility can partly be positioned in quadrant 1 (the part which can be attributed to natural geographic conditions) and partly in quadrant 2 (the part which is the result of a dynamic building process aimed at consolidating good accessibility such as the progressive development of a hinterland network).

A competence purely based on port technology can be positioned in quadrant 4. For example, a fully automated container terminal results from a technological process that might be difficult to imitate. Still, the technology itself can rather easily be transferred to other ports. However, the patent on this technology could be positioned in quadrant 3 as it is by definition inimitable.

Core competencies situated in quadrant 4 are rather important to defend, which may demand enormous efforts. Fierce port competition on the level of the development of core competencies primarily exists in quadrants 2 and 4.