Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime Affairs
Ph.D (Maritime Affairs)
India has experienced remarkable economic growth over the last two decades, thanks to its trade-oriented development policies. Since most of international trades are carried out by sea, the country's ports play a pivotal role in economic development. This speedy development in a short period of time has led to a situation where container traffic volumes are substantially increased. All parties involved in port businesses have made considerable efforts towards keeping the pace with the ever-growing container traffic. The Indian ports, however, still face a number of problems. Amongst the most noticeable ones is hinterland connectivity, which has weakened the country’s position on the global logistics index and the competitiveness of products due to high logistics costs. To adequately address the issue, the Indian Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has launched a new project called Sagarmala. In one part of this project, the government is spending a large sum to improve the hinterland connectivity of the existing public ports. This section of the project is aimed at improving the connectivity of the ports to the hinterland by mainly upgrading rail, road and waterway networks in the country. This move by the government is entirely justified from a traditional perspective, as it has always been argued that improving hinterland connectivity gives ports a competitive advantage over their rivals and enables them to increase their relative market shares from hinterland. Connecting port hinterlands in an effective and efficient manner has subsequently become an important parameter for a port's competitiveness. In order to improve hinterland connectivity, ports are suggested to extend their intermodal network into distant hinterland markets so as to increase their [hinterland] market shares. The port intermodal network has been extensively discussed from a perspective by combining intermodal transport and different types of inland logistics centres. Recent years have, however, observed a new dimension of port-hinterland connectivity; that is, ports are not only expanding their intermodal networks but also striving to integrate inland logistics centres at different levels. The degree of integration varies from port to port. Ports make a different configuration of hinterland connectivity as an effort to increase their market shares in the
14 hinterlands. It has been traditionally argued that extending an intermodal network to the hinterland gives ports a competitive advantage over their rivals and enables them to resultantly increase their relative market shares. This issue in question leads
us to raise a challenging question that needs an answer by having examined the port- hinterland connectivity issue differently from those being discussed in existing
literature: that is, a mixed perspective from both ‘port-hinterland connectivity’ and ‘port market shares’. Against this background, this thesis attempts to bring related issues together by discussing conceptual and theoretical issues (in)directly related to the two concepts in a holistic manner. For this purpose, the thesis conducts a comprehensive and systematic literature review to better reflect recent developments that results in establishing a conceptual framework in the context of container ports. In the framework, the frequency of intermodal services between ports and inland logistics nodes is considered as the main parameter for analysing port-hinterland connectivity. An empirical investigation was made with the conceptual model, using the social network analysis (SNA) centrality functions (i.e., degree centrality and betweenness centrality) for 16 container ports and 349 inland logistics nodes in India as a case. Findings of the empirical analysis show that (i) the port-hinterland connectivity is in general positively related to the port market shares, and (ii) this case is always not applicable to all the sampled ports since higher hinterland connectivity does not always guarantee higher market shares. This line of research could be treated as making an original contribution to knowledge in three ways. Firstly, port-hinterland connectivity, at least within the Indian context, has been scientifically studied and tested for the first time. Secondly, the SNA method has been applied to constructing the port-hinterland networks in two layers. Finally, the outcome of the study will undoubtedly provide the central and local governments, port authorities and other interested parties with an insight into the implementation of the port-hinterland connectivity project and/or policies.