University of Tasmania

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Strategic role of Australian regional ports in regional development

posted on 2023-05-27, 06:50 authored by Sakalayen, QMH
Despite an increase in worldwide research on the relationship between ports and their regions, studies have mainly centred on hub ports or major container ports and less attention has been paid to regional ports in the national context. In this thesis, regional ports are defined as ports located outside metropolitan cities, which facilitate regional trade and serve regional producers and businesses. Australian regional ports perform approximately 85% of the national freight task, and have immense strategic potential for regional development. Despite the symbiotic relationship between regional ports and their host regions this area has not been widely researched. This thesis explores strategies for Australian regional ports to make an effective contribution to regional development. This study has adopted a mixed methods research methodology, consisting of semi-structured telephone interviews in the qualitative strand, and a web-based survey in the quantitative strand. The outcome of the telephone interviews led to the development of a conceptual model for Australian regional ports' contribution to regional development, consisting of three major themes: port sustainability, building on collaborative advantages and active participation of ports in a regional innovation system. Subsequently, an instrument was developed to conduct a web-based survey in the quantitative strand. The empirical results from the survey revealed four pertinent factors with their corresponding strategic initiatives important for Australian regional ports' involvement in regional development. These factors were ports being interactive and entrepreneurial in the regional innovation system (RIS), collaboration for supply chain efficiency, collaboration with other regional organisations, and ports being proactive for environmental challenges and social responsibility. Pulling together the findings from both strands, the research advocates a place based approach for Australian regional ports to be effectively involved in regional development. This approach is inclusive and collaborative and addresses the issues involved in generating greater policy benefits for a specific place. The place based approach significantly relates to the research findings where systematic regional resource utilisation is important. Academically, the research contributes to revealing the geo-dimensional role (regional enabler) of ports in regional development. It highlights the ways in which ports can actively engage in regional resource configuration efforts with other regional organisations in an interactive, innovative and entrepreneurial way. The findings also have implications for port management, by producing a place oriented port matrix consisting of economic, social, environmental and spatial dimensions for effective regional development involvement; by generating a set of relevant indicators for performance monitoring and reporting; and by gradually introducing a new type of port planning which focuses on collaboration, innovation, and regional resource configuration.


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