Modelling the impact of port-centric logistics cluster on inter-firm competition

Singh, A 2020, Modelling the impact of port-centric logistics cluster on inter-firm competition, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Modelling the impact of port-centric logistics cluster on inter-firm competition
Author(s) Singh, A
Year 2020
Abstract Port-centric logistics clusters are considered as intermodal gateways of international trade, which connect national economies with global production networks. Globalization and the resultant interdependency between producers and the markets they serve have thus increased the vitality of sophisticated global seaport hubs and networks. These clusters are a spatial aggregation of logistics-related interconnected and interdependent companies that assist in smooth port operations. Singapore, Rotterdam, and Dubai ports are world-class models of port-centric logistics clusters. The formation of these clusters is a derivative of regional growth and offer a conducive business environment within a geographically contained area. Despite the increasing popularity of cluster theory, there seems a lack of unified theoretical framework, and identification methods of the cluster because of the divergent approaches by which it has been proposed including but not limited to agglomeration economies, industrial districts, knowledge spillover, regional development, innovation system, and network, etc. There has been insufficient evidence to empirically evaluate the prevalence of port-centric logistics cluster, assess the functionality and characteristics of port-centric logistics clusters. There is also disagreement on three key questions: what industry types port-centric logistics clusters constitute, what methods are appropriate to delineate the boundary of port-centric logistics cluster and do the logistics firms within-cluster demonstrate higher inter-firm competition through competitive rivalry near port than away from port vicinity. In this study, a spatial approach is adopted to geographically delineate the spatial congregation of port-centric logistics employment using Melbourne as a case.

Using the Census data from Australian Bureau of Statistics, this study aims to identify the industrial sectors that characterize port-centric logistics cluster followed by delineating the geographic boundary of cluster around Melbourne port that represents the area from where the seaport draws its workers in different port-related industries.  Using the information about where people live and work, and what industry they work in, the total workforce employed in port-related industries within the close vicinity of Port of Melbourne is estimated. Areas, where port-related employment is above nation's logistics employment average and spatially adjacent, are categorized as part of the port-centric logistics cluster. The employment gradient mapped in GIS illustrates the territorial representation of port-centric logistics cluster. The establishment of Melbourne port-centric logistics cluster could mean the opportunities for organizations to achieve agglomeration economies, increase rivalry among organizations to promote competition, closer proximity between customers and supplier, shared resources, increased inter-firm interactions, and knowledge sharing.

Further, this study adopts a quantitative approach to model the relationship between the cluster and inter-firm competition. An online and paper-based survey was administered to 379 logistics firms within and outside the cluster. The constructs were adopted from previous studies and validated items were used. A pilot test was conducted to assess constructs reliability and validity. The measurement and structural models were tested using structural equation modelling.

The results show a significant impact of clustering of logistics firms on inter-firm competition through competitive rivalry among firms. A multi-group analysis reveals a significant difference between two groups in relation to the impact of clustering around port geography and away from port on inter-firm competition. The study found that the logistics firms demonstrate accentuated competition near the port in a clustered environment than away from port geography. This shows the impact of land use consolidation by the State Government in its effort to boost transport and warehousing employment closer to the port.

The contributions this study offer includes validated conceptual framework to evaluate the impact of clustering of logistics firms on inter-firm competition. From managerial perspective this study offers on the opportunity for the manager on how to make a locational decision to provide the services. The decision is based on considering the potential benefits of collocating into the clustered environment to enhance their capabilities through spill over effect which is inherited within the cluster. Moreover, the knowledge created through this study can be utilized to draft policies regarding transportation planning and urban land use to support the geographical area around the port which may, in turn, stimulate the logistics firms to work in the designated zone. The major limitation of the study is using the data only from Melbourne. A future study may consider comparing the data from two different cities or country to validate the results of this study of the positive impact of clustering on the competitive rivalry.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Fashion and Textiles
Subjects Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Keyword(s) port-centric logistics cluster
logistics cluster
spatial clustering
inter-firm competition
agglomeration economies
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Created: Fri, 15 May 2020, 08:33:18 EST by Keely Chapman
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