Journal of Productivity Analysis

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 83–98

Determinants and strategies for the development of container terminals



The paper examines an important player in the container industry: the container terminal. We evaluate how terminal efficiency operation is affected by the following factors: terminal type, operation type, scale efficiency and returns to scale. In so doing, we test how the typology and operation of terminals and the level of scale efficiency that a terminal can achieve, represent significant factors in the development and growth of the container terminal industry. The analysis is based on the assessment of 165 container terminals worldwide. We develop the estimation through the application of stochastic frontier analysis. We demonstrate that container terminals are more efficient than multi-purpose terminals, and that, compared with local operators, global terminal operators do not have a dominant position in international maritime trade in terms of productivity and efficiency. However, global terminal operators appear to be more dominant than local operators when we examine the Mediterranean Basin. In the final part of the paper we suggest how resource-constrained container terminals may improve their scale efficiency and identify general strategies related to container terminal investments.


Stochastic analysis Container terminal Global operator Scale and technical efficiency 

JEL Classification

L91 L99 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCL QASER LaboratoryUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Drewry Shipping ConsultantsLondonUK

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