The purpose of this paper is to examine traditional, current and emerging roles played by ports in the context of logistics and supply chain management practice and strategy. The paper also seeks to elaborate the emerging concept of port‐centric logistics.
The paper draws its insights and conclusions from a review of the literature, and an analysis of current trends and data concerning the ports and maritime transport sector.
The paper shows that ports can play a variety of different roles within supply chains and that they are not restricted to their traditional role of simple transhipment point for freight.
While the paper reviews the roles played by ports in logistics and supply chain management generally, a useful next step would be to analyse specific flows and activities at/through ports within selected supply chains, thus allowing validation of a framework of roles for ports in the context of various supply chain strategies.
The paper highlights the potential, which in many cases is still latent, for ports to engage in port‐centric logistics activities.
The paper both highlights (given the fact that the vast majority of freight at some point transits ports) and extends the understanding of the role(s) of ports within supply chains.
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