Corporate Responsibility in the Port Sector: The Institutional Theory Perspective

Corporate responsibility is not a new concept in seaports, as a result of the important role that ports play in local communities. In the last decades, however, ports have increasingly undertaken costly efforts to improve their image, as part of their corporate responsibility profile. The most discernible characteristic of this new image is that ports aim at appearing environmentally aware and sustainable. Nevertheless, the degree of adoption of green practices varies substantially among ports and globally, as some limit their efforts to respond to local community pressure or normative requirements, while others actively pursue green strategies. Corporate responsibility, and in particular its environmental dimension, however, appears to be likely to keep on increasing in importance over time. This manuscript offers an explanation of the drivers behind such renewed interest in green strategies and corporate responsibility for ports, making use of the arguments developed in the context of institutional theory. Institutional theory focuses on the processes by which certain social structures are accepted as defining recommended social behaviours by firms. Such structures include of course norms, but also unwritten rules, routines or social constructs. Although there is an emerging literature on corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability in the port sector, institutional theory has never been applied to investigate the motivational forces behind the endorsement of such concepts in port authorities’ strategies. The paper develops a conceptual model that explains the sources of pressure that shape the corporate responsibility and environmental strategies of ports. The deriving conceptual framework is accompanied and empirically validated through several examples drawn from major ports around the world. The paper argues that the processes of vertical integration along supply chains, and the increasing competitive focus on port-centric logistics tend to strengthen the importance of corporate responsibility and in particular of environmental performance in ports. Furthermore, the paper argues in favour of a correspondence between the degree of port agility and the corporate responsibility profile of the port. Managerial and policy implication are also discussed.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 522-535
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings of the International Forum on Shipping, Ports and Airports (IFSPA) 2013: Trade, Supply Chain Activities and Transport: Contemporary Logistics and Maritime Issues

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01496828
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9789623677677
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 26 2013 7:13PM