The waves of containerization: shifts in global maritime transportation

This paper provides evidence of the cyclic behavior of containerization through an analysis of the phases of a Kondratieff wave (K-wave) of global container ports development. The container, like any technical innovation, has a functional (within transport chains) and geographical diffusion potential where a phase of maturity is eventually reached. Evidence from the global container port system suggests five main successive waves of containerization with a shift of the momentum from advanced economies to developing economies, but also within specific regions. These waves are illustrative of major macroeconomic, technological and sometimes political shifts within the global economy. They do not explain the causes, but simply the consequences in the distribution in container traffic and growth (or decline). Yet, they provide strong evidence that containerization has a cyclic behavior and that inflection points are eventually reached, marking the end of the diffusion of containerization in a specific port or port range. Future expectations about the growth of containerization thus need to be assessed within an economic cycle perspective instead of the rather linear perspectives.


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  • Accession Number: 01521572
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 12 2014 1:20PM