Read the abstracts of the recent PhD defences at the Department of Regional and Urban Economics.

PhD Sven Buyle - 29 September 2020

On 29 September 2020 at 5pm, Sven Buyle succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Evolution of AIr Navigation Service Provider Business Models within the Single European Sky', Supervisors: Prof. dr. Hilde Meersman, Prof. dr. Wouter Dewulf & dr. Evy Onghena.

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PhD Thomas Van Asch - 28 September 2020

On 28 September 2020 at 5pm, Thomas Van Asch succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Air Cargo Competitiveness and European Airports: Markets and Strategy', Supervisors: Prof. dr. Eddy Van de Voorde, Prof. dr. Wouter Dewulf & dr. Franziska Kupfer

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PhD Matteo Balliauw - 24 February 2020

On 24 February 2020 at 5pm, Matteo balliauw succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Innovation in Inland Navigation, Failure and Succes: The European Case', Supervisors: Prof. dr. hilde Meersman & Prof. dr. Eddy Van de Voorde

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Port capacity investments under uncertainty: The use of real options models

Port operations are important for worldwide and regional trade and for the development of regions. Investments in port capacity are required to perform these activities. Port infrastructure and some superstructure investments involve large sums of money, are irreversible and involve a lot of uncertainty. In the literature, real options (RO) have been identified as a methodology to improve investment decisions with a flexible size and timing under uncertainty. Elements of existing RO models from other sectors, suited for port capacity investment analyses, are combined in a framework, together with specific port-economic characteristics. Based on this, new RO port models are constructed to meet this thesis' objective, which is to study how optimal port capacity investment decisions are influenced by different port- and project-related economic characteristics under uncertainty.

In the developed models, throughput level, timing and size of the investment are flexible. As an addition to the literature, the users' congestion costs are added to the RO models for port capacity investments. Next to a base case benchmark model, a second model adds the possibility of a partially or fully publicly owned port authority (PA), as well as the division of cash flows and activities in a landlord port model between the two investing actors: the PA and the port operator. A third model adds inter-port competition to the base case model: two new ports, competing in quantities, are constructed according to a Stackelberg leader-follower model. A final model considers port expansion of one service port, as well as the construction lead time.

If port customers are on average more waiting-time averse, new port investment projects need to be developed later, and their size needs to be larger as well. In the case of port expansion, such an investment should be made earlier, whereas the impact on size is limited. Uncertainty leads to later and larger investments. Increased public ownership leads to earlier and larger investments in new ports, whereas expansions projects are even more anticipated if the public share is larger. In landlord ports, the two investing actors can agree to follow the investment strategy that would be optimal under a service port configuration. Otherwise, the PA can use the concession fee to force the terminal operator to invest in the PA's optimum. Inter-port competition reduces the option value of waiting. This leads to earlier and smaller leader investment, compared with its unrestricted strategy. The follower however will invest later and more.

PhD Edwin Verberght - 10 February 2020

On 10 February 2020 at 5pm, Edwin verberght successfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Innovation in Inland Navigation, Failure and Success: The European Case', Supervisors: Prof. dr. Thierry vanelslander & Prof. dr. Ir. Edwin Van Hassel

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Innovation in Inland Navigation, Failure and Success: The European Case

European inland navigation is generally regarded to be part of the solution to road congestion. It is also the transport mode with the lowest external costs. Therefore, a strong and competitive inland navigation can be a key element in achieving climate change objectives for the transport sector. In order to remain competitive and attractive, inland navigation needs to innovate in the midst of a rapidly changing globalized logistics chain. Innovation in inland navigation is both necessary to maintain the modal share or to grow in performance, and to keep the title of the most sustainable transport mode. Alternative fuels, innovative engines and propulsion, ship design, automation and digital business applications are just a few examples of possible innovations that could provide an answer that is attractive both for the investor (industrial-economic perspective) and for society (welfare-economic perspective). Private actors play a role in this; innovation is often a story of collaboration between public and private actors within a multi-layered network to create the best conditions for successful innovation.

This doctoral dissertation focuses on innovation in European inland navigation and takes the reader on a journey into a relatively unchartered world without avoiding relatively complex networks such as the (pan-)European institutional setting. The central research question is as follows: What are the factors that determine success or failure of innovation in inland navigation and what is the role of policy?

Four cases have been analysed in order to answer the research question. The cases concern the automated inland vessel, LNG as an alternative fuel for inland navigation, e-barge chartering instead of conventional chartering and the small barge convoy to reactivate small waterways.

After a detailed and updated institutional analysis of the European multi-level governance model for inland navigation policy, a combination of analytical methods is applied where meaningful and possible within a multiple case study framework. The system innovation approach allows for mostly qualitative analysis and shows if there are any patterns during the development phases of innovation and which conditions lead the innovation to success or failure. The (social) cost-benefit analysis framework was the main source of inspiration to develop a quantitative economic analysis that includes external costs and that fits the private cost structure of an inland vessel. Innovation can bring benefits for both private and public actors or for only one of them and has implications for both actors. Finally, the role of the various policy levels, tools and their impact are analysed. This study helps investors to decide if innovation is attractive and allows policy makers to judge whether and how innovation can be supported or not and by which policy level(s).

PhD Joost Hintjens - 22 November 2019

On 22 November, 2019  at 4pm, Joost Hintjens succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Cooperation between seaports concerning hinterland transport' supervisors are Prof. dr. Eddy Van de Voorde and Prof. dr. Thierry Vanelslander.

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Cooperation between seaports concerning hinterland transport

Seaports are, on the one hand, crucial links in the global supply network. As such, they are important sources of added value, employment and welfare. But on the other hand, they need big investments, often made with public money, and they are places where external costs are generated that are not appreciated by the communities of which they are part. Society demands from ports that in return for this ‘licence-to-operate’ the ports operate as efficiently as possible. More and more voices demand that through cooperation, this efficiency is improved, and the external costs diminished. Others believe that independence and competition is the best guarantee to make ports as efficient as possible. This thesis studies the possibilities cooperation between competing seaports can offer with a focus on port authorities and how they can cooperate in extending the hinterland.

The viewpoint is that of society, to allow the benefits of all stakeholders to be considered. A conceptual model, based on societal cost benefit analysis, is developed where the welfare effects of different cooperation strategies are analysed. More in detail, the conceptual model focusses on the social costs and benefits of combining hinterland road cargo flows of cooperating ports into a bundled transport mode, thus lowering direct and external costs and increasing the market share of the cooperating ports. This is further developed into a empiricalized cost model that combines the EU hinterland at NUTS2 level with the road cargo flows of the 104 core TEN-T ports, concluding with a tool that enables the calculation of the direct cost benefits, the effect on the value of time and the potential external cost savings of any cooperation between the 104 core ports.

The model is applied to three cooperation case scenarios. The first one consists of a bundling of the road cargo flows of the ports of the recently created North Sea Port towards the NUTS2 region of Düsseldorf. The second case concerns the bundling of the flows of the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp towards the region surrounding Cracow. The last case calculates the effect of the modal shift facilitated by the cooperation of the four Polish ports towards their main hinterland region. From this possible cooperation strategies are suggested for the different port actors.


PhD Valentin Carlan - 20 November 2019

On 20 November, 2019  at 4pm, Valentin Carlan succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Maritieme supply chain innovation: costs, benefits ans cost-effectiveness of ICT introduction' supervisors are Prof. dr. Christa Sys and Prof. dr. Thierry Vanelslander.

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Maritime supply chain innovation: costs, benefits and cost-effectiveness of ICT introduction

ICT innovation has become a key prerequisite for maritime supply chain (MarSC) stakeholders to remain competitive. In this context, new technological advancements from early EDI-based (electronic data interchange) solutions to contemporary blockchain-based tools are continuously changing the market. The MarSC actors need to decide which ICT solution to implement. In this process, own financial benefits are key. Equally so, the broader effects on other stakeholders participating in the chain are relevant. However, there is no comprehensive framework available to identify the costs and benefits of ICT innovation in the MarSC reported in the literature, nor applications that calculate their cost-effectiveness.

This research identifies the cost-effectiveness of integration practices introduced by ICT innovation in the MarSC. To do so, it develops, validates and applies a comprehensive costs and benefits framework taking into consideration key characteristics of ICT innovation. A collection of 44 cases provides further empirical evidence with regard to the cost and benefit elements they generate. Subsequently, four detailed cost-effectiveness analyses are carried out focusing on integration. The first analysis shows how an internal data integration practice is cost-effective for a road transport company and reduces external environmental effects at the same time. The second one studies horizontal data-integration practices in the MarSC. Focusing on data integration amongst hinterland transport operators, the analysis proves that taking a multi-disciplinary approach in building ICT innovation provides a more cost-effective outcome. The third case study focuses on vertical data integration in the MarSC. It discusses the cost-effectiveness of three strategies to implement a blockchain-based application in the MarSC that facilitates the official documents transfer. This last analysis provides evidence with regard to the increase in a community’s competitive advantage, when a mixed data integration tool is used. This tool is developed in the framework of a port community system. Overall, this dissertation provides new relevant insights with regard to costs and benefits generated by ICT innovation in the MarSC, and is valuable for both academia and industry.

PhD Katrien De Langhe - 24 September 2019

On 24 September 2019  at 5pm, Katrien De Langhe succesfully defended her PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'What role for rail urban freight distribution?' supervisors are Prof. dr. Eddy Van de Voorde and Prof. dr. Christa Sys.

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PhD - Ivan Cardenas - 23 August 2019

On 23 August at 2pm, Ivan Cardenas succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Unlocking the benefits of pick-up points for sustainable E-commerce distribution in urban areas'.

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PhD - Kostas Papoutsis - 12 July 2019

On 12 July, Kostas Papoutsis succesfully defended his PhD at the University of Antwerp, on the topic of 'Retail logistics costs and policy impact - What is the total cost to secure innovation for a greener retail supply chain?'

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