Essays on centrality and intermediacy of the Ukrainian transport system

Date: 30 September 2016

Venue: Hof van Liere, F. de Tassiszaal - Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 4:00 PM

PhD candidate: Kateryna Grushevska

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Theo Notteboom

Short description: PhD defence Kateryna Grushevska - Faculty of Applied Economics

This thesis analyses the transport system (TS) of Ukraine which is composed of different mode-specific transport networks (e.g. rail and inland waterways) and associated nodes (e.g. seaports). The thesis provides an academic study of Ukraine potential of in taking up a role in emerging distribution systems in East and Central Europe facilitating the cargo transportation to and from regions such as Central Asia, the Caucasus and even more distant overseas areas. So the current geographical dimension for the intermediacy function of the transport system of Ukraine lays between such areas as (i) Far East-Europe/Med and (ii) European hinterland. In addition the centrality dimension falls in Ukraine’s boundaries. By doing so we assess the transport system centrality and intermediacy in a broader sense that includes an overview of the long term progressive change processes.

The generic approach for this study is built on the basis of evolutionary and institutional economics. We apply these theories to a discussion at the junction between transport and economic geography. This framework forms the structure of the study by focusing on the most relevant aspects in dedicated chapters. We conducted five empirical studies that investigate the complex phenomenon of the Ukrainian transport system each from a different perspective as illustrated in our framework: the bottlenecks for the intermediacy of the entire transport system of Ukraine, the port sector, the rail sector, the inland waterway sector, and lastly maritime shipping.

We support and reinforce the link between the institutional and evolutionary economic theories by our case of Ukrainian transport system. Namely by demonstrating that (i) the growth of transportation networks can be accurately described as evolutionary process that exhibits the supply-demand interplay, (ii) independent players and suboptimal (at best optimal local) decision making are subject to temporal and spatial constraints such as imperfect information, path dependence, spatial monopoly, network externalities and interdependent economic and regulatory routines, and (iii) the intrinsic features of the transportation system (i.e. geography, demographics, economy, technology, culture and politics) complicate the transportation networks’ development. The evolutionary and institutional analysis of the transport system in Ukraine has demonstrated (i) strong institutional and evolutionary lock-in and path dependency; (ii) path disruptions; and (iii) path plasticity. All three have been influenced and were an outcome of  the complex interaction between routine, search and selection phenomena in the evolution of the transport system.