ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

One of the key challenges related to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic is preservation of employment and protecting staff who are working in port operations and struggling to keep ports operating for ship calls. These activities performed by port labour are deemed to be crucial for the EU and European ports, since 75% of the EU external trade and 30% of intra-EU transport goods are moved by waterborne transport. As a response to the global lockdown and the vulnerability of global supply chains, the majority of international organisations and maritime ports networks have shortlisted measures necessary to keep the severe effects of the lockdown to a minimum. One of the key measures identified is how to limit physical interaction. As an effect, millions of people and organisations across the globe have had to use and/or increase their deployment of digital technologies, such as digital documentation, tracing information systems and digital group-working platforms. Hence, blockchain and data-enabling systems have become to be recognised as a core element maintaining the uninterrupted flow of goods and services at ports.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
doi: 10.2478/bjes-2021-0008 TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port
Ecosystems in Small and Medium-Sized
Baltic Ports
Christopher Meyer
Hochschule Wismar
University of Applied Sciences:
Technology, Business and Design
Philipp-Müller-Str. 14
Wismar 23966, Germany
Tallinn University of Technology
Ehitajate tee 5
Tallinn 19086, Estonia
Laima Gerlitz
Hochschule Wismar
University of Applied Sciences:
Technology, Business and Design
Philipp-Müller-Str. 14
Wismar 23966, Germany
Lawrence Henesey
Blekinge Institute of Technology
Biblioteksgatan 4
Karlshamn SE-37424, Sweden
Abstract: One of the key challenges related to the threat posed
by the COVID-19 pandemic is preservation of employment and
protecting sta who are working in port operations and struggling
to keep ports operating for ship calls. These activities performed
by port labour are deemed to be crucial for the EU and European
ports, since 75% of the EU external trade and 30% of intra-EU
transport goods are moved by waterborne transport. As a response
to the global lockdown and the vulnerability of global supply chains,
the majority of international organisations and maritime ports
networks have shortlisted measures necessary to keep the severe
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
eects of the lockdown to a minimum. One of the key measures
identied is how to limit physical interaction. As an eect, millions
of people and organisations across the globe have had to use and/
or increase their deployment of digital technologies, such as digital
documentation, tracing information systems and digital group-
working platforms. Hence, blockchain and data-enabling systems
have become to be recognised as a core element maintaining the
uninterrupted ow of goods and services at ports.
In pursuing uninterrupted trade and keeping ports open and
running, this research paper addresses how the current situation
aicts the small and medium-sized ports located on the Baltic Sea
which are argued to be critical actors of the port-centric logistics’
ecosystem. Given the topicality of this research and addressing the
research gap, the authors suggest a conceptual capacity-building
framework for port employees. This suggested framework is based
on empirical insights: primary and secondary data collected from
the project Connect2SmallPorts, part-nanced by the Interreg
South Baltic Programme 2014–2020 from the European Regional
Development Fund (ERDF). The conceptual framework aims towards
a practical training programme dedicated to ll in the missing skills
or expand the limited competence of human resources and ports’
capacity when adapting or advancing digitalisation in the ports’
ecosystems. In particular, specic areas of capacity building are
addressed and individual solutions suggested to foster a digital
transformation of ports. The conceptual training framework is
designed as a training tool indicating opportunities to help ports
upgrade their competences with the blockchain technology, and
to advance their transportation, environmental and economic
performance with improved digitalisation. For this purpose,
the conducted research employed mixed methods and applied
concepts and approaches based on the eld of management.
For example, the construct of absorptive capacity, organisational
learning, transformation, resource-based view and the concept of
dynamic capabilities are included in the ecosystem discourse and
are linked with open innovation and service design. The research
presented in this article provides both theoretical and practical
contributions, in which the aected stakeholders can test and
utilise the developed tool as well as transfer it to other regions.
Keywords: blockchain, capacity building, digital transformation,
digitalisation, small ports, the Baltic Sea, training
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
1. Introduction
Seaports in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) as key regional nodes and gateways
of economic and social interactions play a key role in the distribution of
goods and services. Thus, millions of people are dependent on the seaports
for the provision of critical resources, such as food, energy, raw materials for
manufacturing, medical supplies and equipment, etc. As one of the top seas
worldwide in maritime trafc (Czermański, 2017), the BSR and its seaports
are also facing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to
a position paper of the Baltic Ports Organisation (BPO, 2020), ports are
expecting a noticeable decrease in areas of operations, such as vehicle
logistics as a result of the shutdown of manufacturing plants or container
and passenger trafc. Especially small and medium-sized ports of the BSR
are more exposed in this regard than big ports. One reason for this high
exposure is that the small and medium-sized ports are mainly located at the
periphery of the key nodes and centres of economic and social interaction,
such as the southern coasts of the BSR, for example, in Denmark, Sweden,
the northern part of Germany, the Polish coasts as well as the western
coastal region of Lithuania. These small and medium-sized ports, being only
partly members of the European TEN-T network, make up around 66% of
the total number of ports in the BSR (see European Commission, 2014).
They are characterised by smaller freight volumes, missing specialisation,
outdated infrastructure, lack of investments and demand for new business
models that might accelerate growth and innovation based on diversied
and different portfolios (Feng & Notteboom, 2013).
The small and medium-sized ports of the BSR appear to be under more
pressure to quickly respond to and adopt port operations and business
models to the ever-changing situation. The focus on digital technologies
enabling easier adaptation is regarded as a promising approach, since it
provides small and medium-sized ports with improved exibility due to the
upgrade of knowledge and skills as well as enabling better transnational
connecting by sharing and integrating services. As a result, such digital
technologies as blockchain, blockchain distributed ledger technology (DLT)
and data enabling technologies have become crucial for small and medium-
sized ports. Small and medium-sized ports are suggested to be more agile and
exible in dealing with the new market challenges (see Feng & Notteboom,
2013) and also digital transition, but are also limited in their human capital
and crucial employee skills, which are most effectively developed and
increased within the port environment (see Feng & Notteboom, 2013). This
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
contradiction forms the research problem of a missing conceptual capacity-
building framework for the digital transformation of the port sector.
In general, seaports increase their interconnection (Edler & Infante, 2019)
as well as digital performance as gateways between different countries
and their respective hinterland. Thus, new challenges may arise for the
port community which requires capacity-building frameworks beyond
port operations, engineering and management, while considering also the
skills and knowledge of general business, logistics and, especially, digital
transformation (Thai, 2012). With regard to the new roles and developments
of seaports as important actors in regional development and innovation
strategies (Emova & Gapochka, 2020; Philipp et al., 2020), to multimodal
nodes to break contact for economic and social welfare (Benassi et al., 2015;
Llano et al., 2017) and a multiport gateway for transnational connections
(Feng & Notteboom, 2013), the conceptual framework in this paper is based
on a cross-border perspective. Sweeney and Evangelista (2005) already
concluded back in 2005 that a cross-border approach is a more efcient
method for learning needs analysis, training design and implementation
for port communities, but to date there is no record of published research in
the particular eld nor consideration of these factors for deducing potential
cross-border capacity-building frameworks. This clearly postulates the
addressed research gap of this research.
Furthermore, Chen et al. (2017) analysed capacity-building activities in
small ports suggesting the approach of learning from others for an efcient
and successful improvement of the ports’ human resources. Therefore, this
article provides a theoretical contribution by lling the research gap of the
lack of cross-border concepts for the capacity building of port communities
in small and medium-sized ports with a focus on the BSR, by posing the
research question of how to structure an adoptable cross-border capacity-
building framework for the digital transformation of small and medium-
sized port ecosystems based on their actual skills and needs.
In addition, the article contributes by assisting practical research in the eld
as a rst step to develop a cross-border framework to be transferred and
offered to small and medium-sized ports as well as considering individual
regional preferences. Thus, the paper serves as a practical conceptualisation
of the implementation of capacity building to be directly transferred into a
running course programme for increasing the competitiveness of small and
medium-sized ports in the BSR and beyond.
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
By tackling this research question, the research objective of the current
article also contributes to the Blue Growth Strategy for the BSR (European
Commission, 2017) and the European Green Deal of the European Commission
(COM/2019/640 nal) by improving the conditions for the competitiveness
of small and medium-sized ports. Hence, the conducted research supports
European Blue Economy in line with Regional Innovation Strategies on
Smart Specialisation (RIS3), which is also seen as a crucial policy approach
for the implementation of the EU Green Deal (Gianelle et al., 2020; Larosse et
al., 2020). Besides research and development as well as networking, training
is seen as a key enabling procedure to foster and implement the smart
specialisation approach (Prause, 2014), underlining the importance of this
research article and its impact on the Baltic Sea and European development.
The article is structured as follows: the next chapter provides the theoretical
context with a focus on existing concepts and published research for small and
medium-sized ports as well as cross-border capacity building frameworks.
Following the introduction of the applied research methodology, a demand-
side analysis is provided by examining the particular digital needs of ports
and their human capital. In the fth chapter, the actual capacity-building
framework on cross-border perspective is developed and introduced, followed
by a conclusion and discussion of research results.
2. Theoretical background
In the eld of research and business, there is no unied denition on what
a small port actually is (PAC2, 2014). One policy used for classication is
that of the TEN-T network, which identies a port as small if it belongs
to the network as a comprehensive port or does not even belong to the
network. Feng and Notteboom (2011) developed applicable criteria as an
additional approach for dening a small port by means of transport volume,
international connectivity, relative cluster position, hinterland capture area
as well as the GDP of the port city and hinterland. Another approach to frame
small and medium-sized ports is classication according to their specic
main functionalities: (i) enhancing blue economy competitiveness; (ii) actors
in regionalisation processes and (iii) the key capacity to set up multiport
gateway regions (Notteboom, 2005; 2010; Feng & Notteboom, 2013).
In line with the development and digital transformation of small and medium-
sized ports, the term ‘smart ports’ is increasingly used in research papers
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
and studies (Philipp, 2020), dened as a fully automated port connected
via the internet of things (IoT) (Yang et al., 2018). Despite attempts to
benchmark smart ports (Molavi et al., 2019; Philipp, 2020; Rodrigo González
et al., 2020), no unied framework can be identied yet (Molavi et al., 2019).
Nevertheless, recent literature such as Heilig et al. (2017) and Ilin et al.
(2019) examined the digital transformation of seaports and concluded that
seaports have a high potential to improve productivity and efciency in
logistics by adopting key enabling technologies such as the internet of things,
big data, ICT software and simulations, augmented reality or autonomous
vehicles. However, the lack of awareness of small and medium-sized ports
about tailor-made IT solutions or the existing opportunities to improve
their infrastructure and supply chains still permeate through the industry
(Philipp et al., 2018). Along these lines, Verina and Titko (2019) identied
three main categories for a successful digital transformation: (i) technologies;
(ii) process and management and (iii) people. Despite the positive effects
on digital transformation, the capacity building of port employees/port
community leads to the improvement or success of organisational processes
(Saadat & Saadat, 2016), supply chain integration (Zhu et al., 2018) and port
performances (Meletiou, 2006).
This article focuses in particular on the category of people for a successful
digital transformation mentioned above; thus, the theoretical concepts of
knowledge base and absorptive learning (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990) as well as
collective learning (Bellini et al., 2020) are crucial for organisations to increase
their ability to identify and integrate new digital trends into their business
environment through existing human resources as well as to capitalise on the
competitive market (see Asheim et al., 2017; Barzotto et al., 2019).
Cross-border approaches for knowledge acquisition are seen as effective
learning opportunities capitalising on different skills, expertise and
organisational cultures (Inkpen, 1998; Sweeney & Evangelista, 2005). In
addition, facilitating knowledge creation and positive learning inuences the
internalisation processes of organisations (Bathelt & Li, 2020), underlining
the development of small and medium-sized ports into transnational
gateways (Feng & Notteboom, 2013). Nevertheless, the efciency of
cross-border approaches in learning must meet three key criteria:
learning intent, attractiveness of foreign learning source and the quality
of relationship between the recipient and the source (Pérez-Nordtvedt et
al., 2008). Additionally, cultural variations may inuence the efciency of
cross-border knowledge transfer (Bhagat et al., 2002). Furthermore, Van
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Tatenhove (2015) emphasised the impact of marine governances for the
particular eld of maritime capacity building. Hence, different governance
policies or frameworks can derail sufcient cross-border capacity building.
Nevertheless, while the governance circumstances may differ between
European seas—namely, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean
Sea and the North Sea—the settings are coherent within the region (Van
Leeuwen et al., 2012), which underlines the geographical research scope of
this article and the developed cross-border capacity-building framework—
the Baltic Sea Region.
3. Methodology
The conducted research is based on inductive perspectives, using audited
ports of the BSR as cases to analyse their needs for capacity building in
the eld of digital transformation. However, the article tries to gain insight
into and explain a phenomenon on the European level with data gathered
from a limited number of actors to develop and justify results applicable and
transferable to actors in the whole BSR.
The conducted research is based on primary data gained from audits
implemented with port representatives. The audit questionnaire was based
on the digital readiness index for ports, developed by Philipp (2020). In
total, 36 ports of the BSR were audited in line of face-to-face meetings or
via an online form. The questionnaire consists of 38 questions, covering
ve different dimensions to evaluate the digital readiness of a port. For
the implemented research, the authors used provided answers of the
dimension ‘Human Capital’ only. However, the conducted research paper
uses a mixed-methods approach with quantitative results of the audits to
derive qualitative conclusions. Furthermore, desk research and case studies
enlarged the scope of research activities.
Five methods were employed to explore the research objectives:
Research approach: mixed methods, inductive
Research tool: audits with 36 small and medium-sized ports of the BSR
Research time scope: 10/2019–07/2020
Research types: analytical, exploratory, qualitative, quantitative and
• Research methods: quantitative—data of implemented audits;
qualitative—case studies, desk research
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Hence, the inductive research and its results are based on the constructivism
and interpretivism of the researchers (see Mertens, 2010; Creswell, 2013,
pp. 15–41). Both perspectives are used in the following chapters to identify
the actually existing needs of small and medium-sized ports based on their
audit inputs. In the process, the needs determine the proposed modules in
the cross-border capacity-building framework, including their classication
as compulsory or optional to foster digital transformation in small and
medium-sized ports.
4. Demand-side analysis of capacity building in ports
In addition to the abovementioned research gap, port representatives
participating in the mentioned audits that were carried out in line with the
Connect2SmallPorts project emphasised a very low score (the average of 1.31
of 6) for the ‘IT Knowledge and Skills’ indicator, underlining the necessity
to devise a new conceptual framework to increase the digital knowledge of
the staff and port employees in small and medium-sized ports of the BSR.
Paradoxically, the score for ‘IT Training and Education Opportunities’ was
evaluated as quite high (the average of 3.97 of 6). This contrast suggests
that the existing training models and opportunities provide educational
content aside from the specic IT needs of small and medium-sized ports. To
minimise this identied opposition, the present research paper introduces
the cross-border conceptual framework of IT trainings for port employees/
In search for a well justied and efcient concept, the researchers developed
a demand analysis for capacity building based on the identied gaps in a
port community. The structure was proposed by Gerlitz (2017), who used an
evaluation system providing a scale of demand for thematic training modules.
Based on the evaluation, the cross-border concept serves as congenial supply
side. Table 1 illustrates the identied capacity-building demands, using the
average score of the respective parameter within the yielded results from
audits with 36 small and medium-sized ports in the BSR. As an evaluation,
four stages showcase the magnitude of demand for the chosen parameters:
0 (none), + (marginal), ++ (average) and +++ (essential).
Based on the answers given by port representatives, several aspects could be
excluded from the demand of capacity building for the port community. Firstly,
the usage of ‘Digital Communication Tools’ for the external dissemination
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
of port-related information is not a required content module for a training
concept. Logically, the responsibility for external communication via online
platforms and social media falls on a certain unit within the port ecosystem.
Secondly, four parameters were evaluated with a marginal demand to be
integrated in the concept of cross-border capacity building: ‘Usage of Drones’,
‘Localisation Technologies’, ‘IT and Data Security’ and ‘Operating Systems
and Processes’. Despite the integration of drone systems as a key technology
for the digital transformation of seaports (see Koroleva et al., 2019; Agatić &
Kolanović, 2020), only marginal demand could be identied in line with the
audits. The reason behind that might be an overall low readiness for such
high digital technologies in small and medium-sized ports (Philipp, 2020).
An opposite argumentation can be provided for localisation technologies.
This parameter’s demand is also evaluated as marginal with the underlying
reason that such technologies have already been used in seaports for a
long time, decreasing the need of capacity building in this particular eld
(Steenken et al., 2004). The demand for operating systems and IT security
is evaluated as being marginal as well. In the case of operating systems,
port employees are often already educated in the ports themselves. For IT
security, the authors do not comply with the yielded results and deduced
marginal demand. Literature such as Jović et al. (2019) indicates increasing
challenges and the importance of digital seaport security. Furthermore,
Urciuoli et al. (2013) identied a gap in common security courses at the
European level, which can be lled by the proposed cross-border concept.
Table 1. Evaluation of training demand parameter
Parameter Evaluation
Innovation Cooperation +++
Digital Business Models and Strategies +++
Usage of Blockchain Technologies +++
Big Data Analytics ++
Autonomous Solutions +++
Robotics and Articial Intelligence +++
Usage of Drones +
Localisation Technologies (GPS, RFID, etc.) +
IT and Data Security +
Internet of Things (IoT) ++
Operating Systems and Processes +
Digital Communication Tools 0
Source: Authors’ data
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Average demand in line with capacity building for port communities can be
identied for the handling of big data and the internet of things. The use of
both technologies is increasing in transport, logistics and maritime industry.
In addition, they are already identied as key enabling technologies for the
digital transformation of seaports (Sarabia-Jácome et al., 2019; Hopkins &
Hawking, 2018).
Essential demand can be identied within ve parameters—‘Innovation
Cooperation’, ‘Digital Business Models and Strategies’, ‘Usage of Blockchain
Technologies’, ‘Autonomous Solutions’ and ‘Articial Intelligence and
Robotics’. Those parameters will be adopted into training modules in line
with the capacity-building framework. Innovation cooperation will be
covered and supported by the cross-border approach of the concept. Articial
intelligence and robotics as well as autonomous solutions will be grouped
under one module, since these are future technologies with an increasing
demand in seaports (Ghaderi, 2017) but do not reect the current challenges
in small and medium-sized ports of the BSR.
In addition to the insights gained from the audits, a COVID-19 related
module will be incorporated as well. De Rooij et al. (2020) indicated the
main training needs of port communities in their business regarding the
impact of the current pandemic situation and regulations. As a result, four
topics with a high training demand were listed: routine vessel inspections,
ill travellers, prevention measures as well as ill and exposed travellers. All
four topics will be incorporated as one module to the cross-border capacity-
building framework.
5. The conceptual framework of cross-border capacity
As mentioned in the introduction, the maritime industry is facing new
challenges, but these challenges, in turn, provide opportunities in the
behaviour, interaction of port communities and access to new knowledge
and improved educational offers. The developed cross-border training is
intended as an online course to provide initial access for port representatives
and support the cross-border character. Nevertheless, the framework can be
adapted and implemented as a physical training schedule, but also in short
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
As to the demand-side analysis discussed in the previous chapter, the
following argumentation will provide the corresponding capacity-building
modules as the supply side. Basically, the framework can be divided into
three parts: (i) compulsory modules, (ii) regional modules and (iii) optional
modules. Compulsory modules are directly derived from the indicated
demands (average and essential). Optional modules cover digitalised
technologies, such as handling of autonomous vehicles which can be seen
as pre-education since the small and medium-sized ports in the Baltic Sea
area are currently on a lower digital level. Regional modules reect the
mentioned cross-border approach. The regions and countries face individual
challenges but can also provide specic knowledge and competences in
certain maritime elds. Therefore, an exchange between the regions is a
key part of the framework for efcient learning from each other and sharing
the best practices. This includes as a main requirement an exchange of
Figure 1. Cross-border capacity-building structure
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
regional maritime experts as lecturers or presenters in particular topics
in line with the online sessions. In addition, an exchange of expertise—
physical or online—offers high networking potential in the region for further
collaboration in the industry. Figure 1 tries to illustrate this structure with
all the three parts and presents the content covered in the proposed modules.
As mentioned, the compulsory modules are directly derived from the
indicated needs and contain ve main topics: Digital Strategy Development—
Module 1, Blockchain Integration—Module 2, IoT Integration—Module 3, IT
& Data Security—Module 4 and COVID-19—Module 5. For each module, the
main information of the topics requirements are covered by answering the
questions what, why, where, when and how.
The regional module—Module 6—is to be planned, organised and
implemented according to regional needs and competences as a mandatory
part of the training schedule. Since the framework aims to provide a
competence-building concept for the whole BSR, the heterogeneity of the
seaport is considered. This includes their strengths as well as weaknesses
in line with the digital transformation of small and medium-sized ports.
To create synergy effects and foster competitiveness as well as innovation
capacities for the region, the module is based on an exchange of expertise,
such as knowledge, experiences, best practices and/or case studies.
Optional modules mainly cover technologies which require a high level
of digital readiness and necessary infrastructures and can be enlarged
by more modules than illustrated in Figure 1. As explained above, small
and medium-sized ports are currently not in a position to integrate such
technologies. Nevertheless, the modules can be integrated if necessary or a
certain technology shall be implemented in the short-term perspective.
6. Discussion
The audits implemented in line with the European project Connect2SmallPorts
indicated a very low digital capacity of human resources in small and medium-
sized seaports of the BSR although opportunities for digital training were
ranked high by port representatives. The presented concept tackled this gap
in line with a missing collaboration and transregional view. The authors
have addressed both the research gap and objectives by setting up a cross-
border capacity-building framework for small and medium-sized ports as an
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
adoptable and well-justied training structure for the digital transformation
of port ecosystems.
Thus the research adds a new perspective to existing research in the
maritime eld by focusing on human capacity-building in applying digital
technologies in the small and medium-sized ports of the BSR. This differs
from previous researches related to digital transformation in the maritime
sector due to their focus on technological requirements (see Acciaro et al.,
2020; Voorspuij & Becha, 2021).
While the capacity-building framework presented in this paper focuses
on digital content only, it does not yet consider related policies, such as
the environmental impact of small and medium-sized ports as training
modules. Nevertheless, the current structure offers opportunities to add
content-related modules. Thus, special research is needed to justify further
involvement with regard to the needs and requirements of small and
medium-sized ports.
In addition, the framework needs a clear elaboration on its transferability
to other sea regions of the European Union. As Van Tatenhove (2015) has
pointed out, different marine governances can inuence the efciency of
maritime capacity building. Therefore, for transferring the framework to
other regions, for example, the North Sea or the Black Sea, further analysis
and elaboration on the modules has to be done.
Current limitations of the concept indicate a need to be aligned with the
regional module. The regional module requires further analysis. While the
rst four modules may be standardised up to a certain level, the regional
module can only be implemented in an efcient way as a tailor-made offer
for the participants. Therefore, it is necessary not only to analyse the port
demand but also regional challenges and opportunities to devise sufcient
training content for this module.
Nevertheless, the proposed cross-border capacity-building framework
can be implemented initially for port ecosystems to support the digital
transformation of small and medium-sized ports for the BSR. The rst
steps have already been made within the Connect2SmallPorts project in
developing and launching an online course portfolio, using the framework to
set up the required modules. Also, it would be valuable to launch a testing
phase to pilot the concept as physical training at small and medium-sized
ports to gather insights and feedback for concept adjustment.
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
7. Conclusion
The article aimed to develop a cross-border capacity-building framework for
port communities with a focus on their digital transformation to overcome
the challenges of small and medium-sized ports in the BSR and increase
their competitiveness using the available human resources.
An analysis of training demands based on the results of the audits showed
which particular elds need a higher focus to be covered in the training
of port communities. Hence, individual topics were deemed justied to be
implemented in compulsory modules in the training framework. In addition,
the authors integrated modules for IT security as well as prevention
measures in port operations due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on demand analysis, the framework was developed as tailor-
made supply side with three main parts: compulsory modules, a regional
module and optional modules. The cross-border aspect of the framework
is reected in the regional module by supporting the creation of synergy
effects in the BSR by expertise exchanges, for example, an exchange
of knowledge, experiences, lecturers, as well as the best practices and
case studies. Lastly, the digital technologies that require high digital
readiness or certain infrastructure in the ports were added as optional
modules to complete the cross-border capacity-building framework.
Christopher Meyer coordinates several European research projects at
the European Project Center associated with the University of Wismar.
After completing his master’s degree in public economics, he started his
studies as a PhD candidate at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia,
elaborating the impact of smart specialisation on the blue economy of
the Baltic Sea area.
Laima Gerlitz is a researcher at Wismar University of Applied Sciences:
Technology, Business and Design. She received her PhD focusing on the
elds of project design and transport-related management at Tallinn
University of Technology in 2018. Dr. Gerlitz’s current research interests
are: design and innovation, strategic design management, design
management for enterprises, competitiveness and value creation deriving
from design-driven approaches in organisational settings, particularly
in the context of small manufacturing and high-tech enterprises and
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Lawrence Henesey is an associated professor at Blekinge Institute of
Technology, Sweden. His work focuses on the applications of technologies
in distributed articial intelligence for improved performances in
logistics and transportation. Dr. Henesey has participated in various
international, European Union and national research projects as
principal investigator (PI), and has 29 years of industrial work
experience, has been employed with various international companies
all over Europe, the US and the Middle East. Dr. Henesey earned
his PhD in computer science from Blekinge Institute of Technology.
Acciaro, M.; Renken, K. & El Khadiri, N. (2020), ‘Technological change and logistics
development in European ports,’ European Port Cities in Transition: Strategies
for Sustainability, Cham: Springer, pp. 73–88.
Agatić, A. & Kolanović, I. (2020), ‘Improving the seaport service quality by
implementing digital technologies,’ Scientic Journal of Maritime Research,
vol. 34, pp. 93–101.
Asheim, B.; Grillitsch, M. & Trippl, M. (2017), ‘Smart specialization as an
innovation-driven strategy for economic diversication: examples from
Scandinavian regions,’ in Advances in the Theory and Practice of Smart
Specialization, London & Cambridge: Academic Press, pp. 73–97.
Barzotto, M.; Corradini, C.; Fai, F. M.; Labory, S. & Tomlinson, P. R. (2019),
‘Enhancing innovative capabilities in lagging regions: an extra-regional
collaborative approach to RIS3,’ Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and
Society, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 213–232.
Bathelt, H. & Li, P. (2020), ‘Processes of building cross-border knowledge
pipelines,’ Research Policy, vol. 49, no. 3, 103928.
Bellini, N.; Lazzeri, G. & Rovai, S. (2020), ‘Patterns of policy learning in the
RIS3 processes of less developed regions,’ Regional Studies, vol. 55, no. 3, pp.
Benassi, F.; Deva, M. & Zindato, D. (2015), ‘Graph regionalization with clustering
and partitioning: an application for daily commuting ows in Albania,’ Regional
Statistics, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 25–43.
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Bhagat, R. S.; Kedia, B. L.; Harveston, P. D. & Triandis, H. (2002), ‘Cultural
variations in the cross-border transfer of organizational knowledge: an
integrative framework,’ Academy of Management Review, vol. 27, no. 2,
pp. 204–221.
BPO (2020), COVID-19’s Impact on the Baltic Port & Shipping Industry – SITRAP,
Tallinn: Baltic Ports Organization & Baltic Transport Journal.
Chen, Y.; Zhou, L.; Zhou, Y. & Shen, R. (2017), ‘Analysis on the core capacity
building of different kinds of ports,’ Chinese Journal of Frontier Health and
Quarantine, no. 2.
Cohen, W. M. & Levinthal, D. A. (1990), ‘Absorptive capacity: A new perspective
on learning and innovation,’ Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 1,
pp. 128–152.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European
Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the
Committee of the Regions, The European Green Deal, COM/2019/640 nal,
Creswell, J. W. (2013), Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among
Five Approaches, 3rd ed., Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Czermański, E. (2017), ‘Baltic shipping development in maritime spatial planning
aspect,’ Studia i Materiały Instytutu Transportu i Handlu Morskiego, no. 14,
pp. 48–64.
De Rooij, D.; Belfroid, E.; Hadjichristodoulou, C.; Mouchtouri, V. A.; Raab, J.
& Timen, A. (2020), ‘Assessing training needs in infectious disease management
at major ports, airports and ground-crossings in Europe,’ Research Square
Edler, J. & Infante, V. (2019), ‘Maritime and other key transport issues for the
future – education and training in the context of lifelong learning,’ Transactions
on Maritime Science, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 84–98.
Emova, E. G. & Gapochka, A. A. (2020), ‘Seaports as drivers of regional economic
development: The case of Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Province,’ Case Studies
on Transport Policy, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 383–393.
European Commission (2014), List of Sea Ports in the Core and Comprehensive
Networks. Retrieved fromles/
modes/maritime/ports/doc/2014_list_of_329_ports_june.pdf [accessed Feb 2020]
European Commission (2017), Towards an Implementation Strategy for the
Sustainable Blue Growth Agenda for the Baltic Sea Region, Luxembourg:
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (European Commission),
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Feng, L. & Notteboom, T. (2011), ‘Small and medium-sized ports (SMPs) in
multi-port gateway regions: the role of Yingkou port in the logistics systems
of the Bohai Sea,’ in T. Notteboom (ed.) Current Issues in Shipping, Ports and
Logistics, Brussels: University Press Antwerp, pp. 543–563.
Feng, L. & Notteboom, T. (2013), ‘Peripheral challenge by small and medium
sized ports (SMPs) in multi-port gateway regions: the case study of northeast
of China,’ Polish Maritime Research, Special Issue, vol. 20, pp. 55–66.
Gerlitz, L. (2017), ‘Design management as a domain of smart and sustainable
enterprise: business modelling for innovation and smart growth in Industry
4.0,’ Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 244–268.
Ghaderi, H. (2017), ‘Autonomous technologies in short sea shipping: trends,
feasibility and implications,’ Transport Reviews, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 152–173.
Gianelle, C.; Kyriakou, D.; McCann, P. & Morgan, K. (2020), ‘Smart Specialisation
on the move: reections on six years of implementation and prospects for the future,’
Regional Studies, vol. 54, no. 10, pp. 1323–1327.
Heilig, L.; Lalla-Ruiz, E. & Voß, S. (2017), ‘Digital transformation in maritime
ports: analysis and a game theoretic framework,’ NETNOMICS: Economic
Research and Electronic Networking, vol. 18, pp. 227–254. https://doi.
Hopkins, J. & Hawking, P. (2018), ‘Big data analytics and IoT in logistics: a case
study,’ The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 29, no. 2,
pp. 575–591.
Ilin, I.; Jahn, C.; Weigell, J. & Kalyazina, S. (2019), ‘Digital technology
implementation for smart city and smart port cooperation,’ in Atlantis
Highlights in Computer Sciences: Proceedings of the International Conference
on Digital Transformation in Logistics and Infrastructure, St. Petersburg,
Russia, pp. 498–501.
Inkpen, A. C. (1998), ‘Learning and knowledge acquisition through international
strategic alliances,’ Academy of Management Perspectives, vol. 12, no. 4,
pp. 69–80.
Jović, M.; Tijan, E.; Aksentijević, S. & Čišić, D. (2019), ‘An overview of security
challenges of seaport IoT systems,’ in 42nd International Convention on
Information and Communication Technology, Electronics and Microelectronics
(MIPRO), 20–24 May 2019, Opatija, Croatia.
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Koroleva, E.; Sokolov, S.; Makashina, I. & Filatova, E. (2019), ‘Information
technologies as a way of port activity optimization in conditions of digital
economy,’ E3S Web of Conferences, vol. 138, 02002.
Larosse, J.; Corpakis, D. & Tuffs, R. (2020), The Green Deal and Smart
Specialisation, Friends of Smart Specialisation, EFIS, Version 4, 20.2.2020.
Llano, C.; De la Mata, T.; Díaz-Lanchas, J. & Gallego, N. (2017), ‘Transport-
mode competition in intra-national trade: an empirical investigation for the
Spanish case,’ Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, vol. 95,
pp. 334–355.
Meletiou, M. (2006), ‘Improved port performance through training: the contribution
of the International Labour Organization,’ in Human Resources and Sea Ports
Performance Proceedings of 22nd International Port Conference, Alexandria,
Mertens, D. M. (2010), Research and Evaluation in Education and Psychology:
Integrating Diversity with Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods,
3rd ed., Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Molavi, A.; Lim, G. J. & Race, B. (2020), ‘A framework for building a smart port and
smart port index,’ International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, vol. 14,
no. 9, pp. 686–700.
Notteboom, T. E. (2005), ‘The peripheral port challenge in container port systems,’ in
H. Leggate, J. Mcconville & A. Morvillo (eds.) International Maritime Transport
Perspectives, New York: Routledge, pp. 173–188.
Notteboom, T. E. (2010), ‘Concentration and the formation of multi-port gateway
regions in the European container port system: an update,’ Journal of
Transport Geography, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 567–583.
PAC2 (2014), A Cluster Initiative: Small and Medium Sized Ports as Hubs for
Smart Growth and Sustainable Connectivity, 2 Seas Magazine – Special Focus,
November 2014, ch. 1, pp. 6–15.
Pérez-Nordtvedt, L.; Kedia, B. L.; Datta, D. K. & Rasheed, A. A. (2008),
‘Effectiveness and efciency of cross-border knowledge transfer: an empirical
examination,’ Journal of Management Studies, vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 714–744.
Philipp, R. (2020), ‘Digital readiness index assessment towards smart port
development,’ Sustainability Management Forum, vol. 28, pp. 49–60.
Philipp, R.; Gerlitz, L. & Moldabekova, A. (2020), ‘Small and medium-sized
seaports on the digital track: tracing digitalisation across the South Baltic region
by innovative auditing procedures,’ Proceedings of International Conference on
Cross-Border Capacity-Building for Port Ecosystems
in Small and Medium-Sized Baltic Ports
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Reliability and Statistics in Transportation and Communication, pp. 351–362.
Philipp, R.; Gerlitz, L. & Prause, G. (2018), ‘Regional Häfen auf Digitalisierungskurs:
Intelligentes Wachstum und nachhaltige Wertschöpfung entlang der kleinen
und mittel-großen Häfen des Ostseeraumes,’ in A. Cleve, E. Alde & M. Wißotzki
(eds.) Proceedings of WiWiTa 2018 Conference, Wismar, pp. 77–86.
Prause, G. (2014), ‘Smart specialisation and EU Eastern Innovation Cooperation:
a conceptual approach,’ Baltic Journal of European Studies, vol. 4, no. 1(16),
pp. 3–19.
Rodrigo González, A.; González-Cancelas, N.; Molina Serrano, B. &
Orive, A. C. (2020), ‘Preparation of a smart port indicator and calculation of a
ranking for the Spanish port system,’ Logistics, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 9.
Saadat, V. & Saadat, Z. (2016), ‘Organizational learning as a key role of
organizational success,’ Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 230, 3rd
International Conference on New Challenges in management and Organization:
Organization and Leadership, 2 May 2016, Dubai, UAE, pp. 219–225.
Sarabia-Jácome, D.; Lacalle, I.; Palau, C. E. & Esteve, M. (2019), ‘Enabling
industrial data space architecture for seaport scenario,’ in IEEE 5th World
Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT), Limerick, Ireland, pp. 101–106.
Steenken, D.; Voß, S. & Stahlbock, R. (2004), ‘Container terminal operation and
operations research—a classication and literature review,’ OR Spectrum, vol.
26, pp. 3–49.
Sweeney, E. & Evangelista, P. (2005), ‘Port community learning needs: analysis
and design,’ Pomorski zbornik, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 27–43.
Thai, V.V. (2012), ‘Competences required by port personnel in the new era: conceptual
framework and case study,’ International Journal of Shipping and Transport
Logistics, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 49–77.
Urciuoli, L.; Ekwall, D. & Torstensson, H. (2013), ‘Achieving harmonized port
security training in Europe—a critical review of EU legislative frameworks,’
Journal of Transport and Security, vol. 6, pp. 357–375.
Van Leeuwen, J.; Van Hoof, L. & Van Tatenhove, J. (2012), ‘Institutional
ambiguity in implementing the European Union marine strategy framework
directive,’ Marine Policy, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 636–643.
Van Tatenhove, J. P. (2015), ‘Marine governance: institutional capacity-building in
a multi-level governance setting,’ in M. Gilek & K. Kern (eds.) Governing Europe’s
Christopher Meyer
Laima Gerlitz
Lawrence Henesey
TalTech Journal of European Studies
Tallinn University of Technology (ISSN 2674-4619), Vol. 11, No. 1 (33)
Marine Environment: Europeanization of Regional Seas or Regionalization of
EU Policies, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 35–52.
Verina, N. & Titko, J. (2019), ‘Digital transformation: conceptual framework,’ in
Contemporary Issues in Business, Management and Economics Engineering
2019. International Scientic Conference, 9–10 May, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Voorspuij, J. & Becha, H. (2021), ‘Digitalisation in maritime regional and
global supply chains,’ in M. Lind, M. Michaelides, R. Ward & R. T. Watson
(eds.) Maritime Informatics, Cham: Springer, pp. 65–80.
Yang, Y.; Zhong, M.; Yao, H.; Yu, F.; Fu, X. & Postolache, O. (2018), ‘Internet of
Things for smart ports: technologies and challenges,’ IEEE Instrumentation &
Measurement Magazine, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 34–43.
Zhu, Q.; Krikke, H. & Caniëls, M. C. J. (2018), ‘Supply chain integration: value
creation through managing inter-organizational learning,’ International
Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 211–229.
... These issues arise from opposing actions, beliefs, and desires. Furthermore, challenges exist in terms of blockchain implementation [41,42,43], security [40,44,45], awareness [46,47,48] and policy [49,50]. Various types of challenges that have been identified from the selected studies are identified as follows. ...
... According to prior literature [47,53,79], large organizations have already been collaborating with their partners using blockchain-based digital platforms. However, SMEs have been either slow or still considering how to benefit from blockchain platforms [43,48,71]. Nevertheless, companies are considering adopting blockchain after being aware of the technology and recognizing its merits. ...
... Most of the research is focused on supply chain transformation [17,55,64,68]. Nevertheless, other industries were outlined, such as manufacturing [70], financial [46], maritime shipping [43,70], aviation [77], gaming [48], etc. Industry factors (e.g. ...
Full-text available
Digital transformation is an inevitable trend that impacts all industries, and blockchain is one technology that drives it along with other emerging technologies. This paper conducts a systematic literature review (SLR) on how blockchain enables digital transformation. We analyzed 41 articles to identify the current state, clarify research gaps, and highlight future research agendas. The results reveal that blockchain is a promising technology that has great potential and can offer several opportunities for various companies. Collected articles contain evidence regarding challenges and barriers, as well as potential benefits of blockchain in relation to digital transformation. We also classified the research domains where blockchain is mostly mentioned into 3 big groups. Through the detailed assessment of the chosen studies, a theoretical framework for blockchain enabled digital transformation has been developed. Finally, we highlight open issues that can be handled in future research to overcome barriers and address the challenges concerning blockchain adoption.
... Current literature highlights digital and green transition as key success factors in logistics, which especially applies to small and medium ports since their economic success depends to big extent on their compatibility and the quality of their communication links to larger ports [13.] However, several studies are focusing and examining digitalization measurements for ports (partly including SMSPs) already [14][15][16][17]. ...
... Based on the previous deliverable and Activities, the detailed methodology for the tool will be developed. It contains and summarises the most applicable green technologies for SMSPs towards their transition being identified or created as well as an additional perspective on human factors in term of green energy transition and driver for sustainable port development in SMSPs [15]. Here, the project foresees to offer capacity building opportunities such as online seminars dedicated for port employees at any level to not only create awareness of the topic, but also increase knowledge. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
European ports are facing high political pressure through the implementation of initiatives, such as the European Green Deal or IMO's 2030 targets (Fit for 55). However, Small and Medium-Sized Ports (SMSPs) face even higher challenges compared to bigger ones due to lower capacities in various fields such as investments, infrastructure, Human Resources (HR) and funding opportunities. Role of SMSPs are various depending on their specific functional-ity in maritime ecosystems. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the own strategic position and apply management strategies for a successful sustainable and digital transformation in the context the regional growth on the one hand, and innovation strategies for diversification or specialisation of own port businesses on the other one. With this aim in hand, the authors designed and have been co-funded in June 2023 the cross-border EU project focusing on energy transition in SMSPs across the South Baltic Area (SBA), thus paving the way to sustainable and digital transformation on regional and macro-regional level. The research uses inductive perspectives to set up a transferable framework in port-city ecosystems on regional level, which could facilitate green energy transition in SMSPs. The design of the synergetic concept for port-city innovation ecosystem for energy transition builds upon the identified interactions and interface between SMSPs and cities in the context of energy transition. The data was collected during the project design phase and is underpinned by deployed SMSPs use case scenarios and backed-up by expert interviews collected during the project preparation phase.
... Also, other research items are already covering these specific areas in port related literature towards digital and / or environmental transition. Here, sufficient business modelling [52], Entrepreneurial Culture [53], [54] and Capacity Building [55] are emphasised as additional enabler for SMSP ecosystem setup. Fig. 2 illustrates the introduced framework including the positioning of identified trigger to initiate a SMSPs ecosystem. ...
Full-text available
Despite the highest competition among the big EU seaports – gateways and hubs, such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg or Valencia, etc. which stand for the Core Ports in the European Union (EU) Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Core and Comprehensive Network, the present paper addresses challenges and raises potentials immanent in Small and Medium-Sized Ports (SMSPs) in the EU. Environmental responsibility and digital efficiency – Europe’s twin to a green and digital economy paves the way for SMSPs to improve innovation capacity, upgrade demanded future skills and competencies, accelerate EU policies compliant operational, environmental, digital, social and market performance. The paper deploys a multi-case study approach. Using an ecosystem approach, the paper reveals potentials and pinpoints to key short- and long-term challenges pursuant to SMSPs in the three different EU macro-regions – Baltic Sea Region, Adriatic-Ionian Sea Region and Mediterranean Sea Region along the three TEN-T Core Network Corridors Orient-East Med, North Sea-Baltic and Scandinavian-Mediterranean. Departing from the role model – Baltic Sea Region – ports of Kaunas, Klaipeda & Wismar are connected via TEN-T corridors with ports of Bari and Corfu. In this vein, knowledge, skills and best practices are transferred from the North Europe to the South and vice versa using the concepts of co-creation and servitisation. Illustrated case studies reveal how all SMSPs are capable to kick-start environmental and digital transition through co-creation and servitisation mindset in a SMSP ecosystem conceptualisation.
... The growing importance of knowledge and innovation for sustainable socio-economic development is also relevant for coastal areas with specific spatial innovation activity forms: marine clusters [18], maritime knowledge clusters [19], smart sea ecosystems [20], smart seaports [21], etc. The accumulation of sea-related knowledge and competencies within these territorial innovation models is as important as the localization of appropriate infrastructure, the availability of human resources or the location of natural objects. ...
Full-text available
Marine and coastal economies are the drivers of growth for many nations around the world. Close proximity to the sea generates positive externalities being especially strong in coastal areas, whose effective governance is a challenge. The greatest challenge to date is ambiguity in delimitation of a coastal zone, as static criteria based on density of population and industry, are limited in our understanding of the functional connectivity of the sea and land. This article studies functional boundaries of a coastal zone by focusing on the geoinformation analysis of marine-related R&D. We hypothesize that maritime knowledge flows between the customers and contractors of R&D projects can outline the actual configuration of coastal zone in its knowledge production domain. The research data is sourced from ROSRID database of 2017-2019, covering 1,773 marine-related R&D projects funded or executed by entities located across 119 municipalities of 64 regions in Russia. The results of the study showed that maritime knowledge flows are not limited to coastal municipalities or even coastal regions. Some research areas, such as Fisheries, aquaculture and marine life studies, are more localized in coastal zones than others, although featuring an overall strong interconnectedness between inland and coastal territories. Functional delimitation of coastal zone management areas using dynamic data on spatial networks can enhance the effectiveness of coastal zone management.
... Attention is also paid to port operations considering their size [53]. The role of small and medium-sized ports in enhancing the competitiveness and logistics performance of multi-port gateway regions and associated inland logistics systems was analysed by Feng and Notteboom [21,54]. ...
Full-text available
Currently, seaports are actively searching for methods and ways to improve their operational efficiency. Digitalization is considered as one of the main directions of current ports’ development. Ports’ digitalization levels are varied and may depend on different factors, including port size, traditions, turnover and handled cargo type, etc. Ports often face decision-making challenges related to assessment of their digitization level and choice of development directions. The article aims to develop a methodology to evaluate ports’ digitalization level. A marketing research tool was used to collect the data needed for the analysis. A mathematical model allowing simulations is proposed and a case study of 30 ports located in the Baltic, North and Mediterranean Seas regions is explored. Based on conducted calculations, a ranking of analysed ports considering their digitalization level was created. The ports were compared within groups of small, medium-sized and large ports. It was estimated that the digitalization level in small and medium-sized ports is about 30% lower than the level of large seaports. The research results may be of interest to seaports striving to assess their level of digitalization and choose the best digital improvement solutions.
... Other areas have also received studies related to the current pandemic and the blockchain technology. For instance, in the logistics area, [1] proposed a model to evaluate the viability of using blockchain in a public distribution supply chain system to overcome issues as inaccuracies and demand disruptions, and [40] aimed to develop a crossborder capacity-building framework for small and mediumsized ports communities with focus on digital transformation to overcome to overcome challenges and increase their competitiveness. For agriculture, [10] a blockchain-bases system to improve the tracking issues related to asymmetric information in the post COVID-19 pandemic. ...
Full-text available
The impacts caused by the unprecedented transmission of COVID-19 have given rise to new challenges that are shaking the structures of humanity. Several enabling technologies are currently being used as key strategies in creating improvements and responses to the difficulties created by the pandemic and blockchain is one of these solution proposals. Within this scenario, this work aims to study and analyze how the blockchain technology can help in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic through a systematic review of the literature. Although the study is limited by the moment when the crisis is still in progress, the results show that it is clear that the adoption of the blockchain can effectively help in the fight against the coronavirus, considering that the main features of the blockchain can support the successful implementation of many use cases. This paper has the role of assisting academics and professionals in identifying the application focus of the blockchain, as well as showing the main opportunities and challenges and the relevance of the subject to the current context of the pandemic.
... As the research has paid more attention to the Management and Human Capital dimension for port development, it is in line with existing literature emphasising their great value in port development (Notteboom et al., 2020;Saadat & Saadat, 2016;Zhu et al., 2018) and especially in terms of innovation for smaller ports (Meletiou, 2006;Meyer et al., 2021) as they play a key role in sustainable development (Damman & Steen, 2021). ...
Full-text available
Small and medium-sized ports (SMSPs) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) are caught in a dilemma of less financial support by the European funding programmes due to their peripheral position in the TEN-T Core Network. Most of the BSR ports belong to the TEN-T Comprehensive Network, which is rationally less important in the topical financial, infrastructural and policy discourses. Despite this, BSR ports are of a colossal importance for the regional economic development serving as gateways for the individual regions and drivers of socio-economic and environmental transition. In addition, ports are essential in pursuing new innovation avenues. The environmental targets published by the European Commission for maritime sector in 2030 and 2050 are applicable for SMSPs as well, creating further obstacles and future challenges on the one hand, but opening new horizons to grow and innovate on the other one. A successful environmental and digital transformation going hand in hand in SMSPs enable sustainable boost of sustainable development. Thus, as a first step, the assessment of sustainable readiness in SMSPs is incumbent in order to implement tailor-made solutions on individual basis, by ensuring efficient usage of available resources and capabilities. In line with the Connect2SmallPorts project, part-financed by the INTERREG South Baltic Programme, 38 SMSPs in the BSR were approached to mapping their digital readiness according to the methodology of the Digital Readiness Index for Ports (DRIP), published within the project in 2020. Building upon this, this paper introduces the idea of digital and environmental twinning to conclude on sustainable development potentials in SMSPs with an adaptation of the DRIP score. Hence, the research contributes to the sustainable port concept and illustrates the positioning of SMSPs in the progress of sustainable development.
Full-text available
Across the globe marine coasts are experiencing an outstripping growth of the population and economic activity, a phenomenon known as coastalization. Most global cities and industry clusters are located in coastal regions acting as economic growth nodes for their respective countries. This divergence is equally true for national innovation systems, gravitating towards highly urbanized coastal areas. The study is designed to evaluate the spatial stratification of the knowledge production between the coastal regions located in different marine basins - Azov-Black, Caspian, Baltic, Arctic, and Pacific. In order to level-out the national differences of the innovation policy and institutional architecture, the research is held in a single country - the Russian Federation. Our research hypothesis suggests that the knowledge production domain of the innovation activity is influenced by urbanization and coastalization, i.e. the proximity to the core city and the coast. We also expect that the coastalization factor would be reflected in intensified involvement of coastal municipalities in knowledge production networks. The study is based on processing the ROSRID database of 66,647 research projects implemented in 2017-2019 and geocoded using the Yandex.Maps API. The research has shown that the urbanization factor has the strongest influence in configuration of R&D networks - the core centers of knowledge production are the largest cities in marine basins that give further impetus to the involvement of neighboring municipalities. Nearly 70% of municipalities across marine basins have limited or no involvement in the knowledge production, except the Baltic and Azov-Black Sea basins that feature the strongest performance. Overall, the proximity to the coast of non-freezing seas has a positive correlation with the number of R&Ds executed and funded. Considering the research topics, the share of marine-related research is typically funded by coastal regions, whereas the executed R&Ds cover a broad variety of topics. Research results enrich the notion of geography of innovation and advance our understanding of the spatial factors in knowledge distribution within the national innovation system.
Full-text available
The purpose of this research is to investigate the association of the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial team with organizational Resilience. In an uncertain environment, whether new ventures can form entrepreneurial resilience at the organizational level in adverse events becomes the key to sustainable development. Based on the theory of heterogeneous advantage and identity characteristics, this manuscript constructed a research framework of “Structure-Behavior-Result” and described the mechanism and boundary conditions of the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial team affecting organizational resilience in detail. The role of Confucian traditional culture as a moderator has also been analyzed. Data has been obtained from 390 entrepreneurs in China. All hypotheses were tested using moderated mediation model. It has been found that the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial team has positive effect on organizational resilience. It has also been discovered that cross-boundary search behavior acted as a partial mediator between the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial team and organizational resilience. The Confucian traditional culture strengthens the relationship between them. The results are helpful in understanding the internal mechanism of the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial team affecting organizational resilience. Theoretical and practical implications have been highlighted and future research suggestions have been provided.
Full-text available
Six years have passed since Smart Specialisation was incorporated in European Cohesion Policy and became the reference framework for innovation policy in European regions and countries. One year before the beginning of the new Cohesion Policy cycle, it is now the right time to strike a balance in the Smart Specialisation experience and support the design of the upcoming generation of policy strategies with sound evidence on what has worked and what not. Smart Specialisation can play a central role in supporting innovative activities that help territories discover new opportunities for more sustainable and inclusive economies. A necessary condition for this to happen is to make a critical examination of the Smart Specialisation experience starting from the processes deployed in the territories and using data on the real implementation of the policy. The papers in this special issue identify and analyse five different challenges and opportunities that emerged during the implementation of the Smart Specialisation policy: 1. Policy capacity and institutional factors that affect the governance of policy processes. 2. Prioritization and selectivity of investment decisions. 3. The design of incentive schemes to mobilize entrepreneurial forces. 4. The analytical base in support of policy design. 5. The potential of green growth.
Full-text available
The process of digitalization i.e. implementation of digital technologies is widely present in the seaports. Digitalization encourages seaports to adjust and implement digital technologies in providing their services, while constantly striving to stay efficient, profitable and competitive. The implementation of digital technologies results in altered perspective of seaport service quality. Since seaport service quality is not prescribed and strictly defined, the importance of digitalization should be taken into consideration, which includes redefining the seaport service quality factors. Worlds’ leading seaports, especially leading European seaports, recognized the possibilities of digital technologies in providing quality seaport services and are investing in their implementation. In this paper, seaport service quality is analysed in the context of digitalization i.e. the implementation of digital technologies. The purpose of this paper is to define the quality factors and opportunities for improving seaport service quality based on the analysis of digital technologies implemented in seaports.
Full-text available
Background: The implementation of core capacities as stated in the International Health Regulations (IHR) is far from complete, and, as the COVID-19 pandemic shows, the spreading of infectious diseases through points of entry (POEs) is a serious problem. To guide training and exercises, we performed a training needs assessment on infectious disease management among professionals at European POE. Methods: We disseminated a digital questionnaire to representatives of designated airports, ports, and ground-crossings in Europe. Topics were derived from the IHR core capacities for POEs. Based on the importance (4-point Likert scale) and training needs (4-point Likert scale), we identified the topics with the highest priority for training. These results were put in further perspective using prior experience (training <3 year, exercise <5 years, events <5 years). Also, preferences for training methodologies were assessed. Results: Fifty questionnaires were included in the analyses, representing 50 POEs from 19 European countries. Importance is high for 26/30 topics, although scores widely vary among respondents. Topics with a high training need (16/30) are amongst others the handling of ill travelers; using and composing the public health emergency contingency plan, and public health measures. Respondents from ports and airports attribute equal importance to most topics, but respondents from ports showed higher training needs on 75% of the topics. POEs are unevenly and generally little experienced. The most preferred training methods were presentations. Simulation is the preferred methodology for training the handling of ill or exposed travelers. Conclusions: The European workforce at designated ports, airports and ground-crossings has a different level of experience and perceives varying importance of the topics assessed in our study. We identified the topics on which training is required. We call for European collaboration between POEs to agree upon the importance of infectious disease management, and to jointly build a trained and prepared workforce that is ready to face the next crisis.
Full-text available
Digital technologies receive more and more attention in the maritime transport sector. Large ports such as Rotterdam or Antwerp are already heavily investing in digital databased technologies and thus, continue to rely on a sustainable expansion of these advanced technologies that promise security, process optimization and sustainability. Conversely, especially smaller ports have no or limited knowledge on what Industry 4.0, IoT and Blockchain are and what potentials they may have. Nevertheless, without the inclusion of small and medium-sized ports, the innovative idea towards a smart port development stays unachievable. Related to this, there exist a lack of concepts and models for measuring the digital performance of ports. Without such tools, it is impossible to audit the digital status of ports and to derive a concrete strategic roadmap for the digital transformation of ports. Accordingly, in this study, the research questions will be investigated, how the digital performance of ports can be assessed, and which strategic recommendations can be derived for ports regarding a sustainable development towards a smart port. Building upon the received qualitative data that were gathered through an online survey and IT based expert interviews, a digital readiness index for ports is applied in case of five selected seaports. The results will show that building upon the benchmarking and indexing of the ports, the current strategic positioning of the ports becomes apparent. Through this, the respective strategic recommendations for a sustainable development towards a smart port can be derived in accordance to each port classification.
Full-text available
Nowadays, the denomination of “smart” is associated with several production and management devices and to logistics and distribution, too. Thus, this qualification is used in different application fields. All of them are different and diverse, but the most important common characteristics of these devices or Smart Systems are based on their novel and more efficient way of working. The smart trend is consolidated in the port environment, too. The ports’ need to become more intelligent is modifying their own operations. Therefore, this paper includes an analysis of Spanish Port System, in order to evaluate its ports, considering the new concept called “Smart Port”. Some indicators and measure variables are defined, to allow for quantifying technical items. These items—both quantitative and qualitative ones—which reflect, in the most objective and complete way possible, the adaptation and achievement of characteristics and objectives associated with the Smart Port concept in all ports were studied, in order to obtain an index of Smart Ports that allows us to calculate the ranking of the Spanish Smart Ports. Considering the analysis of the Smart Port concept and its current and future trends, it has been determined that the development of a port must be based on the digitalization, on use of ICT and on automation of port processes.
Maritime transportation traditionally connects poorly with the end-to-end supply chain. Currently many of the stakeholders in supply chains relying on maritime transportation are reviewing their stance towards their service providers in maritime transportation. This chapter looks at who they are, what forces are transforming their industries and what additional requirements they are now placing on maritime transportation. These new requirements necessitate nothing less than a transformation of maritime transportation away from paper-based operations and siloed processes to paperless operations and integrated processes that interconnect seamlessly in an end-to-end supply chain.
The implementation of the Smart Specialisation approach was expected to require an especially challenging commitment to policy learning in less advanced regions compared with advanced ones. This paper suggests a partially different analytical framework by discussing the relevance of path dependency in the design and implementation of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). The research question concerns the relationship between previous experiences in innovation policy also in less advanced regions and RIS3 policy processes. Based on the two case studies of Sicily and Apulia (Italy), the paper investigates in which way policy heritage contributed to the quality of processes and outcomes.
Two classic perspectives of knowledge generation across space can be distinguished: one that focuses on localized knowledge networks in communities or clusters and another that investigates how innovation is linked to global knowledge networks of multinational enterprises. The former view has been prevalent in economic geography, the latter in international business. By integrating both perspectives, this paper focuses on the processes of how firms extend their knowledge networks from local to global settings. It develops a four-stage model of building cross-border knowledge pipelines, involving site selection, cross-border knowledge facilitation, local embedding, and cross-border knowledge generation. The model emphasizes the significant role of knowledge facilitators in building cross-border knowledge pipelines and is substantiated in a typical case study of Canadian firms in China.
Digitalisation and the steady increasing wide range of related novel technologies are currently and in the next years of high topicality in policy, business and research landscape. This rising interest evolved over the last decade and resulted into different use cases of these data-enabled technologies in distinct industries like manufacturing, IT and logistics. Thereby, digitalisation is often regarded as the saviour for managing the challenges in further growing globalisation, competition and environmental issues as well as customeroriented supply chain focus. In order to keep pace with the fast changing market environment and customer needs, especially small and medium-sized ports have to take action now, since their bigger counterparts are already heavily investing in digital technologies, as they have recognised the added value. First empirical results from the EUproject Connect2SmallPorts have shown that small ports in the South Baltic Sea Region have a common and high interest in digitalisation, but often do not know about the already existing wide range of digital technologies and the arising benefits. Accordingly, in accordance with the INTERREG project Connect2SmallPorts, the present research aims to develop a digital auditing tool in order to discover the digital status of small and medium-sized seaports. The research builds upon on an extensive literature review and further utilises innovative approaches and combines theoretical concepts as well as projectgathered practical insights. The research results will showcase a target-group-oriented (here: small and medium-sized ports) digital auditing tool that will be applied in the further course of the EU-project Connect2SmallPorts.
Digital technologies are a key element in the logistics sector development. The so-called digital revolution that began in the 1980s, on the basis of the increasingly widespread use of automation, artificial intelligence and robotics in production processes, is changing the face of world logistics, a change often referred to as Logistics 4.0. Building on the impact of digitalisation on other sectors, port cities are also expected to see the emergence of new business models in the coming years, made possible by the advancement of digital technologies. Some researchers and practitioners even foresee the development of a global cargo handling system similar to the Internet, called Physical Internet (PI), in which goods would be moved seamlessly on an intermodal network at very low costs thanks to state-of-the-art data management technologies. The development of a PI-based logistics model requires new methods of monitoring and managing data, on the physical characteristics of the goods, as well as on the financial flows and traceability of the products; and ports are likely to play a critical role in favouring the uptake of such data collections and use. One of the most promising enablers to this vision is blockchain, a technology that would make it possible to document an increasingly large number of characteristics of a product or a commodity. The shipping sector cannot be caught unprepared, and adequate support is also needed inside ports. This chapter reviews the current technology and digitalisation trends in ports, advancing hypotheses on how they are likely to change port-city cargo—but also people—mobility and influence port logistics.