Success Conditions for Innovation Among Seaport Operators: a QCA Approach
Thierry Vanelslander, University of Antwerp, Christa Sys, University of Antwerp, Michele Acciaro, Kühne Logistics University
This paper makes an application to innovation by seaport operators through a number of cases. In order to be able to derive meaningful conclusions from the set of cases, the fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) technique is used.
Innovation in general seems to happen very rapidly these days. It therefore very strongly steers the pace and the way with which economic sectors are developing, and manage to remain competitive. However, the poor innovative strength displayed by the transport sector in the broad sense often contrasts strongly with that evidenced elsewhere. A comparative study by the International Transport Forum (2012) has shown the transport sector to score less than the average for the economy as a whole when it comes to innovation. At the same time, it can be concluded from existing literature and studies that quite a lot of innovative concepts in transportation have been studied in detail (e.g. Trujillo and Medda, 2009; Aronietis et al., 2009; Kapros, 2010; Gevaers et al;, 2010, Arduino et al., 2011). The main focus hitherto however has always been on inventing or introducing new concepts and procedures.
Taking into account the main observations from the state of the art on transport innovation, it is clear that innovation in surface transportation and in logistics chains, as a change producing mechanism, needs to be much further assessed and benchmarked, so as to assess which innovations will generate which chain impacts, which conditions will conduce actors to innovate, or prevent them from doing so, and finally also what governments can do to stimulate innovation.
This paper makes an application to innovation by seaport operators through a number of cases. On these cases, a standard set of information is collected. For collecting the information, use is made of existing documents on the cases at hand, on which a literature review is performed. Equally, sector and project contacts are used for verifying and completing the set of information on each case. In order to be able to derive meaningful conclusions from the set of cases, the fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) technique is used.
The policy and practical dimension of the research results makes them relevant to a range of stakeholders within the transport community, particularly governments, financing bodies, transport service providers, etc. The innovation success condition analysis is an exercise which is novel as far as seaport operators are concerned. This should allow drawing conclusions with respect to important commonalities and dissimilarities between seaport innovation cases.
The application of the fsQCA method is limited to the extent that sufficient data need to be available from the cases on each of the variables listed. Equally, one should be aware that the results give an indication of where the innovation initiative goes wrong, but are not a recipe for success.
Association for European Transport