Centre for Transportation Studies

Green Shipping Research

Research pillars

The Green Shipping Project is structured around five research pillars that address strategic nodes of the movement of goods along the maritime supply chain. Collaborative studies aim to generate rich empirical data and in-depth analyses in each of these areas to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the issues and opportunities of green shipping governance. 

Pillar 1: Trade & Logistics Governance

Chair: David Gillen, UBC

Evolving globalization with the rise of emerging economies, shifts towards south-south trade and expanded passage through the Arctic and Panama corridors have direct and significant implications for global maritime shipping. Adjustment strategies at ports and with ship transport include terminal expansion, slow steaming to reduce fuel usage and the rise of more energy efficient, very large vessels. 

While shipping companies seek to capture greater economies of scale with greener shipping, bottlenecks, congestion and idling at ports threaten to cancel environmental gains due to mismatched infrastructure and intermodal capacities. Studies conducted under this research pillar examine how shifts in international trade are occurring and can impact investment and business competitiveness along the maritime supply chain, and the net resulting consequences for governing environmental impacts. 

Pillar 2: Green Port Governance

Co-chairs: Michele Acciaro, Copenhagen Business School; Trevor Heaver, UBC

Ports serve as a critical node in the maritime supply chain. They define and enforce vessel operating rules and are the main point of contact between the industry and the public. Increasingly, ports are adopting green shipping requirements. With rising public concerns around terminal expansion and increased ship traffic as well as additional intermodal rail and truck traffic, ports are also now at the forefront of heated public policy debates. 
Studies within this research pillar include investigations of the drivers, challenges and advantages of green port governance policies and voluntary programs. The research sample includes major global ports selected for leading, and in some cases lagging, practices.

Pillar 3: Innovation Governance

Chair: Leonardo Santiago, Copenhagen Business School

Business innovation is one of the few remaining sources of competitive advantage for firms, particularly in a highly concentrated industry sector such as maritime shipping. Green shipping innovation can be carried out within different dimensions and at multiple levels. The imperative for technological innovation is understood. Less appreciated is the critical importance of business model design and organizational management innovation to long-term competitiveness. 
Studies under this research pillar analyze and compare shipping company business management innovation strategies as well as assess the economic and geopolitical implications of the diffusion of these strategies along the maritime supply chain.

Pillar 4: Stakeholder Governance

Co-chairs: Peter Hall, Simon Fraser University; Michael Dooms, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Maritime shipping has entered the public debate as well as the national and international regulatory spotlight. Given the industry’s historically low profile, there is a disconnect and a misalignment of knowledge and understanding about the role and challenges of shipping, particularly with respect to the sector’s environmental impacts and opportunities for innovation and improvement. The shipping industry faces a critical, sector-wide challenge to proactively identify and engage with its stakeholders in a coordinated manner in order to maintain its social license to operate and grow. 
Studies in this research pillar analyze the network politics and stakeholder management approaches of organizations along the maritime supply chain towards green shipping governance. This includes understanding governments, companies, ports, civil society organizations and communities with respect to their interests, strategies and boundaries of policy authority and responsibility. 

Pillar 5: Value Chain Governance

Co-chairs: Beth DeSombre, Wellesley College; Jette Knudsen, Tufts University

Increasingly, organizations along global supply chains from producers to retail consumers are adopting ambitious sustainability targets. Some are participating in voluntary green shipping programs to implement their objectives. Others are guarding the status quo and failing to act. The trade-offs of who wins and who loses along the supply chain from green shipping initiatives are unclear. Engaging with the growing field of research on sustainable supply chain management, global value chains and the public policy role of private governance, studies within this pillar will address the motivations, benefits and shortfalls of voluntary corporate responsibility, and evaluate the factors shaping an optimal public-private mix of green shipping governance mechanisms.

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