Port competitiveness in North East Asia : an integrated fuzzy approach to expert evaluations
Despite the fact that the Northeast Asia (NEA) region, which had four of the top five and 20 of the top 30 container ports in the world in 2003, can be regarded as holding a central position in liner shipping and the handling of container cargo volumes, very little research has been done into the evaluation of its port competitiveness (EPC). For this reason, the EPC in NEA can be regarded as a problematic and urgent issue to be solved, and worthy of academic attention. From this aspect, this research set out to attempt to address the above issue by means of utilizing expert knowledge. However, the EPC contains problems of complex multipleattributes and multiple-hierarchies (CMAMH). In addition, difficulties concerning certain characteristics of evaluation such as complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity are also involved. To deal with such problems, in this research, the employment of integrated fuzzy evaluation (IFE) as a methodology was decided upon. As a result of the adaptation of the methodology, certain indications from this research to the theory and practice for container ports have emerged and are clearly identifiable. With regard to theory, this study has contributed to theoretical development significantly in four ways. First, the factors and taxonomy of port competitiveness for the container ports in NEA have been provided for the first time. Second, this is the first integrated approach for the EPC in NEA, the most competitive area in the world. Third, this research was also the first to attempt extracting critical weak points and/or influential factors affecting current port competitiveness. Finally, the adoption of IFE made it possible for the first time to uncover the interactive relationships between the competing container ports. In terms of practice, this research has also provided certain contributions of utmost importance. First of all, the study has provided a suggestion for the most recent port ranking in respect of port competitiveness. Moreover, changes in competitiveness power, which are dynamically and interactively affected by the relationship between the ports, have been successfully estimated and suggested. Thus, such changes in the competitiveness in NEA can now be easily forecasted by port actors.