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A comparative study of ports and their hinterlands : factors determining port performance and choice

Feng, Mengying


Mengying Feng


Chandra Lalwani

John, 1968 Mangan

Michael C., 1951 Jackson


As a consequence of globalisation, port performance has become increasingly important for international trade. Different port regions perform differently. The aim of this research is to identify factors that determine port performance and choice in a comparative study between two case ports in Europe and Asia. Specifically, this research aims to examine factor differences between two European and Asian ports‘ contexts; to identify the key factors that drive port performance and choice; to investigate the differences in importance and performance among the factors; to analyse how the importance and performance of factors varies for different ports; to analyse the role a port hinterland plays in port performance and choice; and to illustrate the usefulness of key findings for port stakeholders.

The construct of importance factors is based on the literature. The research methodology was that of mixed methods to collect both qualitative and quantitative data in two port regions (China and UK) and was carried out in two phases. Phase one comprised semi-structured in-depth interviews. Phase two consisted of questionnaire-based surveys to validate the factors influencing port performance. The questionnaire surveys were distributed to port experts from 500 organisations and had a 50.8% response rate. Thematic analysis was used for qualitative data analysis of the data from the interviews. Methods for analysis of the data from the questionnaires included descriptive analysis, factor analysis, t-test, Kruskal-Wallis H test, importance-performance analysis and other statistical validation and significance tests.

The findings of this research suggest that ports wishing to outperform competitors can do so by improving the factors that are of high importance but currently perform poorly. This could also be achieved by improving performances on shipping services, shipping prices, overall logistics cost, logistics services and government support in descending order which is based on factor evaluation in this research. The thesis further analyses this result within the context of urgent, salient and basic factors based on IPA, including explicit & implicit importance. Shipping services and cost have a critical effect on port performance. Differences in port charges are the most significant differences in factor importance at the case ports of the Humber and Xiamen. Government support has the most significant differences in factor performance between the two case ports.

This research is not without limitations. The analysis was restricted to two port regions in China and the UK and data used in this research were mainly generated from interviews and questionnaire surveys, responses to which are to some extent subjective.


Feng, M. (2010). A comparative study of ports and their hinterlands : factors determining port performance and choice. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Jan 1, 2010


Thesis (3.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2010 Feng, Mengying. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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