Spatial, temporal and institutional characteristics of entry strategies in inland container terminals: A comparison between Yangtze River and Rhine River

Dong Yang, Theo Notteboom, Xin Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Recent decades have brought a growing commitment of investors in the (co-)funding and management of inland terminals, particularly container terminals. However, the actors involved, the forms of third-party entry and the emerging partnerships in inland terminals have only been investigated on a fragmented basis in inland port research. To complement existing inland port research on governance, management and spatial development, this paper analyses entry strategies of actors in inland container terminals on the Rhine and Yangtze in terms of their spatial, temporal and institutional characteristics. The unit of analysis in this paper is the inland container terminal, not necessarily the entire inland port (which might have more than one terminal). The entry strategies and the drivers behind these strategies are examined using a conceptual framework focused on five questions, i.e. who, where, when, why and which way. The empirical application is based on a large dataset of all container terminals on the Rhine and Yangtze. Our findings suggest clear differences between the two rivers in terms of the type of operators, the sequence of inland port development and also the major actors shaping the inland terminal landscape. Despite these differences, there is also some level of similarity, including a low presence of international players, the absence of deepsea (landlord) port authorities and observed waves of single acquisition, multiple-site acquisition, and capital entry in the terminals. Government policies, institutional frameworks and the nature of shipping network development are determinants of inland port investment and the entry strategies adopted by relevant actors. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the drivers and contextual environment guiding entry strategies in inland ports and can help policy makers and port operators in inland rivers to assess and benchmark their strategy. The paper adds to existing literature by considering spatiotemporal aspects of terminal ownership and the strategic considerations of and institutional drivers and impediments to the inland terminal strategies of the corresponding actors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102928
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Inland port
  • Port entry strategy
  • Port governance
  • Port system development
  • Terminal operator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • General Environmental Science


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