The impact of Panama Canal expansion on the container-shipping market: a cooperative game theory approach

Qing Liu, William W. Wilson, Meifeng Luo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Complicated relationships and interactions among stakeholders in the international container-shipping market make it difficult to estimate the impact of the market’s structural changes. This article uses cooperative game theory to analyze potential impacts of the Panama Canal (PC) expansion on the evolving competitive–cooperative relationships and the distribution of market power among the supply-chain players in the US container-import market. The hierarchical structure of the ocean shipping industry is captured using bi-level optimization models, with the ocean carrier (OC) acting as the market leader. The result shows that the enlarged ship size passing through the PC will increase the East Coast players’ market power by 32% while hurting the West Coast players by 22%. The subcoalition between the OC and the West Coast players is most likely to form prior to the PC expansion while the subcoalition between the OC and the East Coast players is preferred by the OC after the PC expansion. However, the total profit with competitive subcoalitions is always less than the grand coalition’s profit. The impacts of possible variations in service costs, as well as charges by the PC, the ports, and the railroad after the expansion, are also analyzed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalMaritime Policy and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2016


  • bi-level programming model
  • cooperative game
  • Panama Canal expansion
  • Shapley value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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