III. Resilience and adaptability of maritime shipping, ports and supply chains to internal and external shocks

The Concept

Disruptions caused by economic shocks test the resilience and adaptability of shipping, ports, and related supply chains. Unexpected events spanning economic crises, political events, natural disasters, cybersecurity incidents, and health crises challenge the integrity and the well-functioning of shipping, ports, and terminals and multiply the risks across extended supply chains. The disruptions caused by either external or internal shocks put pressure on the integrity of global supply chains and challenge the efforts made to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of supply chains and the flow of goods.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one example of such crises. The spread of infections globally has created an array of challenges for the maritime industries and the supply chains they support. While many of these challenges have already been addressed, others are still present and will likely persist. The impact of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak is yet to be fathomed. However, neither the consequences nor the adaptive capacities of shipping, ports, and supply chains have been homogeneous.

The coronavirus crisis is also a reminder that each crisis has distinctive features and, consequently, impacts and responses. While COVID-19 has been an external shock of global scale that rapidly impacted all elements of maritime supply chains, a previous shock of a similar scale, the 2008/2009 financial crisis, was an internal shock caused by a misallocation of capital and investments that led to massive cross-defaults when assets were repriced. A variety of shocks and disruptions, such as the Kobe earthquake of 1995, the Hanjin bankruptcy of 2016, tsunamis or hurricanes (Hurricane Katrina, 2005; Harricune Sandy, 2012), port labour disputes, and Brexit, have challenged the resilience of the maritime industry and generated the need for respective adaptations.

Shipping, ports, and actors along the supply chain demonstrate various capacities to adapt to each of these shocks. These capacities might reflect the variance of risks imposed in each industry, as well as the differing capabilities of actors to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats affecting and disrupting maritime networks. Such differences might result from diverse strategies, policies, governance practices, or only different approaches to functional/operating parameters.

The special issue is expected to advance theoretical and practical knowledge on the resilience and adaptability of shipping, ports, and supply chains to internal and external shocks. We invite research that improves our understanding of the levels, types, forms, and variations of risks, the resilience, and adaptability of each inter-related industry and the entire maritime transport system, as well as the causes of any observed variations. 


We invite contributions to an IAME 2021 Special Session that will follow a broad perspective focusing on the impacts of all types of internal and external shocks on maritime shipping, ports, and supply chains rather than strictly seeking to develop knowledge about the effects and responses of maritime industries to the COVID-19 pandemic. To be more precise, contributions that analyze the impacts of natural, political, health, financial, or any other type of shocks are welcome. In particular, we invite contributions examining the following issues:

  • A typology of shocks and disruptions, such as economic crises, natural disasters, and geopolitical events.
  • The impacts of specific types of shocks on global supply chains; operational aspects, market structure, and strategic behaviour of shipping lines and terminal operators;
  • The impacts of different types of shocks on port-related activities; 
  • Events that triggered long-term structural changes for the maritime shipping, ports, and logistics;
  • New disruptive risks linked with port digitization and automation, such as cybersecurity.
  • The evolution of the adaptive capacity and resilience of ports, terminal operators, and carriers;
  • The measures, tools, and initiatives that are available for the adaptive capacity of ports, terminal operators, and carriers;
  • Τhe underlying drivers of differences in the impacts of shocks across market segments (e.g., container, bulk, reefer, tanker), between domestic and international transport, or between industries (e.g., shipping, ports, terminal operators, supply chain actors);
  • Changes in the strategic behaviour of the market players involved;
  • Lessons learned by the reactions during and in the aftermath of economic shocks;
  • The economics of disruptions and building resilience of maritime industries.

The above list is indicative and non-exhaustive. Quality research on related matters will also be considered for publication as long as the common theme remains disruption and resilience.

An IAME 2021 Special Session leading to a thematic MEL issue

The special IAME 2021 session on "Resilience and Adaptability of shipping, ports, and supply chains' is expected to advance discussions and stimulate research leading to contribute to a special issue of the IAME associated scholarly journal Maritime Economics & Logistics (MEL).  Submitted papers that have not have been previously published nor under consideration for publication elsewhere will be considered for publication, subject to a  peer-review process.


Dr. Theo Notteboom 

University of Antwerp


Dr. Athanasios Pallis 

University of the Aegean


Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue 

Hofstra University