Knowledge acquisition and maritime logistics value : an inter-organisational relationship perspective
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Maritime logistics value (i.e. improving operational efficiency and service effectiveness in maritime logistics) is one of the strategic goals that maritime operators (i.e. port operators, shipping lines and freight forwarders) want to achieve. Due to the lack of a systematic approach towards maritime logistics management, however, existing literature has yet to clearly define what strategic direction should be taken to accomplish such goals. This thesis proposes that a knowledge-based strategy is the most desirable alternative, having diagnosed its effectiveness in creating and sustaining maritime logistics value. The thesis consists of theoretical and empirical sections. The theoretical part reviews the work of maritime logistics and operators within the context of global logistics and strategic management theory (especially, knowledge-based and inter-organisational relationship perspectives). The theoretical review clarifies the strategic objective of maritime operators, and highlights the importance of a knowledge management strategy towards such a business goal. Based on the literature review, the research develops a conceptual framework that shows the positive relationship between knowledge acquisition and maritime logistics value, and the role of social network embeddedness in acquiring knowledge. The empirical work undertaken to examine the conceptual relationship adopts a qualitative approach: an explorative case study and a Delphi survey. The explorative case study utilises an interview method with a semi-structured questionnaire, and two rounds of the Delphi survey are then conducted by collecting data from a panel of experts in the field. The two research methods are applied to the maritime logistics industry in Korea, where the strategic significance of maritime logistics value becomes ever more obvious. The empirical findings indicate that maritime operators acquire useful knowledge through being embedded in social co-operative and co-opetitive networks, and the acquired knowledge helps them to maximise the maritime logistics value. The work presented hereafter provides a meaningful insight for managers, policy makers and academic researchers into the knowledge management strategy and effective administration of a maritime logistics system in the context of interorganisational relationship. However, this thesis has not examined the way to apply the acquired knowledge on an internal basis of an organisation, and focuses solely on a qualitative approach. It is suggested that a quantitative and in-depth discussion on the knowledge-based maritime logistics research within an intra-organisational level be made by linking maritime operators’ strategy with macro-issues in global supply chains.