Academic journal article Emergence: Complexity and Organization

The Coevolutionary Relation between Dutch Mainport Policies and the Development of the Seaport Rotterdam

Academic journal article Emergence: Complexity and Organization

The Coevolutionary Relation between Dutch Mainport Policies and the Development of the Seaport Rotterdam

Article excerpt

This article approaches the spatial development of the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands from a coevolutionary point of view. We use two main concepts within coevolutionary framework; bounded instability and punctuated equilibrium, to understand the relationship between Dutch spatial policies and actual developments in the port of Rotterdam. We observe that the actual port system is generally more diverse than the public policy that governs it, and that the policy appears to simply follow and codify port developments. This result negates the assumption that spatial developments in the port of Rotterdam are steered and planned through public policy and raises several questions on the role of such policy initiatives.

Introduction

This article approaches the spatial development of the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands from a coevolutionary point of view. We use two main concepts within coevolutionary framework; bounded instability and punctuated equilibrium, to understand the relationship between Dutch spatial policies and actual developments in the port of Rotterdam.

Spatial planning involves the deliberate arrangement of activities to give shape to a space (Healey, 2006; Cars et al., 2002; Hajer & Wagenaar, 2003). The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world (470 persons a square kilometer in 2001). Land is a scarce commodity, especially in the western, most urbanized parts of the country.

Transport (roads, waterways, railways) places significant strain on spatial considerations. With the Netherlands being home to both one of Europe's main airports and Europe's largest seaport, transport is a high priority in any spatial planning effort.

This article focuses specifically on the seaport of Rotterdam, which is one of the main cargo junctions in the world. Its central location in Europe along with the open access it offers to the North Sea makes the port ideal for shipping goods between Europe and the rest of the world.

The port has been growing rapidly since the 1960s. With the port's growth came an urgent need to manage the expansion and the emphasis on planning has moved over the years from being a concern purely of some public actors (ministries and port authority), to one of priority across several public bodies and non-public actors (Healey, 2006; Kickert et al., 1997).

We investigate the planning capacity of Dutch governments in this article, aiming specifically to give meaning to the relationship between public planning and the physical development of the Rotterdam seaport. We use an analytical framework based on the idea of coevolution. This framework is introduced and detailed in the section titled "The coevolutionary framework". The section titled "Association between variables" deals with methodological issues, and the construction of the variables. The next section, "Port System of Rotterdam", provides a brief introduction to the port as well as to the policy system. An understanding of the nature of the relationship between port related policies and actual port developments requires a longitudinal investigation and our investigation goes back 45 years, covering the period from 1960 to 2005. We analyze the relation between port and policy in detail in section "Analyzing the relationship between the port and policy systems", and present the conclusions in the final section.

The coevolutionary framework

Generally speaking, evolution is the process of change that occurs amongst members of a species, populations and systems. Evolutionary changes can sometimes be small, at other times large, either fast or slow. While the word 'evolve' has been used to denote change in any number of contexts, Mulder and Van den Bergh (1999) point out that a distinction should be made between biological evolution and evolution in the social world. A main characteristic of biological evolution is that progress through time happens without any intention on the part of the elements of the system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.