By the definition of a port being any location with a harbor that is mainly used by ships to load and unload, material and immaterial factors play a critical role in its development. Most of these factors furthermore give the port a competitive edge over other ports mainly because of the economic benefits that can be generated with a success. Furthermore, there are certain benefits that can be achieved such as job creation and infrastructure development.
There has been an increase in the rivalry between similar ports mainly driven by the increase in trends of containerization and privatization. More so, the privatization is a major reason in competition since private ports tend to be more competitive than public ports. This escalation in competition is the main reason why ports are trying to devise better ways than can set them aside from the rest.
The competitive advantage of a port is mainly driven by the tangible and intangible capital. The immaterial capital of the ports can be identified as human capital, structural capital and investment capital and are generally very difficult to observe and quantify (Ang & Wight, 2009). These intangible capital include the personnel employed, the technology behind the success, the reputation, knowledge, organizational capital etc. According to Barney (1991), the intangible capital is unique to any port and sustain the edge over the competition since these resources cannot be transferred. It is further stated that no other firm or port can imitate the capabilities (Hall, 1992).On the other hand, the material capital refers to the price of the port and the quality of service provided.
The main aim of this essay is to try and explore the immaterial capabilities that give a port a competitive edge in the maritime sector. A case study will be of the port of Tangier Med.
The port has been in operation since 2007 and is located in the city of Tangier, Morocco in deep waters and is strategically located for its operations because it is located on the central trade route between Europe, America, and Africa. It is one of the best ports in the world providing exceptional services but is still under construction (FRS, n.d.).
There should be a properly designed methodology in the analysis of the intangible capital that the port has. This is because immaterial capital are numerous and some cannot be easily quantified. Such capital includes knowledge and some other soft resources.
The choice of the intangible resources of the port
Since the intangible resources of the port are mainly found in the service provision and delivery, their competitive edge has to be quantified. In this context, a review of necessary literature is necessary and some factors are chosen. The first is the human knowledge or the human capital behind the success of the port of tangier med.In this respect, the most important aspects in human resource capital is the labor performance and the customer relation skills such as language instructiveness (Ha, 2003) Furthermore, there are some aspects that also determine the human capital such as qualification and skills, the level of professionalism in the staff, the quality of the labor force, responsiveness by the employees among others. These factors play a big role in giving any port the competitive edge and thus their review is necessary.
Secondly is the determination of the technological capabilities or simply technological capital. This is because the delivery of service by the port has to a great extent been influenced by the knowledge of computers and the technological awareness. These play a crucial role in the quality of port services (Thai, 2015).It is thus good to establish this type of resource such as the technological capabilities, information on ships, information on the accessibility of electronic information etc.
The methodology also has to study the ability of the staff to exercise professionalism and proper behaviors when addressing and responding to the needs of the customers. This has been regarded as a very important aspect in the delivery of services by ports. In meeting the customer requirements, ports should also consider the unique needs of people and the determination of requirements at a personal level (Pantouvakis, et al., 2008).In this respect, it has been emphasized that the level of customer relationships is a pivotal factor in determining the success of the port. An additional note is a relationship between the customer and the employee, customer loyalty and the brand name.
Other intangible materials to be considered are the norms and guidelines and the cultures that surround this port. These factors are simply called the organizational capital of the port. Since there are continued changes in port regulations and customer preferences over time, the ability of the port to regulate and shift its policies can play a vital role in the long run success. It is thus a very important consideration in evaluating any port.
The last, but not least, consideration in the determination of the intangible capital of the port is its ability to constantly meet the rate of industrial shifts and environmental change over time. This is simply referred to as organizational change and is meant to enable the port to cope up with the change in the structure of the industry both in a dynamic and competitive surrounding (Carmeli, 2004). The determination of the port’s ability in structure evaluation and its decision-making capabilities. This is just the evaluation of the other intangible capitals in terms of their coordination and the smoothness in their operation. This evaluation is meant to determine the service quality.
It is thus based on the results that we can conclude most of the concerns regarding the port’s immaterial capital. To begin with, the human capital has been described as very efficient in the development of the port. We first have to observe the labor and the language effectiveness. Considering that the port is located centrally on the trade route between Europe, Africa, and America and within the Arab and Portuguese speaking Morocco, the language barrier was likely to be an impediment to the development. This has been mitigated by the diversity of the hard working human resource. This has further pushed the port to be a focus of private and public investments with a plus being improving the tourism sector. It has even been stated that the Tangier-Med port authority has promoted first class efficiency through the hiring and training of the labor force. This ensures that there are no strikes and labor force related problems per se. This was a major stepping stone to the port which wanted to compete with northern Mediterranean shipping ports (O’brien, 2015).
The management of tangier med port is a major concern for the efficiency of the port. This is because the body that is mandated to manage the port has to oversee the smoothness of operations and to ensure a satisfied labor force.This has been effectively done by the tangier-Med Special Agency (TMSA).the responsibilities of this agency are the management of the port and any related zone either industrial or free. Furthermore, the port is overseen by the Tangier med ports authority contrary to other ports which are controlled by the national ports Authority.
By ensuring that there are specific bodies that monitor and control the activities of the port, there is the efficiency that comes with the labor force.
The technological capability of the port gives it a competitive edge over other similar ports. The aeronautic and automotive capabilities of the port are on the rise enabling transportation and communication to be fast. Furthermore, several establishments mainly dealing with manufacturing have been set up around the port, which has four zones. The competitive advantage arises when the brand name gets recognition. The development seen has been the vast network of suppliers, subcontractors and service providers who continually enrich the port. Further development of the port is expected with the launch of Tangiers automotive city. This will provide the platform for manufacturers, suppliers, logistic operators and other service providers (Oxford business group, 2017).
The port of Tangiers has continually updated its tangible and intangible resources but the main focus of this essay has been the intangible resources. The development associated with the zones associated with the port of Tangiers is as a result of the immaterial capital which mainly comprises the workforce, the structural capital, and the investment capital. The development has led to the setting up of four zones which have different legal and fiscal terms. An efficient immaterial capital is thus a priority for this port. Furthermore, the continuous upgrade and innovation from the skilled workforce ensure that the brand name is maintained ensuring that there is a competitive advantage over similar ports.
The service quality provided by any port is a crucial factor in maintaining any competitive edge. The difficult thing in estimating the immaterial capital is the absence of numerical values and hence the output is the main consideration. It has thus been established that intangible capital has been easily forgotten irrespective of the fact that it plays a crucial role in maintaining the competitive edge of one port over`
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