Improving Port’s Efficiency and Global Competitiveness

This project represents a program of research, under the Global Logistics and Maritime Studies Group (GLAM), that aims to develop modelling tools and management frameworks to enable ports to enhance operational efficiency, workforce productivity and environmental sustainability through optimal use of their resources to provide cost-effective, safe and high quality services, thereby strengthening their global competitive positions.

Research Problem

The project aims to establish a multi-topic HDR research program to explore a number of important challenges for the ports industry in Australia and internationally. Specifically, it addresses the following three research problems:

  1. Ports have undergone significant changes in recent years in view of contemporary developments in terms of global supply chain integration and sustainable development. Ports are increasingly seen as a vital player and can make or break global supply chains through their efficiency and competitiveness. At the same time, ports are also internally and externally driven to examine and implement operational and management practices for sustainable development. This project therefore aims to explore and develop management frameworks which shall enhance supply chain-centric port sustainable competitiveness both in Australia and overseas.
  2. Ports have been evolving along with developments in the business environment such as changes in customer demand, ship and cargo demographic characteristics and technological advancements. In this respect, the recently emerging applications of the 4th industrial revolution, in terms of Internet of Thing (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, may have profound an impact on ports in that they can be game changers for port operations and management. Specifically, ports have been at the forefront of the adoption of advanced technologies and operating systems. This has had a big impact on the nature of the organisation of the port and its performance, including the structure of its workforce and overall organisational competitiveness. In this project we seek to examine such impacts on various aspects of port operations and management e.g. operational efficiency, safety and security, industrial relations, service quality, and overall competitiveness.
  3. In recent years, port privatisation seems a major objective of government. This is exemplified by the leasing out of some of Australia’s key ports including, Port Botany and Kembla leased to the New South Wales Ports Consortium for 99 years in 2013, the port of Darwin leased to Landbridge for 99 years in 2016; the Port of Melbourne leased to the Lonsdale Consortium for 50 years in 2017, and the planned lease of the port of Newcastle. Against this background, this project will examine the key motivations, the potential challenges and implications for Australia’s international trade logistics and the cost implications for the port’s end-users.

Proposed Output

This project will generate innovative logistics solutions to optimise use of finite resources to provide cost-effective, safe and high quality services. The outputs will be in the form of a toolkit, or management framework to help ascertain a port’s market potential, optimise information and physical flows within a terminal, business simulation of port operations and cargo movement, and safety improvement and operational training frameworks for port personnel.

This project is aligned to the research priority of the Global Business Innovation ECP that will generate innovative supply chain and optimisation models/tools to enhance Organisational transformation and innovation capabilities.

Proposed postgraduate research program

  • School: School of Business IT and Logistics
  • Course name: DR202
  • Program name: PhD (Supply Chain Management)

Value and duration

A stipend of $32,000 per year over the duration of three years.

Number of scholarships available



To be considered for scholarship you must hold, or be currently completing either:

  • Master by research 
  • Master by coursework with a significant research component graded as high distinction, or equivalent 
  • Honours degree achieving first class honours 
  • 4 year bachelor degree achieving a GPA of 4 or equivalent (80% or above). 

If you do not hold one of the above qualifications you will only be considered for scholarship if you have previous peer reviewed publications or significant research experience. 

Please make sure that you check the individual eligibility requirements of these scholarships prior to submitting your application. 

It is also important to note that the scholarship rounds are highly competitive and satisfying the eligibility requirements does not guarantee a successful outcome. When a scholarship round closes all applications are received are ranked in order of merit. This process takes five to six weeks to complete. Applicants are typically advised of the outcome of a scholarship round five to six weeks after the round closes for applications.

How to apply

How to apply: International applicants need to apply for admission via  and ensure that there is an offer in place before submitting a scholarship application via the Graduate Research Scholarship application form. Domestic applicants can continue to apply for both admission and scholarship via this Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Admission and Scholarship Application Form (PDF). Domestic applicants who already hold an offer of admission from RMIT for a PhD or Masters by Research program but have not enrolled may apply for a scholarship using the Graduate Research Scholarship application form.

Open date

Applications are open until 4 May 2018. International applicants must have an offer of place prior to applying for a scholarship and are encouraged to submit an admission application by 27 April 2018.

Terms and conditions

See the research scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 327KB) for more information.


Associate Professor Victor Gekara

Dr Vinh Thai

Professor Prem Chhetri

Associate Professor Babak Abbasi