Wouter Jacobs PhD

Rotterdam Maritime City

Senior Researcher

Email address
+31(0)10 408 1851
Woudestein, T-Building, Room T19-35
Mandeville Building


Wouter Jacobs PhD is the academic director of the Leadership in Commodity Trade and Supply Networks program at Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Wouter initiated and developed this program in close cooperation with industry partners in the Netherlands and Singapore. Wouter is a member of the advisory council of J.P. Morgan Centre for Commodities at the CU Denver business school of the University of Colorado. As senior fellow at the Erasmus Centre for Urban Port and Transport Economics (Erasmus UPT) Wouter focusses on applied research and strategic policy interventions regarding port and urban economics. In addition, Wouter is the academic director at Erasmus University for the Maritime Studies Abroad program of Nanyang Technological University from Singapore. As lecturer, Wouter coordinates the following masters courses:
‘Ports & global logistics: disruptive scenarios’ (12 ECTs) at the Erasmus School of Economics and ‘Commodity trade & supply’ (6 ECT) at the Rotterdam School of Management. 

Wouter holds a MSc in Spatial Planning & Human Geography and a PhD in Management (2007), both from Radboud University, the Netherlands.  

Main research interests

  • Economic Geography and Regional Development
  • Commodity Trade
  • Maritime Business Services
  • Port City Management and Evolution

Recent research projects

  • Expanding Commodity Trade in Rotterdam, Research commissioned by the City of Rotterdam, November 2014-Nov 2015. Role: project leader.
  • Antwerp Maritime City. Een Haalbaarheidsstudie. Research commissioned by the Antwerp Chambers in Commerce, City of Antwerp and Flanders Investment & Trade, Augustus-2014-Jan 2015, Role: principal researcher.
  • Rotterdam and Global Commodity Trading, Research commissioned by the Municipality of Rotterdam, October 2013- May 2014. Role: project leader and principal researcher.
  • Amsterdam Smart Port in Global Trade, Research commissioned by the Port of Amsterdam Authority, December 2011-July 2012. Role: project leader and principal researcher.
  • United We Stand- Research Consortium of Utrecht University, VU University Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam, The Economic Geography of Knowledge-intensive Business Services in the Northwing of the Randstad. Research commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. December 2009-December 2011. Role: principal researcher Utrecht University.
  • Benchmarking Maritime Services Centres, Contribution to the OECD study on ‘Global Ports and Urban Development.’ Research commissioned by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, Paris, April-May, 2011.
  • Demand analysis of advanced maritime services in the port of Rotterdam and policy scan of international maritime centres. Research commissioned by the City Development Corporation of Rotterdam. In collaboration with Erasmus University Rotterdam (RHV Bv). January-May 2011. Role: subcontracted researcher.
  • Contribution to Erasmus University Rotterdam (RHV bv)/ TNO Innovatie & Ruimte, Van Mainport naar Wereldstadhaven. Belang en betekenis van mainports in 2040 voor de Nederlandse economie, Research commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, July-December 2009.
  • The relationship between port and city: the role of advanced producer services. Research commissioned by City Development Corporation of Rotterdam and Port of Rotterdam Authority, May 2007- May 2009. Role: principal researcher.
  • Contribution to Berlage Institute: Seamangeum Archipelago of Innovation. Economic Analysis Report, prepared for the Korean national government, Spring 2008.
  • Contribution to Koppies & Stevens Port Strategy Consultants: ‘Staying one of the Competitive Logistical Hubs in Northeast Asia. Lessons from Rotterdam and Dubai’. Presented at the Conference: "International Forum on National Ocean Strategy. Initiative Korea: Ocean Vision 2016", 14 September 2006 in Seoul, Korea.
  • Contribution to European Spatial Policy Observatory Network (ESPON), ’Governance of Territorial and Urban Policies from EU to Local Level’, project no. 2.3.2., Interim Report on Data & Indicators of Good Governance. October 2004.

Recent Publications

Raimbault, N., Jacobs, W. and F. van Dongen (2015), Port regionalization from a relational perspective. The rise of Venlo as Dutch international logistics hub, Tijdschrift voor de Sociale en Economische Geografie, in press.

Ng, A.K.Y, Ducruet, C., Jacobs, W., Monios, J., Notteboom, T.E., Rodrigue, J.P, Slack, B., Tam, K.Y. and G. Wilmsmeier (2014), Port geography as a sub-discipline of human geography. The changing tides and development, Journal of Transport Geography, Vol 41: 84-96.

Jacobs, W. (2014), Rotterdam and Amsterdam as Trading Places?.In search of the economic-geographical nexus between commodity chains and world cities, Tijdschrift voor de Economische en Sociale Geografie, Vol 105: 4, pp. 483-491.

Li, J.Y., Notteboom, T.E. and W. Jacobs (2014), China in Transition. Institutional change at work in inland waterway transport on Yangtze River, Journal of Transport Geography, in press.

Jacobs, W., Van Rietbergen T., Van Grunsven, L., Atzema, O. and F. Van Dongen (2014), The Impact of Multinational Enterprises (MNE) on Start-ups of Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (KIBS). Empirical Evidence from the Dutch Randstad, Regional Studies, Online First: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2014.932905.

Jacobs, W. and A. Lagendijk (2014), Strategic Coupling as Capacity. How Seaports connect to Global Flows of Containerized Transport, Global Networks, 14 (1), pp 44-62.

Jacobs, W., Koster, H.R. and F. van Oort (2013), Co-agglomeration of knowledge –intensive business services and multi-national enterprises, Journal of Economic Geography, Online First: 8 January: doi:10.1093/jeg/lbs055, pp.1-33.

Notteboom, T.E., De Langen, P. and W. Jacobs (2013), Institutional Plasticity and Path Dependence in Seaports. Interactions between Institutions, Port Governance Reform and Port Authority Routines, Journal of Transport Geography, pp 26-35.

Hein, C, Hall, P.V., Jacobs, W. and A. Wiese (2013), Conference Report: Port Cityscapes. Dynamic Perspectives on the Port-City-Waterfront Interface, Town Planning Review 84 (5), pp 805-810.

Jacobs, W. and B. Kuipers (2012), The Regulation of the Global Transport Industry. An Institutional account, In: Van den Bergh, R. J and A. Pacces (eds.), Regulation and Economics. Vol.9: Encyclopedia on Law and Economics. 2nd Edition (781 pages), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp.495-526.

Hall, P.V. and W. Jacobs (2012), Why are maritime ports (still) urban and why should policymakers care?, Maritime Policy & Management 39: 2, p189-206.

Jacobs, W., Pegler, L., Reis, M., and. H. Perreira (2012), Amazon shipping, commodity flows and urban economic development. The case of Belém and Manaus, In: Hall, P.V. and M. Hesse (eds), Cities, Regions and Flows (265 pages), London: Routledge, pp 129-148.

Van Grunsven, L., Jacobs, W., Atzema, O. and T. Van Rietbergen (2012), Strategic coupling between multinational subsidiaries and KIBS as mode of regional industrial transition, In: Fromhold-Eisebith, M. and M, Fuchs (eds), Industrial Transition. New Patterns of Production, Work, and Innovativeness in Global-Local Spaces (245 pages), Farnham: Ashgate, pp.117-134.

Van Tuijl, E., Carvalho, L. Van Winden, W. and W. Jacobs (2012), Multi-national knowledge strategies, policy and the upgrading process of regions: Revisiting the automotive industry in Ostrava and Shanghai, European Planning Studies 20 (10), p. 1627-1647.

Jacobs, W. and T.E. Notteboom (2011), An evolutionary perspective on regional port systems: the role of windows of opportunity in shaping seaport competition, Environment & Planning A, 43 (7): 1674-1692.

Jacobs, W., Koster, H. and P.V. Hall (2011), The location and global network structure of maritime advanced producer services, Urban Studies, 48: 2449-2669.

Hall, P.V., Jacobs, W. and H. Koster (2011), Port, Corridor, Gateway and Chain. Exploring the geography of advanced maritime producer services, In: Hall, P.V., McCalla, R., Comtois, C. and B. Slack (eds), Integrating Seaports and Trade Corridors, p. 81-100, Farnham- Burlington: Ashgate.

Jacobs, W., Ducruet, C. and P.W. De Langen (2010), Integrating world cities into production networks. The case of port-cities, Global Networks 10 (1): 92-113.

Hall, P.V. and W. Jacobs (2010), Shifting Proximities: the maritime ports sector in era of global supply chains, Regional Studies, 44 (9): 1103-1115.

Jacobs, W. (2009), World Port City Networks. Exploring the geography of advanced producer services in the global shipping industry, Rotterdam: Erasmus University.

Hall, P.V. and W. Jacobs (2009), Ports in Proximity, Proximity in Ports, Towards an Typology, In: Notteboom, T.E., Ducruet, C. De Langen, P. (eds), Ports in Proximity: Competition and Coordination among Adjacent Seaports, p. 29-40, Alderschot: Ashgate.

Jacobs, W. & P.V. Hall (2007), What conditions the supply chain strategies of ports? The case of Dubai, GeoJournal, 68, p. 327-342.

Jacobs, W. (2007), Political Economy of Port Competition. Institutional Analyses of Rotterdam, Southern California and Dubai, Phd-Thesis, Nijmegen: Academic Press Europe.

Jacobs, W. (2007), Port Competition between Los Angeles and Long Beach. An Institutional Analysis, Tijdschrift voor de Economische en Sociale Geografie, 98, p. 360-372.

Buitelaar, E. , Lagendijk, A. & W. Jacobs (2007), A Theory of Institutional Change; Illustrated by Dutch land policy and Dutch City-regions, Environment & Planning A, 39, p. 891-908.

Other professional publications:

Jacobs, W. and T. van Bergen (2014), Understanding the economic geography of commodity trade, Port Technology International 61, February 2014.

Jacobs, W. and L. Pegler (2012), Manaus. Metropolis van het Regenwoud [Manaus. Metropolis of the Rainforest], Geografie 6: 29-31.

Pol, P.M.J., Jacobs, W. and R. Veerkamp (2011), Rotterdam Central District, In: Terin, J-J. (ed.), Gares et Dynamiques Urbanes. Les Enjeux de la Grande Vitesse, p. 106-121, Parantheses: GIP/Aigpua.

Van den Berg, L., Nijdam, M., Jacobs, W. and E. van Tuijl (2010), Sustainable development of cities. What can leader firms do? Rotterdam: Euricur/ Erasmus University.

Jacobs, W. (2008), Rotterdam: World Port City!, In: Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Rotterdam, Economische Verkenning Rotterdam 2008. Kwaliteit van Werken. Kwaliteit van de Economie, Rotterdam p. 118-119.

Jacobs, W. & H. Stevens (2008), De havens van Rotterdam en Amsterdam in groter verband [the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam in global context], In: Heijveld, W. and R. Daalder (eds). Havens van Amsterdam en Rotterdam sinds 1870, Jaarboek van Maritiem Museum Rotterdam en Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum, Walburg Pers: Amsterdam.

Jacobs, W. & P.M.J. Pol (2008), Rotterdam Central District, Stedebouw & Ruimtelijke Ordening (S&RO), Den Haag: NIROV

Jacobs, W. (2007), Havens als Handelswaar? [Ports as traded goods?], Economieopinie.nl, December 2007.

Jacobs, W. (2006), Chinese Zeehavens. Draaischijven in de wereldeconomie, [Chinese seaports, hubs of the global economy] Geografie, 9, p. 10-14.

Jacobs, W. (2006), Anti-terreur maatregelen in de internationale zeevaartsector [Anti-terrorist measures in the global maritime shipping industry], JASON-Magazine voor Internationale Betrekkingen, 2, p. 7-9.

Jacobs, W. (2005), Booming Dubai. De olie voorbij [Booming Dubai, beyond the oil], Geografie, 8, p. 22-25.

Jacobs, W. (2004), Property rights, markets and land use planning. The case of developing countries, Urbanistica PVS, 36/37, p.41-44.


- Alderman of Port and Economic Development, Municipality of Rotterdam, Annual Port Network Event, Rotterdam, 1-4-2014, Presentation: Rotterdam en de mondiale handel in grondstoffen [Rotterdam and the global trade in commodities].

- Port Executive Seminar, ITMMA- Antwerp, 9/10 September 2013, Presentation: Maritime Advanced Business Services. Hidden contributors to Port Competitiveness and key spin offs for port cities.

- Royal Dutch Geographical Society (KNAG), Annual Members Meeting, 16-6-2014: Presentation: Ports, Logistics and Commodities. The economic relationships between Brazil and the Netherlands.

- EMAR/ SPLOTT Seminar, IFSTAR- University Paris –Este, Paris, 1-2-2013. Presentation: The Economic Geography of Advanced Maritime Business Services and the implication for strategic (urban) policy.

- Hafencity University Hamburg International Seminar: “Global Gateways, Local Deadends?”,9-11 January 2013, Hamburg, Presentation: Port Cities as Trading Places. Exploring the geography of commodity trade and the movement of freight.

- Airneth International Seminar: The Impact of the Expansion of Dubai International Airport and Emirates on Airline Competition, 7 April 2006, Amsterdam. Presentation: Dubai as Global Hub? Lessons from the Maritime Sector.


- Layaa, J. (2013), The Seaport and International Trade Facilitation in Developing Countries: the case of the seaport of Dar es Salaam, ITMMA/ University of Antwerp, Dissertation 11-3-2013. - Kasilimi, V, (2013), Modelling the Relationship between Terminal Scale and Port Competition, University of Antwerp, Dissertation 11-9-2013
- Fraser, D. (2014), Essays on Southern African Container Port Dynamics, University of Antwerp, Dissertation 22-9-2014
- Li, J.Y. (2014), The Governance and Institutions of Inland Waterway Transport, ITMMA/ University of Antwerp, Dissertation: 15-12-2014.


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