C. (Camill) Harter MSc

Camill Harter
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
ERIM PhD Candidate
Field: Logistics & Information Systems
Affiliated since 2017

PhD Track Network performance under emergent behaviour in hinterland container shipping: A complex networks perspective

In this PhD project we study complexity and emergent behaviour in port hinterland systems. Hinterland

transport networks exhibit complexity due to growing transport volumes, infrastructural and capacity limitations, a scattered landscape of decision makers, and multiple heterogeneous transport modes. The aim of this research is to explain how emergent behaviour arises from distributed decision making in hinterland transportation, i.e. for a transportation system that today seems barely predictable or explicable, it should be able to derive behaviour patterns that describe how micro-level behaviour affects macro-level behaviour and vice versa. Furthermore, understanding

emergent behaviour is crucial to understand network performance. With the knowledge about how emergent behaviour reacts to individual behaviour, improvement potential of network performancecan be identified.

We follow four steps to approach this goal. First, we assess macro-behaviour and its top-down impact on micro-behaviour. Therefore, we analyze structural properties of the European hinterland and their impact on robustness of operations. Second, we focus on distributed operational decision making in hinterland container transport. Therefore, we investigate the relation between individual adaptive behaviour of decision makers and collective emergent behaviour. Third, we focus on network dynamics and spreading of congestion and try to identify indicators for critical

state transitions from network state time series. In a fourth step, we extend our models by integrating additional network layers (information, financial transactions, business relations) and observe the impact on the results. Innovative technologies are an integral part of each step. We model the impact on network performance induced by novel technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts, and sensor technology. Innovative contribution of this research is threefold. First, the study of emergent behaviour and its link to network performance in multi-modal transportation networks form a relevant scientific contribution for both, the transportation and the complex networks research community. Second, managerial levers are obtained from the knowledge on how the performance of hinterland systems can be inuenced by changing the conditions for distributed decision making through more information or incentives. Third, this knowledge will be used to evaluate the potential of innovative technologies for creating an integrated self-organizing multimodal transport system as part of the Trans-SONIC project (NWO project funding my PhD position).


container shipping, hinterland transport, complex networks, emergent behaviour
Time frame
2017 -


Visiting address

Office: Mandeville Building T07-04
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Postal address

Postbus 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam