HomeGeographical space and its logistical governance

Geographical space and its logistical governance

La gouvernance logistique des territoires

How the intensification of flows of materials is reshaping spaces and redefining the exercice of political power?

Comment les politiques d’intensification des échanges de biens redessinent les espaces et redistribuent le pouvoir ?

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Published on Friday, October 20, 2017 by Céline Guilleux


The reorganization of flows is transforming geographical spaces by redefining the layouts and hierarchies of places (Savy, 2006) (Mérenne-Schoumaker, 2007). Logistics combines economic processes and their political framework and now appears as a central issue in planning. Whereas research has been able to focus on technical devices or economic choices, the conference invites the participants to highlight logistics as an instrument of geographical governance and a political issue.



The reorganization of flows is transforming geographical spaces by redefining the layouts and hierarchies of places (Savy, 2006) (Mérenne-Schoumaker, 2007). Logistics combines economic processes and their political framework and now appears as a central issue in planning. Whereas research has been able to focus on technical devices or economic choices, the conference invites the participants to highlight logistics as an instrument of geographical governance and a political issue.

In this light, three levels of analysis are favoured which form a system whose geographical interdependencies have to be questioned:

Firstly, the global approach, which involves the major political and economic stakeholders in a geopolitical understanding of circulations and the decisions made by the most significant political powers involved;

Secondly, in a macro-regional approach, the political responses of the competing states and their organization have to be considered;

Thirdly, with regard to metropolitan areas where the major world hubs are linked to the final delivery (Hesse, 2008).

These three geographic components also correspond to three facets of the logistics approach seen by geographers, as a means of competition and domination, as an instrument of planning and as a negotiating issue.

Thematic areas

Corridors and intercontinental hubs: the place of infrastructures and the control over them with regard to global strategies to achieve power

The development of international trade has been accompanied by the emergence of new private and state actors. The transport system has been impacted by changes in the main supply routes for raw materials and access to established but also emerging markets. The intensifying global and regional flows require structural adjustments of transport infrastructure. These flows reveal how societies are integrated into the global economic circuits and the desire and capacity of states to be involved in these movements (Cowen, 2014). The capacity of states to shape the geography of trade in the long- term is fully part of today’s geopolitical reality. The emblematic example is China, with its strategy of opening the new silk roads on land and sea under the slogan "One road, one belt" (Deandreis, 2017). Chinese economic diplomacy, either through the direct construction of infrastructure in Africa or though major investments in Eurasian corridors, ports and airports, shows the political desire of a major world power to control and secure flows. Similar considerations can be made for other states on a more regional scale, like the agreements that bind Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran to opening a transport link between Central Asia and the Indian Ocean or the establishment of the private French group Bolloré in Africa (Debrie, 2014).

We can also think of the enlargement of major shipping channels, in Egypt and Central America, where important projects have been launched. With regard to air freight, the Gulf companies are taking advantage of their central position, their position is very much supported by their respective national states and this follows on from their already demonstrated ambition concerning passenger air transport. Large economic investors, logistics integrators, shipping companies and major groups in logistics activities are the major players in this globalization. These major stakeholders also deserve to be analysed in the same way as Antoine Frémont has done for container shipments that have recently changed because of shifting strategic alliances. Who are the winners, who are the losers? How do states support and even dictate their industrial choices? In which way, can such trends be interpreted as a new balance in political world affairs?

We need to investigate how commercial and political interests are likely to influence each other and what spatial arrangements they create. These factors favour a global approach to geo-economics that Pascal Lorot (2009) defines as "the analysis of economic strategies - in particular commercial strategies aimed at protecting economic activities, to enhance their national companies in mastering key technologies and/or in conquering certain segments of the world market in the production or marketing of a product or a range of sensitive products.” In that sense, it is worth analysing logistical issues in the light of new international relations.

The affirmation of logistics as a planning tool and its spatial issues

States and local public authorities have become aware of the central place of logistics in economic development, even if the incubation period has been long (Savy, 1993). Beyond infrastructure challenges, the ability to secure flows is an argument for efficiency that is today a determining factor for growth and competitiveness. Following the pioneers i.e. the Netherlands and Belgium, every country is developing strategies to improve its logistical performance. The annual World Bank index ranks their efforts by combining material (infrastructure, accessibility, etc.) and organizational factors. It also highlights the range of strategies to be promoted. Comprehensive programs have been launched such as the German project Masterplan Güterverkehr in 2008 or more recently France Logistique 2025. The case of Morocco, with regard to Tangier, emphasizes the central role of logistical equipment in the modernisation of the country. Logistics has undoubtedly become a new paradigm of organisation and planning. On a lower scale, some research has shown geographical indicators of logistical governance (2009). In France, this data will be taken into account for the establishment of the future Regional Schemes. The priority given to the question of logistics, the modalities of structuring these logistical plans is in many respects indicative of the functioning of regional governance. These logistical specialisations are also often substitutes for industrial activities, and they presumably cannot be relocated elsewhere, nevertheless competition clearly tries to bring together investments and providers. It may be necessary here to distinguish between endogenous and exogenous logistics.

As many national and regional governments are attempting to establish comprehensive logistic plans, what vision(s) of planning do they have? What do those plans tell us about the political construction and functioning of the geographical spaces concerned: their economic and political evolution? What is the role of promotion and communication? Is logistical planning capable of balancing or on the contrary strengthening regional inequalities? Are tolls and taxes on freight transport instruments for redistribution and solidarity? What governance should be adopted in order to make it possible to locate infrastructure dedicated to logistics in a specific region? The comparison of objectives and achievement remains, here, a promising field of research.

Proposals for papers

Researchers wishing to present a paper at the conference in Cergy are invited to send their proposals with an abstract (300-500 words) and a communication title and bibliographical references.

  • title
  • authors and affiliations
  • Purpose and relevance of the proposed paper
  • Methodology and data mobilized


  • 1st April 2018: Deadline for submission in French or English:

  • 1st May 2018: Notification of acceptance:.
  • 1st August 2018: Submission of the complete text (30 000 signs maximum):
  • 13th September 2018: Conference.


Contribution proposal and papers are to be sent to Antoine Beyer (Antoine.beyer@u-cergy.fr) and Laurent Gatineau (Laurent.gatineau@u-cergy.fr).

The proceedings of the conference will be published in a book or a special issue of a specialized journal.

Steering Committee

  • Beyer A. (Université Cergy-Pontoise - MRTE)
  • Gatineau L. (Université Cergy-Pontoise - MRTE)
  • Lanneaux M.-A. (Université de Lille – MRTE)

Scientific Committee

  • Bernier X. (Université Paris-Sorbonne- France) Blanquart C. (IFSTTAR – AME -France)
  • Charlier J. (Université de Louvain la Neuve - Belgium) Dablanc L. (IFSTTAR – LVMT - France/Sweden) Debrie J. (Université Paris 1- CRIA- France)
  • Frémont A. (IFSTTAR-France)
  • Guihéry L. (Université Cergy-Pontoise – MRTE - France) Guerrero D. (IFSTTAR – SPLOTT- France)
  • Heinitz F. (Institut Verkehr und Raum der Fachhochschule Erfurt - Germany) Labadi  K.  (ECAM EPMI – Quartz-Lab Cergy-Pontoise - France) Raimbault N. (LISER - Luxembourg)
  • Serry A. (Université du Havre – IDEES - France)
  • Strale M. (Université Libre de Bruxelles, IGEAT – Belgium)
  • Torok A. (Department of Transport Technology and Economics, Budapest University of Technology and Economics - Hungary)
  • Verny J. (Neoma Business School Rouen - Institut logistique pour la Vallée de la Seine)


Deandreis M. (2017), Italian Maritime Economy 4°Rapporto Annuale, Scenari e geomappe di un Mediterraneo nuovo crocevia: l’Italia sulla Via della Seta, Napoli, 220 p..

Cowen D. (2014), The Deadly Life of Logistics. Mapping Violence in Global Trade, University of Minnesota Press, 328 p. Dablanc, L. & Rodrigue, J.-P. (2017) “Urban Freight Distribution: a Global Typology”, in G. Giuliano and S. Hanson (Eds.)

The Geography of Urban Transportation, 4th Edition, New York: The Guilford Press.

Dablanc, L. & Frémont, A. (Dir.) (2015) La métropole logistique. Paris, Armand Colin

Debrie J. (2014), « Hubs portuaires (3). Les stratégies des opérateurs sur la façade ouest-africaine », in Flux, 2014/3 N° 97-98 pp. 110 à 117.

Hesse M. (2008),The city as a terminal: The urban context of logistics and freight transport, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. Livolsi L., Camman C. (2017), La logistique, une affaire d'Etat ? Le Cherche-Midi, 176 p.

Manners-Bell J. (2014), Supply Chain Risk: Understanding Emerging Threats to Global Supply Chains, Kogan Page, London, 248 p.

Merenne-Schoumaker B. (2007), « La localisation des grandes zones logistiques », Bulletin de la Société Géographique de Liège, 49. 31 -40.

Raimbault N. (2014), Gouverner le développement logistique de la métropole : périurbanisation, planification et compétition métropolitaine, le cas du bassin parisien et éclairages étrangers, thèse, Université Paris-Est, 523 p Rodrigue J.-P. (2017), “The governance of intermediacy: The insertion of Panama in the global liner shipping network” in Research in Transportation Business & Management Volume 22, March 2017, 21–26.

Samarcande (2009, La logistique en France : indicateurs territoriaux, DGITM et Pipame, 125 p.

Savy M. (1993), Logistique et territoire : le nouvel espace des transports, RECLUS, Montpellier, 139 p. Savy, M. (2006). Logistique et territoire. Paris : La documentation Française, DIACT, Coll. Travaux 1.

Waters D. (2011), Supply Chain Risk Management: Vulnerability and Resilience in Logistics, Kogan Page, London, 255 p.


  • ZAC des Barbanniers - Avenue Marcel Paul
    Gennevilliers, France (92230)


  • Sunday, April 01, 2018


  • logistique, territoire, géoéconomie, gouvernance, pouvoir


  • Antoine Beyer
    courriel : antoinebeyer [at] u-cergy [dot] fr
  • Laurent Gatineau
    courriel : laurent [dot] gatineau [at] u-cergy [dot] fr

Information source

  • Antoine Beyer
    courriel : antoinebeyer [at] u-cergy [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Geographical space and its logistical governance », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, October 20, 2017, https://calenda.org/418522

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