This paper describes the distinctive characteristics of the service industry linked to ports and shipping. The firms constituting the complex tend to be small and cluster in well-defined spatial agglomerations. The industry as a whole exhibits considerable volatility, with high firm turnover and frequent address changes. Yet it occupies neighbourhoods that have remained stable for many decades. Despite the rapid and extensive changes that have occurred in other urban service sectors and in shipping and cargo handling since the 1960s, few significant effects were felt by the port service industry until the 1980s. This paper argues that the changes presently being felt by the industry are linked most directly to urban redevelopment projects that are transforming neighbourhoods that the port service industry has traditionally occupied. © 1989.
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