Keywords: system dynamics, infrastructure, investments, seaports
The constant growth of containerized traffic in the ports of the Mediterranean Sea has led many local administrations to recast their development plans on seaports infrastructures in order to best meet market demand. Among the reasons that justify investments in port sector, higher seaport efficiency incentives the economic development of the area where the infrastructure is located generating important social benefits, such as higher employment and growth of the local gross domestic product. Thus, the result of seaports investments should be measured taking into account their direct and indirect impact on economic and social system at local level. However, it is difficult to estimate this impact since seaport investments involve a very large number of economic actors playing in a highly interconnected environment. The aim of the paper is an application of a system dynamics model to assess the effects of infrastructure investments on small dimension ports. When evaluating complex systems, this approach better describes the relations among economic players acting directly or indirectly inside the port. In addition, it shows an advantage compared to the more "traditional" methods such as cost-benefit analysis or multi-criteria techniques. This method can be a useful instrument for policy makers.