XXL distribution centres deliver little for the Rotterdam region

Enoch Tabak wins Rotterdam Thesis Prize 2023
Racking with lots of boxes in distributioncentre
Professor van Oort and Abutaleb with prize on stage and Tabak on screen
Alexander Santos Lima

Developing large-scale distribution centres in the port and area of Rotterdam is a contemporary trend. They are often presented as a new economic engine of Europoort, but is this the case? The winner of the Rotterdam Thesis Prize 2023, Enoch Tabak shows in his thesis that the supposed economic boost, such as job growth, is not happening. 

Due to the construction of XXL distribution centres, there is much opposition to the 'verdozing' of the Dutch landscape. The government often issues permits partly based on the supposed economic benefits for the region and port. For his thesis, urban economist Enoh Tabak investigated the extent to which the many newly developed XXL distribution centres fulfil their promise of economic benefits. In his research, Tabak relates alleged positive effects to equally conceivable negative effects of such centres. For example, about the environment, landscape and working conditions. It also critically questions the economic benefits themselves. His analysis concludes that XXL distribution centres' supposed regional economic benefits are not demonstrated.

"The study is, as one of the judges calls it, a 'wake-up call'"

Airial picture of distribution centre

Valuable debunking

Therefore, The thesis calls on local governments to stop offering distribution centre space so actively and enthusiastically, often even at exceptionally favourable conditions. The jury sees this as a valuable and brave empirical debunking of a much-heard argument of economic advantage for policy choices that affect local people. From the jury report: "It is an interesting thesis with good analysis, surprising results and also very clearly written despite the complex research technique."

Martijn van der Steen, jury chairman: "The outcomes of this thesis should be reason for the City of Rotterdam to review its own spatial and economic policy. And to make the surrounding regional municipalities aware of this as well. As one of the jury members puts it, the study is a 'wake-up call' for the future spatial developments of Rotterdam and its surroundings."

Boxes, boom and benefits? - Identifying effects of XXL distribution centres on regional economies in the Netherlands, by Enoch Tabak, alumnus of the master's programme Urban Governance of Inclusive Sustainable Cities (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences in collaboration with IHS). Prof Frank van Oort supervised him.

About Rotterdam Thesis Award 2023

To encourage students to use their academic knowledge for the benefit of Rotterdam, the City of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam have established the Rotterdam Thesis Award. The jury looks at the relevance for Rotterdam and its scientific quality. The prize consists of a certificate, a work of art by a Rotterdam artist and a cash prize of 1500 euro.

In addition to this year's winner, there is an honorable mention for the thesis:

Sex and the City. Changes in the local governmental approach to female sex workers and its consequences for the labour conditions of unlawful working female sex workers in Rotterdam, by Nina Eggens, alumnus of the International Master's in Advanced Research in Criminology (Erasmus School of Law), and supervised by Prof Dr Richard Staring. This is another excellent thesis on a socially highly relevant topic. This thesis looked at how the change in approach to illegal sex work has affected the position of sex workers.

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, communicatie Rotterdam Scriptieprijs, 0683676038, kooistra@essb.eur.nl

Related content
Jamila Robbeson from Erasmus School of Economics has written an innovative and relevant thesis for which she has won the 9th Rotterdam Thesis Award.

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes