Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Service

Committee Director

John R. Lombard

Committee Director

Katrina Miller-Stevens

Committee Member

Erika Marsillac

Committee Member

David Chapman


Seaports are important economic engines serving many metropolitan areas in the United States. Most seaports in the U.S. are public-owned and managed by a set of elected or politically appointed board members. Indeed, this is public governance in action but the field of port governance seems to be focused on the study of operating efficiencies and less concerned with the public governance aspects of seaports.

The term “governance” in a public organization conveys a level of democratic accountability to the citizenry for management of public-owned resources but, until now, studies of seaport governance in the U.S. have not focused on the important elements of public governance. The fields of port governance and public administration will benefit from this research inside of the U.S. and in the global context. This dissertation identifies economic development, environmental stewardship and financial sustainability as common missions amongst U.S. public seaports’ and assesses mission accomplishment.

A content analysis of U.S. public seaports mission statements enabled insight into what seaports claim as their collective purposes for existence. Once the missions were identified, constructs were operationalized to assess how seaports impact local economies and the natural environment as well as reviewing fiscal health. This research finds that on average U.S. public seaports make good on stated missions, but there is room for improvement.