Copyright © 2016 The Korean Association of Shipping and Logistics, Inc. Various levels of private sector involvement such as changes to incentives, capital utilization, flexible finance schemes, and the infrastructure investment has occurred as consequences of port devolution and reform processes. Our investigation uses a basic content analysis across both academic literature and maritime specialized media with research appropriate selected keywords to identify potential conflict within the changing institutional processes. Two major ports, New York/New Jersey (USA) and Santos (Brazil), with different characteristics in institutional background, are studied aiming to identify these conflicts. The results presented offer a contribution that enhances the academic debate and potentially enlightens solution formulation for those active in the port management.