Supply‐side strategic flexibility capabilities in container liner shipping

Robert Mason (Logistics and Operations Management, Transport and Shipping Research Group, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff, UK)
Rawindaran Nair (Logistics and Operations Management, Transport and Shipping Research Group, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff, UK)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Publication date: 17 May 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which supply side flexibility tactics are deployed by operators in the container liner shipping sector in 2009/200 to restrict supply in a market which is characterised by over‐supply (as well as under demand).

Design/methodology/approach

Taking a case study approach using the Far East‐Europe trade lane, secondary data are reviewed for each type of internal flexibility capability. This is supplemented by a qualitative Delphi‐based research method so that findings are iteratively verified with leading practitioner personnel.

Findings

In 2009, directly after the severe imbalance between demand and supply emerged, liner shipping providing companies were only partially able to exploit the flexibility tactics that were available to them. This improved in 2010 and contributed to an upturn in performance.

Research limitations/implications

Ocean freight logistics provides a vital foundation for contemporary international commerce. However, the viable provision of this service has become significantly more challenging and this research examines why this is the case and what supply side responses are being deployed. Taking a case study approach focussing on 2009/2010 restricts the generalisability of the research that could now be examined on a longer time scale across the whole sector.

Originality/value

This research is novel as there has been no previous research which has looked at the deployment of supply side flexibility tactics in the container liner shipping sector. The findings have considerable bearing on how the industry is run and understood by its providers, customers and regulators.

Keywords

Citation

Mason, R. and Nair, R. (2013), "Supply‐side strategic flexibility capabilities in container liner shipping", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 22-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-05-2013-0053

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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