Agency decision making in freight distribution chains: Establishing a parsimonious empirical framework from alternative behavioural structures

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, operations - reliability, ridership - commuting, ridership - behaviour, organisation - structures, organisation - management


Variable costs, Transportation industry, Transportation, Transport, Traffic management (Physical distribution), Supply chain management, Shippers, Reliability, Physical distribution, Interactions, Human behavior, Freight transportation, Framework, Empirical, Distribution, Design, Decision making, Cost effectiveness, Contracts, Concessions, Behaviour, Behavior, Agencies


A general framework in which two or more agents negotiate a contractual arrangement to provide distribution services has been presented in literature. In developing a framework to guide the empirical study, recognition of the difficulty in sourcing agent pairs is a major challenge and one that entails some amount of practical compromise. In this paper the authors present a new conceptual framework capable of capturing, through ideas of concession and power, without explicit interaction between agents, the interactive element of choice, and show how the authors implement this to deliver an empirical method that is tractable in terms of securing an adequate sample as well as being cost effective. The authors find that transporters appear to hold strong relative power with respect to on-time reliability and variable charges, regardless of the degree of concession offered by either type of decision maker; whereas shippers' preferences appear to dominate the supply chain response to policy measures influencing transit time. Importantly, both transporters and shippers do have a significant role to play in the formation of distribution chain preferences.


Transportation Research Part B Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01912615