D’Agostini, Enrico, Sohyun Jo, Hyung-Sik Nam, & Young Soo Kim (2022, January). Q-method and its application in clustering Hong Kong shippers’ selection criteria of ocean carriers. Research in Transportation Business & Management, art. 100785. (ePub in advance of print) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rtbm.2022.100785)

Abstract: Despite recent geopolitical tensions across nations, the liner shipping industry still plays a pivotal role in supporting international trade by ensuring low-cost transportation services. However, given the increased intensity of mergers and acquisitions, the formation of new shipping alliances and general perception of the commoditisation of ocean carriers pose numerous risks in how shipping line operations interact with shippers’ needs. Previous research has identified several factors regarding ocean carrier selection criteria from the shippers’ perspective, mainly focusing on regional markets. Nonetheless, knowledge of how shippers address these factors is limited. In this study, through a mix of qualitative and quantitative analyses, Q-methodology is applied to investigate shippers’ choice behaviour regarding ocean carriers in Hong Kong. The results of our analysis show the emergence of three unique clusters of shippers with different needs when considering the ocean carrier selection process. The three clusters are ‘reliability and flexibility of service achiever’, ‘long-term shipper-carrier relationship builder’, and ‘customer service and cost-saving seeker’. These findings may assist in enabling shipping lines to enhance their competitiveness by analysing and selecting the most suitable strategy for serving customers and identifying operational and marketing areas that need to be restructured or strengthened.

Enrico D’agostini <enrico@tu.ac.kr> and Young Soo Kim <marineboy68@tu.ac.kr> are in the Department of International Logistics, Tongmyong University; Sohyun Jo <sea@kmou.ac.kr> is in the Division of Navigation Convergence Studies, and Hyung-Sik Nam <hsnam@kmou.ac.kr> is in the Department of Logistics, Korea Maritime and Ocean University, Busan, Republic of Korea.

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