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Transport buyers choice of transport service - A literature review of empirical results

Journal article
Authors Jonas Flodén
Fredrik Bärthel
Edith Sorkina
Published in Research in Transportation Business and Management
Volume 23
Issue June
Pages 35-45
ISSN 2210-5395
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Business Administration, Industrial and Financial Management & Logistics
Pages 35-45
Language en
Keywords Transport service choice, modal choice, Europe, Sweden, literature review, mode selection
Subject categories Business Administration, Transport Systems and Logistics


Understanding the reasons behind the choice of transport service is a key issue in understanding the transport market, designing a competitive transport system and, in particular, achieving a shift towards intermodal transport. This paper is a literature review of studies on factors influencing the choice of transport. It focuses on studies concerning European conditions with primary data on decision makers’ selections obtained through interviews and surveys, published in English and Swedish after the year 1990. The review includes the leading academic publications complemented by non-peer reviewed reports. Non-peer reviewed publications are included as a large share of the studies are only published in the grey literature. This paper separates from previous reviews through its focus on studies with primary data and a widened scope to include non-peer reviewed sources. The review finds that the factors behind the choice of transport service can be divided into three levels: 1. Benchmark (Cost), 2. Qualifiers (Quality, Reliability, and Transport Time), and 3. Particularities (Others). Most of the decisions are made based on price (Benchmark) after ensuring that the basic transport quality requirements are met (Qualifiers). Other factors (Particularities) have low importance. Particularly noteworthy is the low importance of the environmental impact. Results from both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications show the same important factors. The research methods used in the studies are also included in the analysis, and it is found that the different methods have similar results.

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