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Strategic flexibility capabilities in the container liner shipping sector

Mason, Robert John ORCID: and Nair, Rawindaran Vnp 2010. Strategic flexibility capabilities in the container liner shipping sector. Presented at: 15th International Symposium on Logistics (ISL 2010), Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia, 4-7 July 2010.

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Purpose: This paper reflects on the notion of flexibility from the perspective of the major liner operators in the container shipping sector and asks how flexible strategies can be deployed to maintain the stability of the maritime component in the international supply chain. Flexibility strategies which may be adopted by liner operators to better adapt to the commercial scenario they face are identified (developed from Naim et al’s (2006) typology of transport flexibility). From this foundation the principal flexibility types which may be used to restrict supply capacity by container shipping companies in their attempts to restore a better equilibrium to the market for international container shipping movement are explored. Research approach: The study will use secondary data taken from industry sources to reflect the empirical developments taking place in the sector to address this. Knowledge will also be supplemented by a case study based on a semi-structured interview with the UK Managing Director of a leading shipping logistics company. Findings and Originality: Naim et al’s (2006) typology of definitions for transport flexibility (internal types), are refined in the context of container liner shipping. Contributions include a revised menu of flexibility method/tools for use by container liner shipping operators and three new flexibility types:  Horizontal Inter-organisational Flexibility - the degree to which the use of infrastructure can be coordinated between users (previously this was part of Naim et al’s (2006) Temporal flexibility type)  Mobility Flexibility – the ability to re-deploy a transport asset – for container liner shipping this includes an ability to switch container ships to other shipping lanes  Ownership Flexibility – the ability to utilise outsourced agents to minimise risk of under-utilisation of asset exposure – in shipping this involves the degree to which chartering arrangements can be set up. On examining the flexibility types it is found that although certain flexibility tactics have been deployed, for example, Ownership Flexibility through chartering, Capacity Flexibility via moth-balling and other tactics and Temporal Flexibility by delaying new builds, these largely reactive strategies have not been enough to stabilise the supply side of the market. Research impact: The paper adds to the understanding of flexibility application in transport and logistics with particular reference to the container liner shipping industry. Practical impact: The liner companies lost around $11 billion for 2009. A more refined understanding of how flexibility tactics can be deployed to contain future losses and inform future strategy development is highly relevant to the operators in this sector.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Centre for Advanced Manufacturing Systems At Cardiff (CAMSAC)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Uncontrolled Keywords: Flexibility; Transport Flexibility; Container Liner Shipping; Logistics; Operations management
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2023 02:41

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