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Business models for shipper-operated intermodal transport solutions

Paper i proceeding
Författare Jonas Flodén
Edith Sorkina
Publicerad i World Conference on Transport Research, WCTR, 2013, 15-18th July
Publiceringsår 2013
Publicerad vid Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Industriell och Finansiell ekonomi & logistik
Språk en
Ämnesord intermodal transport, case study, business model, freight transport, rail
Ämneskategorier Transportteknik och logistik, Företagsekonomi


One of the main difficulties in developing new intermodal road-rail freight transport solutions is finding the right business model, i.e. the set of activities which a firm performs, how it performs them, and when it performs them to earn a profit. Though business models have received limited attention in the existing intermodal research, several authors have pointed out the importance of business models in the intermodal context. Existing intermodal literature discusses several types of different business models that can be seen in practice. The current study takes an in-depth look at The Own-Account Model, where companies with sufficient transport volumes operate their own intermodal transport services. This can be seen as an alternative business model to the more common case, where the intermodal operator or forwarder acts as channel leader. The study explores the strengths and weaknesses of such a business model through two empirical examples. The paper investigates these models by analysing the business model in practice, e.g. which actors are involved, the roles and responsibilities of these actors, how risks are distributed, what the contracts are, etc. Research is conducted using a qualitative approach: multiple case studies. Empirical data is mainly obtained through in-depth semi-structured interviews. Osterwalder’s (2004) framework for business models is applied to analyse the empirical cases and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Own-Account Model. The roles and responsibilities of the actors are described. For the parties to be willing to “invest into” the new intermodal solution, long-term contracts are required. The shipper controls the channel, but has to rely heavily on the transport operators for their expertise and resources. Thus, a long-term partnership is formed between the main actors, separating this model from traditional intermodal transport. The analysis has found that the Own-Account Model can be used to avoid many of the difficulties in setting up a new intermodal solution, such as insuring the base volume of freight or having the overall control over the intermodal chain. Better understanding of this type of business model allows authorities to better support the development of intermodal transport through policy measures. The results obtained also have research implications in improving the understanding of how intermodal transport is performed in practice.

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