Freight transport decisions are nowadays affected by the impact of the external environment, particularly within commodity markets like the natural rubber industry. Consequently, shipping managers are confronted with uncertain circumstances such as economic changes causing high price volatility, economic crises and emerging new markets. As China becomes the worlds’ largest rubber consumer and has introduced a mixture of rubber buyers to the market, the level of complexity in transportation has now increased substantially. This study considers freight transport mode choice. Despite the fact that mode choice selection is not exactly a new subject, the majority of existing studies conducted have been based only on surveys or secondary data, that have mainly sought to identify an optimized solution or the prioritisation of operational factors such as cost and transit time. The purpose of this study is to investigate factors influencing decision makers when it comes to choosing the transportation alternatives currently available, or that might be used, by natural rubber exporters in Thailand. This research used a preliminarily conceptual framework derived from the combination of the Organisational Buying Behaviour (OBB) model in terms of contextual factors, with relevant literature in relation to operational factors. These include organisation, business environment, individual perceptions and past experience, and operational factors in order to assess primary qualitative data gathered as part of the research fieldwork. This research has adopted a qualitative approach and methodology based on the interpretivist paradigm. The research was conducted using two methods: questionnaires and follow-up semi-structured interviews. To explore the background of the natural rubber industry, identifying its key demographic characteristics and the current situation with regard to freight transport usage, a questionnaire survey was conducted using a sample of 73 shipping managers. Fifty individuals completed and returned the questionnaires. In support of a substantive study, in-depth interviews of the managers of 21 companies were used to investigate what factors influence the selection of transport modes and how they impact on their decisions. The interviewed transcripts were analysed using template analysis. The conceptual model data gave a clearer picture of linkages and relationships between five dimensions: environmental characteristics, organisational characteristics, customer characteristics, transport decision making in the natural rubber industry and operational factors. This model can provide a deeper understanding of freight transport choice decisions in terms of a combination of operational and behavioural factors. The developed model also enhances the power of explanation of those various factors feeding into the decisions of freight transport mode choice and will be disseminated to shipping managers within the commodity market sector.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 1 Jul 2016|