Academic journal article Journal of Transportation Management

Revisiting Logistical Friendliness: Perspectives of International Freight Forwarders

Academic journal article Journal of Transportation Management

Revisiting Logistical Friendliness: Perspectives of International Freight Forwarders

Article excerpt

As the level of cross-border trade continues to expand, so does the prominence and importance of efficient logistics management. Indeed, there is little question that international logistics is more costly and more challenging than domestic logistics. With respect to the former, Rise (1995) has estimated that between 10% and 30% of the costs of international orders are logistics-related. Challenges associated with cross-border logistics include, but are not limited to, longer lead times, increased inventory levels, and unfamiliar and/or inadequate transportation systems.

While it has been suggested (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 1998) "... that logistics may well become the key dimension by which firms distinguish themselves internationally ...", logistical considerations may not assume high priority when companies are making decisions about 1) countries to do business in and 2) the appropriate organizational strategy (e.g., exporting, direct investment) for entering these countries. Previous research by the current authors has suggested that logistical considerations can be incorporated into the country of choice and method of entry decisions by evaluating a country's logistical "friendliness" or "unfriendliness." Briefly, logistical "friendliness" ("unfriendliness") refers (Murphy and Daley, 1994) to the ease (difficulty) of arranging international freight operations to/from a particular country.

Previous empirical research involving both international freight forwarders (IFFs) and smaller businesses revealed that participants could clearly articulate logistically friendly and unfriendly countries. IFFs, for instance, listed (Murphy, Daley, and Dalenberg, 1993a) Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and Holland as particularly friendly countries; China, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil emerged as particularly unfriendly. According to small business managers, Canada, Great Britain, and Hong Kong (Murphy, Daley, and Dalenberg, 1993b) were viewed as the most logistically friendly countries, while Japan, Brazil, and China were the most logistically unfriendly.

Unfortunately, neither the IFF study nor the small business study identified features or attributes of logistical friendliness (unfriendliness). A subsequent research project (Murphy and Daley, 1994) identified a number of overriding themes associated with logistical friendliness, and suggested that many of these themes were non-logistical in nature. Prominent non-logistical themes included "trade relationships", "economic conditions", and "cultural issues."

THE PRESENT STUDY

Our previous research on logistical friendliness, while valuable, is lacking in several respects. First, as pointed out above, the research on the features or attributes of logistical friendliness was conducted separately from that involving the delineation of logistically friendly (unfriendly) countries. In short, the features or attributes of logistical friendliness cannot be linked directly/explicitly with individual countries. Second, the research on the features/attributes of logistical friendliness only investigated logistical friendliness, and not logistical unfriendliness. Is it possible that certain features/attributes are associated with logistical friendliness, while different features/ attributes are associated with logistical unfriendliness?

In an attempt to address these shortcomings, the present paper reports the results of a study involving international freight forwarders (IFFs) designed to learn 1) about logistically friendly and logistically unfriendly countries and 2) the reasons why these countries are viewed as logistically friendly (unfriendly). IFF's appear to be an excellent sampling frame for investigating logistical friendliness (unfriendliness) because they are widely used logistical intermediaries (Lambert, Stock, and Ellram, 1998) that provide numerous functions (e.g., preparing export declarations, determining shipment routings) to facilitate cross-border trade. …

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