Perceptual Differences between Shippers and Motor Carriers regarding the Importance of Carrier Selection Criteria

Article excerpt

Since the mid-1990's, competition in the motor carrier industry has greatly intensified with globalization, NAFTA, and the move toward requiring technological information support systems (Milligan, 1999). Because of this intense competition, even more attention was focused on satisfying shipper preferences. According to Crum and Allen, "shippers are increasingly demanding better quality service from carriers" (Crum and Allen, 1997). An effective marketing strategy will deliver better quality service and result in greater shipper satisfaction. Shipper satisfaction is a function of carriers providing a selection variable mix that best serves shippers. Surprisingly, little has been done to determine the nature of carrier understanding of the most significant carrier selection variables. In fact, previous studies indicate that the carrier choice decision may be regarded by shippers and carriers in a much different manner. Specifically, some shippers and carriers appear to have very different notions of what constitutes satisfactory service by motor carriers.

It is important that the buyer-seller dyad be understood from both the shipper and carrier perspectives. Evans and Southard's 1974 study of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and motor carriers in Oklahoma investigated how both shippers and carriers perceived 28 factors, thought to be important in the selection decision. Respondent evaluations were measured on a five-point scale. Perceptions were then compared by means of t-tests. Evans and Southard found that there were six perceptual differences be-tween shippers and carriers (Evans and Southard, 1974).

Prior to deregulation, only the Evans and Southard study sampled both shippers and carriers and specifically investigated the variables related to the selection of motor carriers. In the 1970's, other empirical studies dealing with carrier selection did not specifically investigate the views of both shippers and motor carriers (Stock, 1976; Jerman et al., 1978 and McGinnis, 1979). In the 1980's, studies had a narrow focus, examining only the shipper perspective of the transportation seller-buyer relationship (Krapfel and Mentzer, 1982; Baker, 1984; Chow and Poist, 1984 and Granzin et al., 1986). The original 1992 study investigated the importance of certain motor carrier selection variables to both shippers and carriers (Premeaux et al., 1992). No other researchers have investigated the importance of motor carrier selection variables to both shippers and carriers since deregulation. This study expands on the original investigation and seeks to provide the information necessary for carriers to better understand the importance of thirty-six motor carrier selection criteria to shippers.

RESEARCH DESIGN

This research attempts to determine the factors The original 1992 study used thirty-five carrier selection criteria that were drawn from that most influence carrier selection and how both carriers and shippers differ in relation to the importance placed on these variables. A systematic sample of traffic managers and motor carrier managers provided the database for this study. The sample of traffic managers was composed of individuals employed by various manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing organizations and was selected from The Official Directory of Industrial and Commercial Traffic Executives. The motor carrier manager sample was drawn from a list of motor freight trucking companies supplied by American Business List.

A mail questionnaire was chosen because of the time necessary to complete the survey and the geographic dispersion of the respondents. Questionnaires were mailed to 2000 shipper traffic managers and 2000 motor carrier managers. Of those queried, 794 shippers and 685 carriers responded. The number of usable questionnaires was 762 and 651, respectively. The usable responses comprised 38.1 percent and 32.5 percent of the survey population, which should provide a reasonably accurate representa-tion of the actual population. …

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