Victor Eriksson

Interaction in relationships crucial for efficient and sustainable transports

​Transporting goods between buyers and suppliers is vital, but different actors have different performance interests, creating contradictions and misalignments. In his doctoral thesis, Victor Eriksson explores how transport services are embedded in larger network structures, the interdependencies involved, and the consequences of firms’ organising efforts in obtaining various performance benefits.

​What challenges do you focus on in your research?

"The starting point in my research is that any exchange of industrial goods between a supplier and a buyer of goods necessitates transport. The transport is often performed by a third party who sells this service to either the buyer or supplier of goods. Transport impacts to environment immensely and is a highly discussed topic for firms and governments alike."

"With increased demand and growth of transport in general but freight transport in particular, a transport revolution is needed to reach the agreed goals of, e.g., reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the overall environmental impact regarding transport set by firms and governments. When considering the challenges ahead concerning sustainability in the transport sector, the relationships connecting the actors involved in transport services, directly or indirectly, are essential to understanding structures, processes, and interactions among the actors embedded in networks. For example, changes to the services in one part of the network may drive changes elsewhere in the network. Therefore, it is of prime importance how to organise transport and adjacent activities and resources in networks."

How do you address the problem with your research?

"The exchange of transport services depends on the exchange of goods since the exchange of goods generates demand for transport services. I introduce a construct called the transport service triad. The transport service triad involves three firms that have one of the following four generic roles: the buyer of goods, the supplier of goods, the buyer of transport services, and the supplier of transport services. The transport service triad is used to explore connections among business relationships involved in the exchange of goods and the exchange of transport services. The transport service triad, as it includes three actors, offers a greater explanatory power compared to a single actor’s perspective or a dyadic perspective on the organisation of transport services because such a perspective can capture interdependencies in various dimensions in business relationships, connections between business relationships, and how and why firms and relationships are embedded."

What are the main findings of your research?

"The results show how triads in general, and the transport service triad in particular, are critical units of analysis to understand how business relationships are connected in supply networks. I propose a model for analysing connected relationships and the implications thereof considering the activities, resources, and actors. The results highlight the importance of considering both relational and structural embeddedness and the duality of the transport service triad as an important structure in itself and as a part of the broader network, accentuating interdependencies of activities, resources, and actors."

"This thesis shows that a network-level analysis is imperative to address the organising of transport services and transport performance by focusing on how business relationships within one transport service triad are connected to the other actors in the triad but also these actors’ connections to firms outside the triad and how firms subsequently organise because of those connections. For that reason, the research suggests suppliers and buyers of goods and transport services, transport service providers, and other connected actors to jointly coordinate the transport services efficiency of vehicle maintenance, vehicle utilisation, and road transport."

What do you hope your research will lead to?

"I hope that the results will facilitate further exploration of how firms are connected in networks that may capture network aspects of the transformation to sustainable transport solutions in which different kinds of system descriptions are needed that supplement each other. The results of my research point to that the interaction and exchange of perspectives of firms are crucial when managers strive to both change the way transport is organised and enhance the transport performance of firms. I also hope that my research sparks new thinking about transport as a highly integrated part of networks, thereby moving away from a general idea of considering transport merely as a support function to the exchange of goods."


Text compilation: Daniel Karlsson
 

The thesis defence will be online on Zoom, 24 September 2021 at 13.15, see link on thesis’ page

More about Victor Eriksson

Page manager Published: Mon 20 Sep 2021.