University of Tasmania
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The contribution of intangible resources to the post strategic co-operation success of container lines : perspectives of senior managers in agencies and regional offices

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posted on 2023-05-26, 02:24 authored by Sigera, LCI
Container lines have been the main transport mode linking most markets engaged in global trade. To cater for the growing customer demands, container lines have adopted various approaches such as forming strategic co-operations to achieve rapid growth and providing efficient services through the integration of resources. The spectrum of strategic co-operations among container lines varies from loose-knitted slot charters, liner conferences, shipping alliances, joint services and consortia, through to mergers and acquisitions (M&As). However, these forms of strategic co-operations have not always been able to achieve the intended synergetic growth resulting from the integration of resources. The Resource Based View (RBV) suggests that integrating intangible resources, which are valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable (VRIN), can make a significant contribution to the performance of post strategic co-operations. The objective of this thesis is to investigate the contribution of intangible resources to the post strategic co-operation success of container lines. Therefore, the thesis focuses on the following primary research question (PRQ): PRQ: Does the integration of intangible resources contribute to the post strategic co-operation success of container lines? To further examine PRQ two subsidiary research questions (SRQ1 and SRQ2) are explored. SRQ1: Which intangible resources provide the greatest contribution to the market success of container lines? SRQ2: Do container lines adopt processes to ensure the successful integration of intangible resources when strategic co-operations are being developed? The design used for this study is a two stage methodology enabling both quantative and qualitative research approaches. The two stage approach helps to identify firstly the senior managers‚ÄövÑvº view of the importance of intangible resources and secondly how intangible resources are integrated during strategic co-operations among container lines. The sample consists of 84 senior managers (with a response rate of 51 per cent and thus 47 usable questionnaires) attached to regional offices of leading global container lines and their agents in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. The first stage was conducted via an exploratory mail survey with the objective of investigating senior managers‚ÄövÑvº understanding of intangible resources, importantly, the findings of stage one enabled more probing questions to be developed and identified suitable respondents for the second stage of the research. Due to the need for more qualitative responses, stage two was conducted as in-person interviews, with a greater, focus on (i) the extent that intangible resources were being integrated, (ii) the processes adopted to integrate intangible resources, and (iii) the organisation and economic performance of container lines during post-strategic co-operation. The in-depth in-person interviews achieved 100 per cent response rate with participation of 36 senior managers. The findings of stage one, which addressed SRQ1, revealed that respondents attach a higher importance to intangible resource items such as the reputation of the company, and organisational processes and capabilities. These intangible resources provide major benefits to container lines such as attracting customers and enabling internal functions of container lines including the closely related functions of marketing the services of the container lines. During the stage two in-person interviews, differences were found in how intangible resources were integrated among Limited integrated strategic co-operations (LISCs) (shipping alliances, joint services and consortia) and acquisitions. In LISCs, due to their loosely integrated structure and antitrust laws, sailing schedules have become the only closely integrated intangible resource. Other intangible resources such as organisational processes, capabilities and organisational culture are kept away from the strategic co-operations to gain competitive edge for the individual container lines. The integration of sailing schedules in LISCs has helped the container lines to increase the frequency of services, enter into new trade routes by reducing cost. In acquisitions, apart from sailing schedules intangible resources such as the capabilities and organisational processes of the acquirer container line are adopted by the new entity. The container lines adopted different processes such as organising staff meetings, mixed project teams, joint training sessions, and appointing task teams to integrate these intangible resources in acquisitions. However, colonising of the acquired container line with intangible resources of the acquirer container line and neglecting the important intangible resources of the acquired line has hindered the integration of acquired container line staff to the new entity. Hence, high staff turnover among senior managers was evident in all the acquisitions during the post-acquisition period. This top management turnover, especially in the marketing functions has adversely affected the intended synergetic growth of market share of these acquisitions. Thus, the two stage study helped address both PRQ and SRQ2 by revealing that intangible resources are important to the market success of container lines, and container lines are advised to identify these intangible resources and adopt processes to integrate them when strategic co-operations are being formed.


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