Research Output
Drivers for vertical integration in the rail sector: using wagons as “relationship specific assets"
  Purpose – This paper uses a combination of transaction cost economics (TCE), the resource-based view (RBV) and the relational view to analyse vertical integration in the rail sector, through which rail wagons are viewed as “relationship specific assets”.
Design/methodology/approach – The empirical analysis is based on a cross-case comparison of four case studies of intermodal operators in Europe, each exhibiting different levels of collaboration and integration between terminals, operators and sub-contractors.
Findings – Viewing rail wagons as relationship specific assets rather than merely transaction specific (TCE) or firm specific (RBV) demonstrates that wagon ownership is not only a good indicator of the level of vertical cooperation but of the existence of trust and learning within a collaborative environment.
Practical implications – the organisational setup is not derived purely from transaction or resource characteristics, but by the integration of processes through the purchase of assets that will be used to produce a service, with the expected levels of trust and commitment. In this sense, the role of the wagon as a relationship specific asset is a microcosm of the key elements of a successful intermodal transport system.
Originality/value – As one of the key operational aspects of the rail sector is the use of expensive equipment and the relative responsibility for fixed and moveable assets, an analysis of the use of rail wagons as relationship specific assets allows a more dynamic understanding of vertical integration in the rail sector than currently provided by TCE or RBV alone.

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  • Date:

    08 August 2016

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  • Library of Congress:

    TF Railroad engineering and operation

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    385 Railroad transportation


Monios, J., & Bergqvist, R. (2016). Drivers for vertical integration in the rail sector: using wagons as “relationship specific assets". International Journal of Logistics Management, The, 27(2), 533-551.



Railways; business management; econometrics; rail transportation

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