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Abstract

This study examines the relationship between motor carrier productivity, marketing strategy, and use of information technology for a sample of U.S. general freight commodity carriers. We use a unique data set containing information on firm marketing strategy and information technology use collected in a survey of Class I and II motor carrier firms (U.S. Department of Transportation, 1999). The measure of productivity used here is the non-parametric Malmquist Index as explained in Grosskopf (1993) and previously applied to general freight motor carriers by McMullen and Okuyama (2000). The Malmquist Index is decomposed into two components: economic efficiency change (EC) and technical efficiency change (TC). A tobit model regression model is used to examine the relationship between firm productivity, marketing strategy, and use of information technology. Information technologies included in the tobit analysis are electronic data interchange (EDI) and satellite communications (SATCOM). We also include firm size, use of owner-operators, and percent unionization as explanatory variables in the tobit regression. Results indicate that use of EDI has a positive and significant impact on economic efficiency (EC). Firms that try to market their product by providing service at the “lowest freight rate” are found to exhibit greater technical efficiency (TC), suggesting that productivity and cost measures that ignore marketing strategy may be biased. Finally, economic efficiency (EC) is found to be significantly greater for firms that are more heavily unionized.

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