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External economies and strategic cooperation: structural equation modelling with Finnish data

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of relationship-specific investments in creating strategic partnerships and facilitators for external economies in the context of logistics services. The research is based on transaction cost economics and behaviour-oriented theories and a conceptual model is developed and tested with Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) using empirical data from Finnish industrial companies in 2005. The results show that partnerships are positively associated with external economies when the relationship includes relationship-specific investments. The response rate of the survey was 27.4 (N = 161) and all the respondents were from Northern Finland, which may limit the generalisability of the research. As a theoretical conclusion, a model of how relationship-specific investments may produce external economies was found. From a managerial point of view, the study suggests that logistics service providers should consider relationship-specific investments to develop trust to gain external economies and strategic partnerships with shippers.

Keywords: asset specificity, relationship-specific investments, economies of scale, structural equation modelling, SEM, external economies, strategic cooperation, Finland, logistics services, transaction cost economics, behaviour-oriented theories, strategic partnerships

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