Liner alliances in the globalization era: a strategic tool for Asian container carriers
There has been an increased interest recently in alliances as successors of the large consortia that used to operate in the context of the conference system. Today, having become a common means and term of co-operation in a variety of other industries, alliances are posited as the response of the supply side of liner shipping to important changes on the demand side; alliances have, thus, become predominant in the most important routes for container cargoes. In recent years, however, the list of major container traffic generators and the list of major carriers of containerized cargoes have begun to contain more common entries, generally originating from the Asian region. Asia is, however, a large continent and the entrance of Asian carriers into liner shipping has not been simultaneous; the position, strategies and co-operation strategies of Asian companies have more differences than they share common features. Nevertheless, this paper suggests that alliances are a distinct form of co-operation in liner shipping and the empirical evidence based on a survey in the region supports this hypothesis. The similarity of attitudes of the major Asian container carriers vis a vis alliances is in this way revealing in terms of the range of motivations for participating in the alliance system in a globalized transport environment.