Transport service triads in supply networks
Doctoral thesis, 2021

This doctoral thesis deals with the embeddedness of transport services in supply networks. The exchange of transport services depends on the exchange of goods since exchange of goods generates demand for transport services. The transport service triad is introduced to explore connections among business relationships involved in the exchange of goods and in the exchange of transport services. The transport service triad involves three firms and four generic roles: the buyer of goods, the supplier of goods, the buyer of transport services, and the supplier of transport services.

The theoretical framework takes point of departure in the industrial network approach and in the literature on triads. The industrial network approach highlights three interrelated network layers – activities, resources, and actors – and is used to capture interdependencies in supply networks. The triad is the smallest unit of analysis to analyse connectedness among business relationships. The triad is used to explore embeddedness in and of triads. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to explore embeddedness in and of transport service triads in supply networks.

A qualitative case study approach is used to explore how firms organise and manage interdependencies related to transport services in supply networks and implications of connectedness between business relationships. The empirical data stem from actors involved in transport service triads and adjacent actors relating to the transport service triad. The thesis builds on five appended papers.

This thesis shows how triads in general, and the transport service triad in particular, are critical units of analysis to understand how business relationships are connected in supply networks. In addition, this thesis highlights various types of embeddedness. This thesis adds to our knowledge of (1) triads in supply networks, (2) the intricacies of a supply network context leaping from dyads to triads to the broader network, (3) how firms organise transport services and handle the interdependencies that exist in supply networks, (4) the implications of connected business relationships, and (5) consequences on transport performance.



supply chain








Vasa B // Zoom (password: 862062)
Opponent: Prof. Virpi Havila, Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden


Victor Eriksson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Supply and Operations Management

The transport service triad: a key unit of analysis

Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing,; Vol. 34(2019)p. 253-266

Journal article

Eriksson, V. (2021), “Triads in supply networks: A review and research agenda”.

Improving transport performance in supply networks: effects of (non)overlapping network horizons

Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing,; Vol. 36(2021)p. 1767-1779

Journal article

Eriksson, V., Dubois, A., and Hulthén, K. (2021), “Transport activities in supply chains: Analysing network embeddedness”.

Eriksson, V., and Sundquist, V. (2021), “Organising construction transport in dense cities”.

Minimizing impact of construction material flows in cities: Innovative Co-Creation (MIMIC)

VINNOVA (2018-02499), 2018-11-01 -- 2021-11-01.

Energy efficient freight – methods, actions and evaluation tools in logistics

Swedish Energy Agency (41195-1), 2015-12-01 -- 2017-11-30.

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Transport Systems and Logistics

Business Administration



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 5013



Vasa B // Zoom (password: 862062)


Opponent: Prof. Virpi Havila, Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden

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