Chinese Geographical Science

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 112–126 | Cite as

International Freight Forwarding Services Network in the Yangtze River Delta, 2005–2015: Patterns and Mechanisms

  • Shuangbo Liang
  • Youhui Cao
  • Wei Wu
  • Jinlong Gao
  • Weichen Liu
  • Weiyang Zhang


This study examined the spatio-temporal trajectories of the international freight forwarding service (IFFS) in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) and explored the driving mechanisms of the service. Based on a bipartite network projection from an IFFS firm-city data source, we mapped three IFFS networks in the YRD in 2005, 2010, and 2015. A range of statistical indicators were used to explore changes in the spatial patterns of the three networks. The underlying influence of marketization, globalization, decentralization, and integration was then explored. It was found that the connections between Shanghai and other nodal cities formed the backbones of these networks. The effects of a city’s administrative level and provincial administrative borders were generally obvious. We found several specific spatial patterns associated with IFFS. For example, the four non-administrative centers of Ningbo, Suzhou, Lianyungang, and Nantong were the most connected cities and played the role of gateway cities. Furthermore, remarkable regional equalities were found regarding a city’s IFFS network provision, with notable examples in the weakly connected areas of northern Jiangsu and southwestern Zhejiang. Finally, an analysis of the driving mechanisms demonstrated that IFFS network changes were highly sensitive to the influences of marketization and globalization, while regional integration played a lesser role in driving changes in IFFS networks.


international freight forwarding service network pattern mechanism headquarters-branch method Yangtze River Delta 


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Copyright information

© Science Press and Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural Ecology, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuangbo Liang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Youhui Cao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jinlong Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Weichen Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Weiyang Zhang
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies & School of Urban and Regional ScienceEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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