Journal of Business Economics

, Volume 87, Issue 8, pp 1083–1123 | Cite as

The influences of behavioral biases, barriers and facilitators on the willingness of forwarders’ decision makers to modal shift from unimodal road freight transport to intermodal road–rail freight transport

  • Ralf Elbert
  • Lowis SeikowskyEmail author
Original Paper


The European Commission noticed that “all residual barriers between modes” have to be removed to the effect that intermodal road–rail freight transport is considered as an alternative to unimodal road freight transport. Hence, the identification of facilitators and barriers is crucial to increase the intermodal road–rail transport modal split ratio. However, rational arguments to modal shift from road transport to intermodal road–rail transport might be distorted by behavioral biases as bounded rationality influences the decision making. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to identify how biasing effects in regard to prospect theory influence decision makers’ perception of the facilitators and barriers to modal shift from road transport to intermodal road–rail transport. Firstly, we perform a literature review to examine the facilitators and barriers. Secondly, based on the qualitative data derived from 92 interviews with different freight transport executives in Germany, we test our theory-driven propositions and investigate, systemize and validate how behavioral biases, barriers and facilitators influence the willingness of forwarders’ decision makers to modal shift from road transport to intermodal road–rail transport. The results suggest that the main facilitators to enhance the intermodal share are for example working conditions of truck drivers, environmental constraints and high fuel prices, respectively, low fuel prices act as a barrier. The results further indicate that biasing effects like loss aversion or diminishing sensitivity rather leverage than mitigate decision makers’ perception of both facilitators and barriers implying a decreased proneness and increased rigidness to modal shift from road transport to intermodal road–rail transport.


Intermodal road–rail freight transport Mode choice decision making Prospect theory Behavioral biases 

JEL Classification

L2 L92 R4 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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