Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (8): 1520-1530.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201708014

• Transport Logistics • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Organization network of Chinese container transportation from the perspective of enterprises

Shilin YE1,2(), Youhui CAO1(), Jiawei WANG3, Wei WU1   

  1. 1. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. School of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China
  • Received:2016-09-12 Revised:2017-03-21 Online:2017-08-20 Published:2017-08-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271136, No.41271137


Containerization, which is an important technical innovation in global freight system, has a profound and lasting impact on global trade, regional development, and freight spatial organization. At present, container transportation has become an important carrier of global production factors and commodity flows. Thus, research on the organization network of container transportation has attracted considerable attention from researchers. Literature relevant to this area also continues to grow. In this study, we selected 112 typical container shipping lines and freight forwarders, which are the main organizers of the inter-regional flows of container cargo around the world in the context of market economy. A total of 119 cities, where these shipping lines and freight forwarders are located, are taken as study objects. The hierarchical structure, spatial pattern, network connection, and complexity features of China's container transportation organization network are analyzed based on the theory and research method concerning urban network and complex network. Our study revealed that: (1) Gaps exist in the organizational ability of container transportation in each node-city in China's organization network for container transportation. This network can be divided into four types, namely, national hub city, regional hub city, sub-regional hub city, and local hub city. This network is characterised by a typical pyramidal hierarchical structure. (2) The spatial distribution of the organizational ability of container transportation in China is significantly imbalanced. Significant zonal differences and agglomeration can be observed in the Bohai Rim, the Yangtze River Delta, the south-eastern coastal areas, and the Pearl River Delta. In terms of spatial distribution, the "6+7" spatial structure system, which is composed of six core areas and seven agglomeration areas of the organizational ability, presents the current structure of organization network of container transportation. (3) The linkages between the national hub cities and the regional hub cities are close and extensive, which constitutes the basic framework of linkages network and the main direction of linkages among node-cities. The density of the network linkages in the eastern region is significantly higher than that of the central and western regions. By contrast, network linkages generally tend to expand from the eastern coast area to the central and western regions and from the national hub cities to the local hub cities. (4) The results of complex network analysis show that China's container transportation organization network has strong spatial concentration, connectivity, and spatial organization efficiency. Furthermore, we found that a significant correlation exists between the complexity of the network structure and the container transportation organizational ability of a node city.

Key words: enterprise network, container transportation, organization network, spatial structure, complex network, China