3.1. Problem Description
Our research revealed the social and economic impacts, changes and trends which can be observed in the Hungarian and international business environment. In addition, strategic factor correlation was established between trust, success and flexibility (trust, as in the examination of the fundamental factor of relationships within and between enterprises, while looking at the role of the manager in creating a trustful atmosphere). When formulating our hypotheses, it was important to consider the key success factors which develop management (trust, success and flexibility), as well as their impact and correlation on the competitiveness of LSP. Specifically, our study addressed three hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1. The trust level of LSP within the enterprise influences the revenue and earnings before tax.
Hypothesis 2. The internal trust level established by an LSP influences the flexibility of the examined logistics enterprises.
Hypothesis 3. The trust level of the business environment created by the head manager of logistics enterprises influences the revenue and earnings before tax, as well as the flexibility of the examined enterprises.
Hypothesis 3 examines the extent Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 2 can be extended beyond the boundary of the firm and the trust level of the company’s external relationships in the light of the three success factors (revenue, pre-tax profit, flexibility). An analysis of the basic data processed during the research can be carried out both on the relationship between the two financial indicators, as well as in the context of flexibility. This was made possible by the reliability of the data extracted from the sample available, so that the expansion of the first and second hypotheses in terms of their relationship and content could be realized in setting up Hypothesis 3.
3.2. Description of the Questionnaire and the Applied Statistical Methods
A list of around 300 Hungarian LSPs was compiled from information provided by the professional organizations contacted by us before starting the research, as well as official sources which can be accessed in the trade press. From this list, the target group was selected including enterprises with revenue (net sales) of at least EUR 100 thousand but not higher than EUR 100 million per year. This group consists of 284 LSP enterprises (Figure 2
The list of target group companies was collected from the HBI database (www.hbi.hu
), followed by the Világgazdaság Logistics TOP 100, the Navigator Fuvarozó (Carriers) TOP 100, the Navigator Speditőr (Deliverer) TOP 100, the members of the Association of Hungarian Shipping and Logistics Providers, the member companies of the Association of Hungarian Logistics Service Centers, the member companies of the Hungarian Road Transport Association and the members of the International Carriers’ Industrial Body (Figure 3
). Duplications have been filtered out. The financial data has been provided by Bisnode Magyarország Kft.
Thirteen per cent of the interviewed LSP were established in 1990, when several entrepreneurs decided to set up their own companies due to the political and economic restructuring. 36 of 56 enterprises examined were founded with international road transport activity. More than 50% of the examined LSPs were engaged in domestic road and international road transport of goods or road forwarding services directly after their establishment.
The geographical distribution was drawn up to illustrate the basic and sample population of the research data, showing the regional location of the Hungarian logistics enterprises based on the available data for the purpose of providing geographical representativeness (Figure 4
and Figure 5
). The regional locations categorized into two NUTS 3 counties properly show the ‘identity’ of distributions and verify representativeness.
The final sample contains 51 different companies. The spatial distributions of the companies is presented in Figure 5
Furthermore, neither the sample-based, nor the population-based distribution can be regarded as normal (their parameters differ) but the graphic draft shows that the pointedness of both distributions are similar, bending to the left and stretching to the right (Figure 6
Accordingly, the conclusion can be drawn that the curves of both the examined population and the sample are similar to each other (even though they deviate from the normal curve). F test statistics further verify similarity, since the variance of the two variables can be regarded as similar (F = 2.213; p = 0.138).
During the compilation of the questionnaire, we considered the need to extract the answers to the questions posed by the hypotheses. GfK Hungary Market Research Institute contributed significantly to the structure of the questionnaire, we created the professional content and the possible response forms and types were greatly influenced by the data quality and type that can be managed and expected by the evaluation SPSS software (V22.0, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA). Questionnaires were completed using the Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI) method. The internet-based questionnaire technique provided an effective research background for this target group by allowing respondents to answer questions on delicate corporate issues (financial issues, role of suppliers, etc.) more honestly, as the interviewee’s response was not affected by the presence of the interviewer. In addition, it was an advantage that more precise answers could be given, as the questions were read by the interviewees themselves and they could check the accuracy of their responses. There was no time limit for answering the questions and the respondents were able to look at the precise data and to think about the questions.
A 51-question questionnaire was put together for the target group to confirm or reject our research questions. The first 14 questionnaires were related to the characteristics of the company. The following 30 questions included trust issues (business confidence 1–2, within the industrial sector 3–11, within the company 12–19, membership(s) of organizational bodies 20–23, strategy 24–30). The penultimate part dealt with the service portfolio (1–6), while the last 6 questions asked about the characteristics of the leader of the company. From the questions presented above, we would like to highlight B14 (leadership), which measures the trust level created by the main leader/manager in the business environment and B15 (management style). Two variables were used in the questionnaire to measure the trust level of the business environment established by the head manager (B14—managerial role, B15—managerial style). In question B14, the statements were numbered with Likert scales ranging from 1 to 10, where 1 indicated that the respondent had a minimal role in forming the corporate culture and the atmosphere of trust, while 10 indicated he/she played a dominant role in this process. In question B15, the respondent had to select the company leadership style which was closest to his/her style from seven predefined options (expressions).
The authors of this research pre-tested the questionnaire in ten companies representative of the different environments present in the sampled population. The main objective of this pre-test was to verify the appropriateness of the questionnaire. Hence, this analysis assessed the difficulties faced by the respondent in understanding the questions, in retrieving the required quantitative information and eventual ambiguities in the questions.
The net revenue and earnings before tax of all 51 responding LSPs for the period between 2004 and 2011 were used to examine our research hypotheses. The total revenue of the respondents was 456 million EUR in 2011, a year for which reliable statistical data were available. This value is more than 50% of the cumulated annual revenue of all Hungarian logistics enterprises in 2012. Revenue and profitability is calculated the following way: Revenue: The annual net income from services of the companies examined (income deriving from services, which does not include, for example, income from financial activities). Profitability of the enterprise: the pre-tax profit of the companies under examination divided by the annual net revenue. Profitability of each service: the pre-tax profit of the given service divided by the net revenue generated by the net income from the service provided (method: aggregated relative profitability level derived from expert estimates and data provided by leading professional organizations).
Of the 284 domestic logistics service providers, 56 responded, of which 51 were evaluated. This shows a response rate of almost 20%, which can be regarded as representative when viewed in terms of general beliefs and academic acceptance. Representativeness is further strengthened by the market share of the respondents (50%) and the test results of the general and sample population in terms of their geographical location and distribution. Our sample represents the opinions of big companies of the sector, because of their relatively low response rate and large share of revenue in the industrial sector. At the same time, as shown above, the geographical distribution of the sample corresponded to the distribution of the population. Considering the 20% response rate and the revenue data exceeding 50%, the representativeness of our research can be confirmed.
The data were analyzed with the SPSS 14.0 software using different examination methods (Levene’s test, Analysis of variance, Cramer’s V, Phi, Eta, Eta squared index, Principal Component Analysis). The chi-square test is used to investigate statistical association between variables. This is done primarily by testing the null hypothesis of no association between a set of groups and outcomes for a response. For large values of χ2, this test rejects the null hypothesis in favor of the alternative hypothesis of general association. We use the standard 5% or 0.05 cut-off for defining what is a statistically significant difference. Therefore, an associated p-value < 0.05, means that there is significant evidence of an association between variables. The correlation ratio, η (eta), measures the degree of association between the two variables, the independent variable X (categorical) and the dependent variable Y (scale). The square of the correlation ratio, η2 (eta squared) is the differentiation ratio. It measures the proportion of the variation in Y that is associated with membership of the different groups defined by X. Eta squared measures the proportion of the total variance in a dependent variable that is associated with the membership of different groups defined by an independent variable.