The Power and Centrality of the Transportation and Warehousing Sector within the US Economy: A Longitudinal Exploration Using Social Network Analysis

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Finance and Supply Chain Management

Publication Date

Fall 2012


This article uses archival panel data over two decades and social network analysis (SNA) to address the question of whether logistics and transportation have become more central to the US economy over time. Unlike traditional measures, SNA goes beyond measuring dyadic relationships and incorporates measures of power, like centrality, closeness, and betweenness that traditional measures fail to capture. Secondary data from the Benchmark Use Input-Output Tables compiled every five years by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis are examined in the SNA context. Results demonstrate the value of using SNA over conventional dyadic measures to analyze the extended network, especially with respect to the shift of power and centrality over time. The findings demonstrate that while the overall industrial landscape of the United States has become less centralized over time, transportation and warehousing have become increasingly central to the US economy. Thus, the article demonstrates that over time, logistics and warehousing have not only become more powerful, but have gone from being peripheral activities to being increasingly central and important in the larger economy. The article contrasts our findings from the SNA approach with those obtained from conventional (non-SNA-based approaches) and highlights the differences in the two approaches.


This article was originally published in Transportation Journal. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Transportation Journal


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