Benchmarking freight transportation corridors and routes with data envelopment analysis (DEA)
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to collectively measure and compare the efficiency of Brazilian and American soybean transport corridors, from farmers to export ports, using the data envelopment analysis (DEA). Design/methodology/approach This paper aims to determine routes from main producing micro-regions to main export ports, specifically using slack-based measure and variables that represent the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental). The choice of variables was guided by literature review and analyzed through the principal component analysis. After the application of the model, the quantitative tiebreaking method of the composite index is applied. Findings The findings are coherent with a global report that compares soybean transportation in both countries (Brazil and USA). Efficient routes and corridors tend to present short distance truck trips and long distance train or barge trips. The efficiency of the inland waterway trips depends on how many barges are used in the same expedition. Routes with more than three modes tend to be inefficient which suggest that there is a limit for multimodality. Originality/value Corridor benchmarking is a rare topic in the literature and previous works normally focus on some specific and limited corridor performance characteristics, such as cost. The main contribution of this research is that it expands the discussion regarding corridor benchmarking and it focuses on efficiency as a whole. The paper also proposes a method that can be applied in different logistics contexts, like expanding the study to different countries. More specifically, this method could be used in infrastructure investments programs.