Project: The Importance of Transport in Business' Location Decisions - Scoping Study

Reference: UG494

Last update: 29/06/2005 11:39:15


The primary objectives of this scoping study are to;

1. summarise recent literature looking at why firms locate in an area/region to provide the context from which the discussion of how businesses decide to locate in an area is based;
2. undertake a comprehensive analysis and synopsis of the current research base regarding the extent to which transport is considered within business location decisions and how these decisions are made;
3. identify areas where our understanding needs building up;
4. prioritise the knowledge gaps and discuss the degree to which future research would usefully feed into subsequent policy development and analysis.;
5. assess and compare different methodologies that would fill identified research gaps as to be able to define and recommend clear and robust methodologies for future research in this area;
6. assess the feasibility, time and cost implications of any recommended future research and methodologies needed to complete the evidence-base


Responses to the consultation on the draft Integrated Transport Research Strategy highlighted the need to examine the issues considered by businesses in choosing where they locate or re-locate and in particular the significance and importance to which transport is a factor within that decision-making process. This scoping study and literature review is aimed to achieve this.

The review pulls together the evidence already available about the factors which influence these decisions, the extent to which transport is a consideration within these decisions and the impacts of these decisions on the travel patterns of its customers and its staff, as well as its own operational considerations. The study therefore consolidates our current level of understanding of the impact of transport in businesses' locational decision-making processes. This is in order to assist the Department to develop a meaningful, well-focussed programme, minimising the burden of research surveys on business respondents.


Transport Research Institute
Napier University, Redwood House, Edinburgh, EH10 5BR
+44 (0)131 455 5140

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £20,595.74

Actual start date: 15 November 2002

Actual completion date: 30 September 2003


The Importance of Transport in Business' Location Decisions
Author: Professor Ronald W. McQuaid, Malcolm Greig, Professor Austin Smyth and James Cooper. Napier University
Publication date: 30/01/2004
Source: DfT
More information:

Summary of results

  1. The main findings of the review include:
    - Transport costs are not a primary business location driver - either on an international scale, or more nationally - and
    - as a general rule, transport is only an important factor once the decision to locate in an area has been taken.
    - The reliability and connectivity of the transport system is a key concern, and that;
    - current and expected levels of services (e.g. the quality, reliability, time, the width of the supplier/customer market and financial costs of journeys using it etc.) are a crucial component in the actual location decisions themselves.
    - A key conclusion is that logistics is becoming increasingly outsourced and is a rapidly changing sector. This has potentially a large effect on how transport is perceived and utilised. This is an area not currently well understood.