Principal-agent problems in decarbonizing container shipping∶ A panel data analysis

Zoom Research Seminar / 5.OG EE Lecture 2

Large container ship is pulled by tugboat

Past event — 1 September 2021

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Christopher Dirzka

Post-doctoral Researcher

CBS - Copenhagen Business School

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Only a few empirical studies have investigated principal-agent problems in transportation, notwithstanding the significant attention gained by agency theory in the last decade. The container shipping industry’s charter market exhibits a particular type of principal-agent problems deriving from information asymmetries between charterer and owner. We investigate agency theory in transportation science by analyzing the impact of split incentives and information asymmetries on carbon emissions. To construct a robust panel analysis, we collaborated with a leading maritime NGO to source cross-sector operational information for the period 2010-2019. We show that in the case of container shipping, chartering results in about 8% higher carbon emissions, benchmarked against owner-operated vessels, which can be explained as a consequence of principal-agent problems. We also discuss operational cost increases deriving from levying a carbon price in accordance with the Paris Agreement targets. We present guidance to respective carbon policies and point to incentives to overcome underinvestment in green technologies.


Christopher Dirzka joined the Kühne Logistics University in September 2018 as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Michele Acciaro, PhD. The research focuses on Maritime Economics, in particular on liner shipping and technological advances. Prior to joining the KLU, the candidate gained professional experience as an analyst for the Baltic and International Maritime Council. Further, worked in the broker division of Mærsk as a Research Analyst, with a particular focus on providing quantitative advisory tools to various external stakeholders. The candidate conducted his bachelor studies in Economics and Business Administration at Aarhus University and specialized in Supply Chain Management with the focus on seaborne logistics at the Copenhagen Business School, where he concluded his master degree.



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Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty