The management of interfaces is central in supply chain management (SCM) and logistics. An important part of SCM is coordination and collaboration with different partners such as suppliers, intermediaries, third party service providers and customers (CSCMP, 2010). Collaboration between parties in the supply chain is generally believed to decrease costs and increase efficiency as well as service. Moreover, the success of a firm is dependent on its managerial ability to integrate and coordinate the business relationships among the supply chain members (Lambert and Cooper, 2000). The supply chain linkage ought to be so tight that separate organizational units share the same purpose and suppliers and customers help each other to achieve mutually beneficial objectives (Seth et al., 2006).
In the SCM literature interfaces seldom include the logistics service provider (hereafter labelled LSP). Instead, most interfaces discussed are those between a shipper and the receiver of the goods (Skjoett-Larsen et al., 2003; Stefanson, 2006). One reason for this could be that logistics firms are the least integrated link in supply chains (Lemoine and Skjoett-larsen, 2004) or that, as noted by Fabbe-Costes et al. (2009), LSPs seem to be the forgotten actors of supply chain integration. Furthermore, LSPs are often merely seen as actors that supports other members of the supply chain, providing resources, knowledge, utilities or assets for the primary members (Spens and Bask, 2002). Several logistics related trends, such as the shift towards outsourcing and increased globalisation, increase the need for strong relationships between LSPs and supplychains (Seth et al., 2006).
Most of the research conducted on LSPs applies either a shipper or an LSP perspective, instead of a dyad perspective. Literature in the context of service quality in supply chains also commonly considers only one directional view (Seth et al., 2006). Knemeyer and Murphy (2005) mean that there is a need to simultaneously consider both shipper and LSP perspectives in order to decrease the risk of key perceptual differences (gaps) that can negatively influence the logistics service quality.
Shippers and LSPs face an emerging and considerable challenge because of the large negative impact transports have on the natural environment and, as stated by for example the EEA (2007) and Roth and Kåberger (2002), the environmental performance of the transport sector is an increasing problem. Because of growing freight transport it is not surprising that both shippers and LSPs are pressured from different stakeholders, such as governments and customers, to lower their environmental impact from transports (McKinnon, 2003; McKinnon and Piecyk, 2009; Wolf and Seuring, 2010). This creates an opportunity for LSPs to be proactive and meet these demands by considering environmental issues in their business models and as a value adding service offering.
The correspondence between customer needs and the service offerings is essential in order to succeed with the service concept (Edvardsson, 1997). However, that does not necessarily mean that supply and demand always match. For example, Wolf and Seuring (2010) found that the LSPs seem to be ahead of their customers when it comes to environmental issues, but state this with caution and call for further research in this area. With the aim to learn more about the interface between LSPs and shippers and how environmental issues are taken into account, the purpose of this paper is:
To develop and apply a tool for the identification of matches and gaps in the interface between LSPs’ green offerings and shippers’ green demands.
There are many ways to label the actor responsible for the supply of logistics services. In this paper, the term logistics service providers (LSPs) is applied and, inspired by Fabbe-Costes et al. (2009) and Forslund (2010), includes actors such as carriers, forwarding companies, transport(ation) companies, third party logistics providers/partners and logistics service companies/providers/suppliers.
This paper is divided into five main parts. After the introduction, a literature section on the greening of the LSP-Shipper interface will be presented. This is followed by a gap section, ending with the developed gap model. Next, the survey study is explained, after which findings from the application of the model are presented. The paper ends with conclusions and future research suggestions.
Emerald , 2012. Vol. 42, no 6, 562-583 p.
Sweden, Logistics management, Environmental management, Logistics service provider, Shippers, Interface, Green logistics, Gap analysis