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Towards greener supply chains: Inclusion of environmental activities in relationships between logistics service providers and shippers
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8969-9396
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is well-recognised that companies are under pressure to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their operations. Logistics service providers (LSPs), who through their transport and logistics operations have a large negative impact on the environment, are one type of supply chain actor that is under such pressure. However, in order for LSPs to be able to lower their environmental impact sufficiently, their customers, the shippers, also need to take responsibility. This thesis takes its starting point in the relationships between LSPs and shippers and argues that in order for LSPs’ environmental activities to reach their full potential, the shippers must be included in the activities.

The purpose of this thesis is to describe and explain how supply chain actors, with a specific focus on logistics service providers and shippers, can include environmental activities in their relationships with each other. This comprises identifying those environmental activities that are relevant for relationships between LSPs and shippers, as well as describing the extent to which environmental activities are included in such relationships. By means of the theoretical perspective of power between supply chain actors, the thesis also sets out to further understand how power balances between LSPs and shippers can influence the extent to which they include environmental activities in their relationships with each other. Finally, the use of the theoretical perspective of coordination aims, through the analysis of coordination mechanisms, to shed light on how environmental activities are included in LSP-shipper relationships.

The research in this thesis has mainly descriptive and explanatory aims, although due to the novelty of research into LSPshipper relationships in an environmental context, the research process as such is mainly exploratory. Following an abductive approach, the insights from literature are combined with empirical data from two cases studies, a homepage scan, a survey and a study of city logistics projects. Most of the applied research methods take a dual perspective of relationships between supply chain actors and thus include both LSPs and shippers.

One conclusion from the research conducted for this thesis comprises the identification of environmental activities as well as a suggestion for a classification based on the activities’ role in the business between LSPs and shippers. With a starting point in the identified activities, a comparison of a market perspective and a relationship perspective of environmental activities in LSP-shipper relationships indicates that LSPs are able to fulfil the requirements set by shippers and that shippers’ requirement thus are met. The research does, however, point to a passiveness among LSPs in their relationships with shippers, who in turn would like the LSPs to be more proactive.

Further, based on an analysis of power balances in LSP-shipper relationships, it is suggested that in an LSP-shipper relationship in which the shipper has a power advantage, the shipper’s environmental ambitions for logistics sets the agenda for the environmental activities in that relationship.

An analysis of coordination of environmental activities in LSP-shipper relationships indicates that the mechanisms of direct supervision, which is when one actor tells the other actor in the relationship what to do, and mutual adjustment can be chosen to be used in order to include environmental activities in LSP-shipper relationships. While direct supervision is suggested to be a coordination mechanism that is easy for shippers to apply, mutual adjustment appears to hold greater potential for the development of environmental activities.

Finally, these findings in combination are suggested to have implications for the coordination of environmental activities in LSP-shipper relationships. More specifically, this thesis offers a categorisation of different types of LSP-shipper relationships and the involved actors’ environmental ambition. Depending on whether the environmental ambition of the LSP and shipper in a specific relationship is high or low appears to have implications for the possibility to work towards greener supply chains for each type of relationship.

Abstract [sv]

Många företag känner av pressen av agera för att minska sin miljöpåverkan. Flera företag har också insett att ett sådant agerande även har affärsmässiga fördelar. När det gäller miljöpåverkan så tillhör logistikföretagen, till stor del på grund av sina transporter, de företag som insett att något måste göras. Möjligheten för dessa företag att göra olika miljöåtgärder påverkas av varuägarna som köper logistikföretagens tjänster. Som en följd av detta blir länken mellan dessa företag – relationen – viktig för att möjliggöra förbättringar när det gäller påverkan från logistiken. Denna avhandling har som syfte att beskriva och förklara hur aktörer i försörjningskedjan, med ett speciellt fokus på relationer mellan logistikföretag och varuägare, kan inkludera miljöåtgärder i sina relationer med varandra.

För att över huvud taget kunna diskutera miljöåtgärder i relationer mellan logistikföretag och varuägare så är det viktigt att veta vad för typer av miljöåtgärder detta kan röra sig om. Första forskningsfrågan i avhandlingen behandlar detta och i avhandlingen identifieras ett antal sådana åtgärder. Det kan röra sig om relativt tekniska åtgärder så som alternativa bränslen, olika typer av fordon och energieffektiv körning, till åtgärder som handlar om styrning av logistiken, så som design av logistiksystemen, till åtgärder som är väldigt relationsspecifika som exempelvis specifika projekt eller miljögrupper.

Med avstamp i de identifierade åtgärderna analyseras sedan relationerna mellan logistikföretag och varuägare i några olika steg. En jämförelse mellan logistikföretagens och varuägarnas perspektiv på de miljöåtgärder som erbjuds, efterfrågas samt ingår i relationerna dem emellan visar att logistikföretagen ofta kan tillgodose sina kunders önskemål. Samtidigt som detta visar att varuägarnas önskemål verkar vara uppfyllda, så finns det en frustration från varuägarnas sida över att logistikföretagen inte är mer proaktiva.

En av anledningarna till detta kan vara maktbalansen mellan logistikföretag och varuägare. Resultaten i avhandlingen pekar nämligen på att varuägarna oftast har makten över logistikföretagen, vilket verkar leda till att varuägarens ambitioner gällande miljö ofta är det som sätter agendan för vilka miljöåtgärder som inkluderas i relationen mellan dessa företag.

Vidare så kan de miljöåtgärder som ingår i en relation mellan logistikföretag och varuägare koordineras på olika sätt och flera sådana tas upp i avhandlingen. Resultaten pekar även på att maktbalansen i relationerna påverkar i vilken grad miljöåtgärder inkluderas i relationer mellan logistikföretag och varuägare samt hur dessa koordineras. En matris, som bygger på logistikföretagets och varuägarens ambitioner gällande miljö för en specifik relation, sammanfattar resultaten i avhandlingen. Beroende på om denna ambition är hög eller låg för de båda aktörerna påverkar i sin tur möjligheten för varje typ av relation att arbeta mot gröna försörjningskedjor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. , 127 + 2 Case Reports p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1565
Keyword [en]
Green supply chain management, inter-organisational relationships, environmental activities, logistics service providers, shippers
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102564DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-102564ISBN: 978-91-7519-440-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-102564DiVA: diva2:679084
Public defence
2014-02-07, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-12-13 Created: 2013-12-13 Last updated: 2016-11-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Towards unearthing environmental activities in the interface between logistics service providers and shippers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards unearthing environmental activities in the interface between logistics service providers and shippers
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose of this paper: The importance of environmental consideration for companies is mounting. This applies particularly well to logistics service providers (LSPs) who will have a possibility to compete by being greener than their competitors by offering services that include different environmental activities. As their customers play a vital role with regard to the extent to which LSPs can include environmental activities in their business, the interface between these actors is of interest. The purpose of this article is to describe how environmental logistics activities are offered and required on the logistics market, and how the green logistics exchange that becomes part of a business deal can relate to the scope of activities.

Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review of what has been published on environmental activities as parts of offerings and requirements was complemented by a wider literature review. Empirical data was collected through a homepage scan and a case study of four LSPshipper dyads. The analysis was performed stepwise, where the empirical data sets complemented and refined the initial findings from the literature review.

Findings: The paper identifies a range of environmental activities that can be included as parts of offerings of LSPs or requirements of shippers, as well as parts of the green exchange in business deals between these two types of actors. Further, a classification of environmental activities is proposed based on their role in the business between LSPs and shippers.

Research limitations/implications (if applicable): The article is mainly based on companies’ activities in Sweden and thereby provides a possibility to extend the research into other countries as well. By taking two perspectives, the findings from this research can have implications both for purchasing and marketing of logistic services.

Practical implications (if applicable): The paper suggests which environmental activities that LSPs and shippers can include in different stages of their business relationships.

What is original/value of paper: The dual perspective of LSPs and shippers taken in this paper offers novel insight into how various environmental activities can be included at different stages of LSP-shipper relationships.

Keyword
Logistics service provider, green logistics, offering, environmental activity, data triangulation
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102560 (URN)
Available from: 2013-12-13 Created: 2013-12-13 Last updated: 2016-11-30Bibliographically approved
2. Performance Measurements in the Greening of Supply Chains
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Performance Measurements in the Greening of Supply Chains
2012 (English)In: Supply chain management, ISSN 1359-8546, E-ISSN 1758-6852, Vol. 17, no 1, 29-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: In response to increasing demands on improved environmental performance, companies need to develop their capabilities in assessing the environmental performance of their operations. Knowledge among practitioners as well as solid research results in this area lacks. This paper aims to present a framework of dimensions important to consider regarding environmental measurement in supply chain management. The paper also aims to present a practical example on how environmental performance measurements can be a success by applying these dimensions.

Design/methodology/approach: Literature regarding logistics management and performance measurement is coupled with theories regarding environmental logistics and green supply chain management. A framework is developed. A case study based on four actors in a reverse supply chain is used to illustrate the framework.

Findings: The paper outlines important aspects to consider in the design of environmental performance measurements in supply chain management and identifies shortcomings in existing research. The case presents successful examples of how environmental performance measurements can be applied across managerial levels as well as company borders in a supply chain.

Practical implications: The literature review shows shortcomings in the measuring tools applied today. The case provides examples of how these shortcomings can be addressed.

Originality/value: This paper addresses the intersection between environmental logistics and performance measurements. The case shows how environmental performance measurements can be applied over a single company’s borders by including four different actors in the supply chain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012
Keyword
Environmental logistics, Logistics measurement and performance, Green performance measurement, Supply chain management.
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68842 (URN)10.1108/13598541211212186 (DOI)000301694700004 ()
Projects
Konkurrenskraftiga affärsmodeller för att möta framtidens krav på hållbara logistiksystem
Available from: 2011-06-08 Created: 2011-06-08 Last updated: 2017-12-11
3. The importance of stakeholder relationships in city logistics projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The importance of stakeholder relationships in city logistics projects
2012 (English)In: NoFoMa Conference, Book of proceedings / [ed] Juuso Töyli, Laura Johansson, Harri Lorentz, Lauri Ojala and Sini Laari, Naantali, Finland., 2012, 602-617 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Purpose of this paper: As a result of the negative impact of freight transport on the environment, logistics solutions in city centres have recently attracted increasing attention. In order to succeed with city logistics projects, collaboration between various stakeholders such as local authorities, logistics companies, retailers and property owners is essential, which is one reason why the interdependence among the stakeholders is a crucial aspect in relation to the projects. The purpose of this paper is to explore city logistics projects based on stakeholders’ cooperative relationships and to suggest how the nature of dependence between the stakeholders can affect the project.

Design/methodology/approach: A wide range of documented city logistics projects is narrowed down in an iterative process, and three projects where relationships are described are analysed, supported by literature on interorganisational relationships. The analysis is based on the official documentation of city logistics projects.

Findings: This paper illustrates how dependence between stakeholders in city logistics solutions can affect the project. The local authorities’ dependence on the commercial stakeholders is a common pattern, while the residents/consumers are those most often neglected. Although local authorities apply different strategies to involve various stakeholder groups, the poor documentation of stakeholder relationships suggests that this issue has been given limited attention in city logistics projects.

Research limitations/implications (if applicable): Because of the impact of stakeholder relationships on city logistics projects, it is suggested that future projects would benefit from increased attention being paid to such relationships.

Practical implications (if applicable): The notion of how various dependencies between actors may affect the projects can be beneficial for local authorities as it leads to a better understanding of their dependence on other stakeholders.

Originality/value: With support from literature on inter-organisational relationships, this research addresses the often omitted aspects of stakeholder collaboration and, specifically, the impact of stakeholder dependence in city logistics projects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Naantali, Finland.: , 2012
Keyword
City logistics, stakeholders, inter-organisational relationships, stakeholder dependence
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79645 (URN)978-952-249-204-3 (ISBN)
Conference
NoFoMa Conference 2012, 24th NOFOMA Conference, 7-8 June, Turku, Finland
Available from: 2012-08-13 Created: 2012-08-13 Last updated: 2016-11-30Bibliographically approved
4. Matches and Gaps in the Green Logistics market
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Matches and Gaps in the Green Logistics market
2012 (English)In: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, ISSN 0960-0035, E-ISSN 1758-664X, Vol. 42, no 6, 562-583 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald, 2012
Keyword
Sweden, Logistics management, Environmental management, Logistics service provider, Shippers, Interface, Green logistics, Gap analysis
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68838 (URN)10.1108/09600031211250596 (DOI)000314562000004 ()
Projects
Konkurrenskraftiga affärsmodeller för att möta framtidens krav på hållbara logistiksystem
Available from: 2011-06-08 Created: 2011-06-08 Last updated: 2017-12-11
5. Coordination of environmental measures in logistics service privider-shipper relationships
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coordination of environmental measures in logistics service privider-shipper relationships
2013 (English)In: Digital proceedings of the 25th NOFOMA Conference, 2013, 1-16 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Purpose

Despite increasing research into logistics service providers’ (LSPs’) environmental measures, limited attention has been given to LSP-shipper relationships. This is surprising considering the fact that there is increasing pressure on supply chains to become greener and LSPs are important actors in these supply chains. The aim of this paper is to suggest how environmental measures can be coordinated in LSP-shipper relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

Four dyadic case studies, consisting of one LSP and one shipper each, provide the empirical basis for this paper. Literature on interorganisational coordination mechanisms is applied to the case findings in order to analyse how environmental measures are coordinated in the dyads. 

Findings

This paper identifies a number of coordination mechanisms applicable for different types of environmental measures in LSP-shipper relationships. Moreover, it is suggested that some environmental measures that can be taken in LSP-shipper relationships can be coordinated through different types of coordination mechanisms.

Research limitations/implications (if applicable)

Although the four cases presented in this paper give suggestions of coordination of environmental measures, studies into additional dyads could give further understanding with regards to environmental coordination in LSP-shipper relationships.

Practical implications (if applicable)

The results of this paper can help both LSPs and shippers understand how to work with environmental measures by the use of the appropriate coordination mechanisms.

Original/value

Contrary to previous research, which mainly takes one party's perspective, this paper takes a dyadic approach and thereby adds valuable knowledge to the interorganisational aspects of LSPs’ environmental work.

Keyword
Coordination mechanism, dyads, logistics service provider, green supply chains, environmental measures, interorganisational relationships
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-98701 (URN)978-91-980973-3-7 (ISBN)
Conference
25th NOFOMA Conference, 3-5 June 2013, Gothenburg, Sweden
Projects
Effektivare Citylogistik – En nödvändighet för både industri och samhälle
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Available from: 2013-10-11 Created: 2013-10-11 Last updated: 2016-11-30

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