Supply chain integration: the role of logistics service providers

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ Considering the importance of supply chain integration (SCI) in literature and the increasing outsourcing of logistics, this paper aims to study the role of logistics service providers (LSPs) in supporting SCI and clients' performance. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This research is based on a two-step approach: a literature review on supply chain integration (SCI) and performance regarding how LSPs are taken into account; and an analysis of web sites of LSPs concerning how they communicate their role and whether they themselves consider they have a role in improving the SCI and performance of their clients. Results are then discussed in view of some major works on third party logistics. Findings ‐ Some surprising conclusions are drawn. Among the analysed articles very few take LSPs into consideration. The web site analysis shows LSPs varying in their communication. Some do not consider SCI as part of their job, others balance between being pure "resource providers" and taking the riskier role of "supply chain designers". The analysis of the roles LSPs can play in supply chains enriches the understanding of the SCI phenomenon. Research limitations/implications ‐ In this paper SCI performance papers are analysed. A review of papers on LSPs could be another relevant starting point. The web site analysis concerns LSPs' communication. Further research could complement with the shippers' perspectives. Practical implications ‐ Results suggest different dimensions to structure LSPs' strategies vis-à-vis clients' SCI and performance. Originality/value ‐ The main contributions of this paper are questioning and analysing what role LSPs play in SCI and performance, and expanding the framework for SCI studies.
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