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Relationship between 4PL providers and carriers: A tale of a love-hate relationship

Sanchez Rodrigues, Vasco and Rao, Avinash Majji 2017. Relationship between 4PL providers and carriers: A tale of a love-hate relationship. Presented at: Logistics Research Network 2017, Southampton, UK, 6-8 September 2017.

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Abstract

Purpose: The relationship between an intermediary like 4PL and carriers can fail. Hence, the main purpose of this research is to investigate the factors, challenges and the flexibilities that are involved in a relationship between 4PL and carriers. Identifying and addressing these issues will help the 4PL to achieve its ultimate objective i.e. deliver greater value to the customer. Design/methodology/approach: To suit the exploratory nature of the study, the research takes a qualitative approach. A case study of a leading 4PL is considered for the investigation and a three-phase methodology is deployed. In the first phase, a pilot study consisting of a focus group of 10 respondents is conducted with management staff from the 4PL. In phase two, several semi-structured interviews were conducted with relevant staff from four European carriers the 4PL uses. Subsequently, in Phase 3, follow-up interviews was carried out to verify the findings from the two phases. Findings: The role of an intermediary like 4PL involves multiple stakeholders and therefore, mutual Trust and Commitment becomes the most important factor for a thriving 4PL relationship. This factor influences other factors such information leverage, resource (asset) sharing, goal alignment, service, innovation and cost control. One major challenge identified is that carrier’s relationship with 4PL’s customer may create complexities within the existing relationship between the 4PL and carriers. Lastly, a successful 4PL - carrier collaborative partnership needs to seek synergies and flexibilities among the 4PL and the carrier as well as cost savings. Research limitations/Implications: Time and research constraints limited the scope to study industries from other markets, sectors and geographies. This research may be used by 4PL practitioners for making carrier selection efficient or to re-design existing carrier selection strategies. Originality/value: This paper is the first attempt to integrate three different streams of research namely, supply chain collaboration, supply chain flexibility (through the notion of agility) and the concept of 4PL (as an intermediary). Further contribution can be determined through the nuanced view of the collaboration between 4PL and carriers in the pharmaceutical supply chain which includes the outset of critical success factors along with the identification of additional factors that may challenge the existing literature.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 December 2018
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2018 16:15
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/116411

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