Is the glass half full or half empty?

A. Michael Knemeyer (Department of Marketing and Logistics, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Paul R. Murphy (Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics, Boler School of Business, John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper provides a comparison of users and providers of third‐party logistics (3PL) services with respect to relationship marketing elements, such as trust and communication, as well as relationship marketing outcomes, such as retention and recovery.


Constructs for the relationship marketing elements and outcomes were derived from the extant literature and modified to reflect the nature of 3PL arrangements. The relevant data were collected from separate, but consistent, mail surveys that were sent to users of 3PL services as well as providers of 3PL services.


The results indicate statistically significant differences between 3PL users and providers across eight of nine relationship marketing elements, with the lone non‐significant comparison involving the communication construct. There are also statistically significant differences between 3PL users and providers for each of the four relationship marketing outcomes.

Research limitations

Although the present study utilized previously validated relationship marketing elements and outcomes, future research could examine other relationship marketing elements and outcomes. Future research could also investigate relationship marketing issues through dyads/matched pairs of 3PL users and providers.


This manuscript examines 3PL with respect to theories and/or frameworks that comes from outside the logistics discipline, an approach advocated by Stock. Moreover, the paper adds to Moore's 3PL/relationship marketing research by investigating relationship elements and outcomes. The current paper adds to the rather limited literature that incorporates both 3PL user and provider perspectives.



Knemeyer, A. and Murphy, P. (2005), "Is the glass half full or half empty?", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 35 No. 10, pp. 708-727.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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