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Horizontal cooperations between logistics service providers: motives, structure, performance

Christina Schmoltzi (WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Kuehne‐Center for Logistics Management, Vallendar, Germany)
Carl Marcus Wallenburg (Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




This paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the motives, structure and performance attributes of horizontal cooperations between logistics service providers (LSPs). Based on an analytical classification model, distinctive types of logistics cooperation that characterize the logistics landscape are identified.


Empirical data were collected on horizontal LSP cooperations from managers of German LSPs. Different uni‐ and multi‐variate statistical methods including ANOVA and cluster analysis were applied to the dataset of 226 cooperations for a total of 6,081 involved parties.


Horizontal cooperations with other LSPs are an organizational form used by 57 percent of LSPs. Cooperation decisions are substantially driven by external market objectives. Six distinctive types of cooperation are identified. They reveal the dominance of multi‐lateral and international networks that are mainly based on contractual agreements. There is a clear preference for partners with similar market competencies and for strong functional integration. Despite its inherent complexity, performance of these cooperations is high – its less than 19 percent failure rate makes these cooperations substantially more stable than cooperations within manufacturing industries.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited to an exploratory, descriptive approach in providing a sound understanding of the cooperation landscape.

Practical implications

The findings contribute transparency to horizontal LSP cooperations and a common understanding of their idiosyncrasies. The conclusions help logistics managers to position themselves better within the cooperation landscape. Further, the analyses offer managers a conceptual classification of horizontal LSP cooperations and some guidance on how to structure their individual LSP cooperations more successfully.


This paper is the first empirical study that defines the types of cooperation that comprise the logistics cooperation landscape. The analysis integrates a holistic perspective of their contractual, organizational, functional, geographical, service and resource scope and matches them with underlying motives and performance attributes.



Schmoltzi, C. and Marcus Wallenburg, C. (2011), "Horizontal cooperations between logistics service providers: motives, structure, performance", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 552-575.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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