The development of outbound logistics services in the automotive industry

Mervi Rajahonka (Department of Business Technology, Aalto University School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)
Anu Bask (Department of Information and Service Economy, Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Logistics Management, The

ISSN: 0957-4093

Publication date: 14 November 2016



The automotive industry has been studied extensively, but few studies focus on outbound logistics in automotive supply chains, or on the logistics service provider’s (LSP’s) point of view. Furthermore, there is hardly any research on service model innovation in LSPs. The purpose of this paper is to narrow these research gaps.


The analysis is based on a single-case study – an LSP that specializes in services for the automotive industry. The paper examines the company’s service models and their development over time.


The findings show how the case company has moved towards multifaceted service models through a number of radical and incremental innovations. Moreover, it has used the same methods in developing all its new service models, and has applied modularity principles in service innovation to achieve better process efficiency and service effectiveness.

Research limitations/implications

The rather narrow focus of this study – automotive logistics in a specific area – decreases the generalizability of the findings beyond this context. However, the single-case approach offers in-depth insights, and the analytical frameworks developed herein for service models is applicable in other contexts.

Practical implications

The analysis may help LSPs and service companies in their service design and development. The use of modularity principles makes it easier to offer mass-customized services and to develop efficient processes.


This study narrows a research gap in examining outbound logistics services in the automotive supply chain and focussing on the LSP’s perspective.



The authors wish to thank SE Mäkinen Logistics Oy for the thorough and illuminating discussions held on several occasions, and for the commitment that enabled deep analysis of the case company. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments for developing the paper. The authors also highly appreciate the Aalto University Service Factory for partially funding this research.


Rajahonka, M. and Bask, A. (2016), "The development of outbound logistics services in the automotive industry", International Journal of Logistics Management, The, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 707-737.

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