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The emergence of city logistics: the case of Copenhagen’s Citylogistik-kbh

Britta Gammelgaard (Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark.)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 5 May 2015




Many city logistics projects in Europe have failed. A better understanding of the complex organizational change processes in city logistics projects with many stakeholders may expand city logistics capabilities and thereby help prevent future failures. The purpose of this paper is therefore to increase understanding of how city logistics emerge, and secondarily, to investigate whether such processes can be managed at all.


A paradigm shift in urban planning creates new ways of involving stakeholders in new sustainability measures such as city logistics. Organizational change theory is applied to capture the social processes leading to emergence of city logistics. The methodology is a qualitative processual analysis of a single longitudinal case.


The change process took different forms over time. At the time of concluding the analysis, positive dialectic forces were at play. City logistics schemes are still in an innovation phase. The biggest challenge in managing a process toward city logistics is to convince the many public and private stakeholders of their mutual interest and goals.

Research limitations/implications

Urban goods transport sustainability schemes take many forms, and city logistics is but one such form. Furthermore, the methodology of a single context specific case study does not make prediction possible.

Practical implications

Fewer city logistics projects may fail due to stakeholder participation.

Social implications

Fewer city logistics projects may fail. Thereby, cities become more environmentally and socially sustainable.


Insights into a city logistics project from a change management perspective has not previously been reported in literature.



Gammelgaard, B. (2015), "The emergence of city logistics: the case of Copenhagen’s Citylogistik-kbh", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 333-351.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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