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Necessary and sufficient antecedents of customer loyalty to logistics service providers

Ilias Vlachos (La Rochelle Business School, Excelia Group, La Rochelle, France)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 30 September 2020

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to empirically study the necessary and sufficient antecedents of customer loyalty to logistics service providers (LSPs). Despite the abundance of loyalty studies, few studies have empirically examined the complex causal relationships between loyalty and its antecedents using the appropriate research methods.


The study uses fuzzy sets qualitative comparison analysis (FsQCA) to uncover the antecedents and antecedent configurations of customer loyalty. This study examined the necessity and sufficiency of five antecedents (operational collaboration, strategic collaboration, trust, service satisfaction and price satisfaction) and on five dimensions of loyalty (repurchase intension, switching costs, exclusiveness, referrals and overall loyalty). This study developed six research hypotheses based on existing literature and tested them empirically in a manufacturing context. This study compared results from FsQCA with regression analysis.


The findings reveal that only a few antecedent configurations lead to customer loyalty, including a combination of strategic and operational collaboration, bundling of service offerings and combining competitive price with strategic collaboration. Further, the absence of trust negatively affects loyalty, but the presence of trust does not lead to loyalty.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to business to business literature by demonstrating how to use FsQCA analysis to test the presence of equifinality, conjunction and causal asymmetry of complex relationships. This study applies FsQCA between antecedent factors and customer loyalty. Furthermore, we demonstrate how to compare and integrate FsQCA with conventional regression analysis which is based on correlation-bounded logic.

Practical implications

This study shows that no single antecedents that can generate loyalty, yet, few antecedent configurations work better than others: collaborating at both strategic and operational level with your partner has the highest impact on loyalty. Another configuration that leads to loyalty is to combine competitive prices with strategic collaboration, which particularly stimulates repurchase decisions. Price is are not sufficient enough to lead to customer loyalty.


This study applied a novel analysis to uncover necessary and sufficient conditions that conventional methods such as regression analysis and structural equation modelling have limited power.



The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their suggestions to improve this manuscript.


Vlachos, I. (2021), "Necessary and sufficient antecedents of customer loyalty to logistics service providers", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 729-748.



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