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How can logistics service providers foster supply chain collaboration in logistics triads? Insights from the Italian grocery industry

Lorenzo Bruno Prataviera (Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, UK and Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milan, Milan, Italy)
Alessandro Creazza (School of Industrial Engineering, Università Carlo Cattaneo LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)
Fabrizio Dallari (School of Industrial Engineering, Università Carlo Cattaneo LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)
Marco Melacini (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 21 December 2021

Issue publication date: 6 March 2023

1307

Abstract

Purpose

Collaborative solutions are increasingly being proposed to generate value in supply chains. Concurrently, firms have progressively outsourced logistics operations to logistics service providers (LSPs). However, many questions remain unsolved regarding the role played by LSPs in supporting supply chain collaboration (SCC) in triadic rather than dyadic contexts. This study aims to explore the relational mechanisms that LSPs can leverage to foster value creation through collaboration, elaborating on an existing theory about SCC by focussing on logistics triads.

Design/methodology/approach

By leveraging the view of the network theory, a multiple case study approach was adopted. Seven cases having logistics triads as units of analysis were identified and analysed within the Italian grocery supply chain, allowing for empirical investigation with a middle-range approach to extend the previous theory.

Findings

LSPs are pivotal actors that can actively promote SCC. LSPs can exploit large volumes and asset availability to increase efficiency while improving logistics flexibility and developing regular and trustworthy relationships with the other triad members. Building upon their logistics capabilities and the relational mechanisms in place, LSPs can help manufacturers collaborate with retailers by improving mutual trust and communication, acting as trust builders or trust conductors within the triad.

Originality/value

The study explores the role of LSPs in logistics triads, extending the previous literature. It highlights that LSPs facilitate not only supply and demand integration but also relational integration between firms. Trust emerges as a fundamental building block for SCC, as LSPs can look beyond economic benefits to foster partnerships that empower the co-development of original collaborative solutions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank GS1 Italy and all the companies interviewed, as well as acknowledge the valuable contribution of Paolo Radaelli and Luca Viganò to the research.

Citation

Prataviera, L.B., Creazza, A., Dallari, F. and Melacini, M. (2023), "How can logistics service providers foster supply chain collaboration in logistics triads? Insights from the Italian grocery industry", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 242-261. https://doi.org/10.1108/SCM-03-2021-0120

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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