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Green supply chain management: Practices and tools for logistics competitiveness and sustainability. The DHL case study

Silvia Cosimato (Department of Industrial Engeenering, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy)
Orlando Troisi (Department of Management & Information Technology, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Globalization has led worldwide organizations to balance their economic and environmental performances in order to achieve a concrete sustainable development. In an environmental centered world, logistics is called to put into action advanced programs based on technological and organizational improvement, in order to gain or maintain a concrete competitive advantage. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how logistics organizations try to face the recent ecological challenges and the role that the emergent green technologies play in making them finally “green” and competitive.

Design/methodology/approach

Green supply chain management (GSCM) practices have been investigated to better understand their influence on economic performance and corporate competitiveness. After providing a background discussion on Green Logistics and GSCM, the authors have also identified specific research questions that are worthy of investigation, also thorough the DHL case study. The case study analysis has been conducted according to a specific conceptual model (Rao and Holt, 2005), which allows a deeper understanding of literature review results.

Findings

The present paper offers some insights on innovation influence on supply chain management (SCM) greenness, a process oriented to a sustainable and environmental-friendly approach to management of supply chain. According to DHL case study evidence, in logistics innovation, often based on emerging green technologies, is strictly related to the development of a much more sustainable and environment-friendly approach to SCM, based on reduction of core activities’ ecological impact, cost saving, quality, reliability, performance and energy efficiency. In this context, the respect of environmental regulations is fundamental to achieve not only a reduction of ecological damage, but also to overall economic profit.

Research limitations/implications

There is a concrete need of further research to better understand the potential link between GSCM, green innovation and logistic organizations competitiveness. In fact, this research area still represents a source of interesting challenges for practitioners, academicians and researchers. Concluding, the research findings cannot be generalized to all logistic organizations, even if DHL is on of the most important and globalized logistic companies. Future researches should empirically test the achieved results also through comparative studies based on a large sample.

Originality/value

The suggestion of literature review and the result of case study analysis represent a first attempt to better understand the real and potential influence of GSCM on corporate image and competitiveness. In fact, the present investigation has pointed out that logistic organization can achieve environmental goals and acquire a better positioning than their competitors also cooperating with stakeholders. Therefore, it is necessary that organizations contribute to make them able to participate in corporate activities and develop a concrete environmental-friendly orientation, based on the respect of market’s requests and environmental regulations in order to get their corporate reputation strong than ever.

Keywords

Citation

Cosimato, S. and Troisi, O. (2015), "Green supply chain management: Practices and tools for logistics competitiveness and sustainability. The DHL case study ", The TQM Journal, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 256-276. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-01-2015-0007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited