Exploring knowledge management practices in third-party logistics service providers

Susanne Durst (School of Business, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden)
Pietro Evangelista (Research Institute on Innovation and Services for Development (IRISS), National Research Council (CNR), Naples, Italy)

VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems

ISSN: 2059-5891

Publication date: 14 May 2018



This paper aims to explore knowledge management (KM) practices implemented by third-party logistics service companies (3PLs) and the main barriers slowing down the adoption of such practices.


The methodological approach used in this paper is based on a multiple case study analysis involving a set of 3PLs operating in Italy and Sweden. The empirical analysis has explored the KM practices used by 3PLs and the main barrier hindering their adoption.


In spite of some adoption, the findings suggest that 3PLs are not sufficiently realizing the full potential of KM. The evidence also indicates that there is a link between the type of 3PL company (in terms of the breadth and complexity of the services supplied) and the sophistication of KM tools adopted.

Research limitations/implications

From a research point of view, further research should focus on the validation of the link between the number and sophistication of KM tools used and the breadth of services supplied. Further research should also focus on exploring how KM can support 3PL companies in enhancing their performance.

Practical implications

From a practical point of view, the findings may help the management of 3PL companies to take a more strategic approach to KM and thus its contribution to the firms’ overall goals. Additionally, it is critical to conduct a careful analysis of current and future KM needs to identify the most suitable KM solutions linked to the specific characteristics of the business in which 3PLs operate.


This study provides fresh insights into the adoption of KM practices in logistics service organizations. The findings advance the limited body of knowledge regarding this topic and contribute to the further development of the study of KM.



Durst, S. and Evangelista, P. (2018), "Exploring knowledge management practices in third-party logistics service providers", VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, Vol. 48 No. 2, pp. 162-177. https://doi.org/10.1108/VJIKMS-05-2016-0030

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