Logistics Service Providers Going Green A Framework for Developing Green Service Offerings

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Environmental impact has increasingly become a “buzzword” and an important topic. This topic has been integrated into the agenda of many companies worldwide, and this dissertation focuses on the transportation and logistics industry. Environmental concerns have gained increased attention among many logistic service providers (LSPs) due to the environmental impact from their operations, and they have been identified of having a significant role in reducing the environmental burden in the supply chain. An environmental approach of the LSPs' business has also been identified as a way to achieve competitive advantage and provide market opportunities where the development and marketing of new products and services associated with green issues are suggested as important aspects for future growth. However, considering the scarcity of research regarding this topic, a study that reveals potential aspects in the development of green service offerings can bridge the knowledge gap and provide opportunities for further research within this field. The purpose of this dissertation is therefore to develop and explain a framework for LSPs’ development of green service offerings. The purpose is addressed by first investigating LSPs' service development from a general perspective in order to, in a second stage, reach a better understanding of the implications when integrating green aspects in LSPs' service development efforts.Theoretically, this dissertation departed from service marketing literature or more specifically new service development (NSD) research. This resulted in a conceptual framework including key dimensions and aspects regarding a company’s NSD efforts and activities. From this foundation, the theoretical framework was developed further based on research regarding LSPs' service development and innovation management. Finally the framework was extended with green logistics literature as well as research regarding LSPs' green development and influences on their service offerings.Empirically, this research is mainly based on qualitative data from an in-depth case study on a large LSP active on the Swedish market. In addition, empirical data from a multiple case study and a questionnaire survey conducted for the Licentiate thesis were used in order to enrich the analysis regarding the LSPs' development of green service offerings. The analysis followed a stepwise approach where literature and empirical data were analysed.One of the main results in this dissertation is the framework for LSPs' new service development, consisting of five dimensions: NSD culture, NSD strategy, NSD process focus, IT use and expertise and NSD knowledge and skills. The NSD framework presents a holistic view of the LSPs’ NSD efforts by revealing different dimensions, their roles and relations to each other as well as the pre-requisites to take into consideration in the development of new services. Thus, the different NSD dimensions should not solely be viewed as isolated dimensions; instead, there is a need for LSPs to have a holistic view and understanding of the NSD activities’ reciprocity.Another main result concerns the adaption of the NSD framework to green service development. The results reveal some pre-requisites relevant for LSPs to consider in their efforts to develop green service offerings and are summarised in the following main dimensions:Creating green awareness in the NSD culture – encourage participation regarding green initiatives within the organisation, defining a “common picture” in order to facilitate collaboration efforts and knowledge exchange concerning green expertise. The support from top management was also identified of having an influencing impact. Defining the strategic approach of green service offerings – integrate a green concern in the overall business strategy and to define the strategic role and incentives for developing green service offerings. The results also suggest LSPs to adapt green NSD efforts to different business contexts and market possibilities to match existing resources and skills with customers’ green requirements, and to perform a segmentation of customers’ environmental work and ambitions to increase the understanding of customers’ green attitudes and requirements.Create processes and routines to facilitate spreading of green knowledge – highlights the relevance of a process focus for spreading green knowledge both from an external and internal perspective. It involves e.g. adoption of certifications, procedures for environmental calculations and documentation as well as routines to spread and integrate green knowledge among employees as well as identification of customers’ green requirements.Improve green internal knowledge and build green collaborations – provide training and education to increase the level of green awareness and knowledge among employees as well as customers and strive for collaboration efforts both internally and externally to utilise each other’s knowledge and resources towards the development of green service offerings.Increase transparency of green information both internally and externally – improve green information transparency to build both internal and external trust and increase possibilities to effectively use other actors’ knowledge and resources to develop environmental improvements in the supply chain. Integration of IT expertise and synchronisations of IT systems to facilitate and support environmental work and development of green service offerings.