Original Research

Third-party logistics providers’ strategic development in Sweden: Learning from a crisis

Benedikte Borgstrom, Susanne Hertz, Leif-Magnus Jensen, Elvira Kaneberg
Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management | Vol 16 | a838 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jtscm.v16i0.838 | © 2022 Benedikte Borgstrom, Susanne Hertz, Leif-Magnus Jensen, Elvira Kaneberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 September 2022 | Published: 15 November 2022

About the author(s)

Benedikte Borgstrom, Department of Urban Studies, Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden
Susanne Hertz, Department of Business Administration, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
Leif-Magnus Jensen, Department of Supply Chain and Operations Management, School of Engineering, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
Elvira Kaneberg, Department of Business Administration, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden; and, Hanken HUMLOG Humanitarian Logistics, The Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Research Institute, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract

Background: The enacted sensemaking of third-party logistics (TPL) providers during the pandemic crisis may present an opportunity to explore their strategic operations.

Objectives: The aim is to understand the TPL strategic implications related to a crisis and specifically how TPL providers make sense of and respond to crises. The two research questions are as follows: How has the COVID-19 pandemic crisis affected the business operations of TPL providers? What have TPL providers learnt from enacting the crisis, and how has this experience affected their strategic development?

Method: We conduct an abductive study using combined data from interviews and a targeted archive search. The data are focused on the Swedish context and on a period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: Three distinct groups of TPL providers have different sense and action processes impacting their business operations. This research shows how an understanding of servitisation is relevant for TPL theory. Finally, we develop the strategic perspective of TPL providers by defining TPL providers as value-cocreating relationships that can help manage the complexities of logistics services.

Conclusion: This research shows that TPL providers play an important role in crises, as they contribute to solving customer problems. This role appears to be strengthened during crises, but it imposes great demands on TPL providers.

Contribution: Third-party logistics providers work with their customers during crises. The sensemaking view emphasises the importance of personnel, organisational commitment, capacity and expectations during crises. This is an interplay that requires adaptation to short-term changes in operational processes and adaptability in long-term operations.


Keywords

enacted sensemaking; strategy; organising; value cocreation; qualitative

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