Collaboration may not always be the key for “greener” logistics

2020-10-28 

Why does the logistics industry fail to achieve its environmental goals despite the abundance of technological solutions available, asks Amer Jazairy, researcher in sustainable logistics at the University of Gävle.

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According to Amer Jazairy, both buyers and providers of logistics services strive for environmental sustainability in their relationships, but they often misunderstand each other. Green demands from buyers can, for example, be too specific, contradictory or impossible to fulfil by the logistics service providers.

“For such reasons, we tend to quickly draw the conclusion that collaboration between these two actors is the way forward for greener logistics. However, our research shows that collaboration may not always be the key”, says Amer Jazairy.

We need to understand the conditions of collaboration

Amer Jazairy and his colleagues at the University of Gävle identified two different types of collaborations. One type is characterised by strategic long-term agreements, where specific investments are made for a particular relationship. The other type focuses on the exchange of knowledge and information between the two actors. Their research shows that certain green logistics practices may only require the first type of collaboration, whereas others may only require the second. Some, however, require both.

Amer Jazairy

Amer Jazairy

“Investing in fleets that are powered by alternative fuels may only require long-term agreements to secure their return on investments—given the tight profit margins witnessed in the logistics industry today. However, in the large logistics centres that are now being constructed around our cities, collaboration on knowledge exchange appears to be the one in need. For instance, integrating IT systems to gain live data on delivery-pick up points, alongside sharing knowledge on route optimisation and enhanced fill-rates in trucks, may help both partners in greening these centres.”

“Collaboration can even be costly”

If the two actors engage in the “wrong” type of collaboration, the consequences can be costly, Amer claims, as this might entail unnecessary commitments in binding agreements and intensified communication and integration efforts between the actors.

– So care is required before we collaborate!

“This is the first time that we researchers argue that collaboration may not always be preferred for greener logistics. More isn’t always better, it depends entirely on the type of green logistics practice at hand”, Amer Jazairy concludes.

Amer Jazairy defended his doctoral dissertation "Engaging in green logistics - An eye on shippers, logistics service providers and their interaktions" on 2 October 2020 at KTH in Stockholm.

Contact

Amer Jazairy, PhD in industrial engineering and management at the University of Gävle
phone: 070-313 67 36
E-mail:
amrjai@hig.se

 

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo Amer Jazairy: Private

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Veronica Liljeroth Updated: 2020-10-29
Högskolan i Gävle
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