Purchasing green transport and logistics services: implications for small business
Keywords:Purchasing green transport and logistics services, company environmental ambitions, environmental purchasing function concerns, swedish, italian and irish buyer companies, case study analysis
AbstractConsidering its strong environmental impact, logistics plays a critical role in green supply chain management. It provides strategic links in the supply chain and is an essential function in the delivery of green products to the consumer. There is a general consensus on the fact that more environmentally sustainable companies may be achieved only if transport and logistics activities also become greener. To achieve this objective, buyer companies need to incorporate green considerations in the purchasing of transport and logistics services. This appears particularly challenging for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) because of their traditional lack of managerial, organisational and financial resources that often result in failure to adopt an environmental perspective. In the extant literature, green purchasing has received increased attention over the past decade and the strategic importance of introducing green aspects into purchasing practices has been recognised. However, little has been written in relation to purchasing green transport and logistics services. The aim of this paper is to explore practices in the buying of green transport and logistics services and to derive implications for small buyer companies. The paper analyses how general environmental company ambitions and environmental purchasing practices are reflected when green transport and logistics services are purchased in three different European countries (Italy, Ireland and Sweden) using a multiple case study research approach. The results of the paper indicate that while the case companies show a relatively high concern for green issues at corporate level, a lower importance is attributed to green issues at the purchasing function level. When green concerns in the purchasing of transport and logistics services are analysed the level of importance decreases further. Thus, a conflicting attitude is evident between the overall corporate level and the purchasing of transport and logistics services specifically. This suggests that there is potential for improvement especially in the area of green collaboration in buyer and supplier relationships.
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