Fourth Party Logistics in a Digital Future

Hans-Joachim Schramm, Carolin Nicole Czaja, Michael Dittrich, Matthias Mentschel

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferencebidrag i proceedingsForskningpeer review


Purpose: This paper aims at analysing the potential future of the 4PL concept based on expert opinions with special regard to the influence of digitalization. Service arrangements, provider capabilities and benefits resulting from a 4PL partnership are compared in current and future configurations.
Design/methodology/approach: The research follows a mixed methods approach with semi-structured interviews followed by an expert panel. This builds the basis for an online questionnaire to inquire on important future aspects for the 4PL concept by a sample of respondents from multinational companies.
Findings: Our results show a clear trend away from simply organising transportation and logistics activities towards the provision of an IT platform as well as further service activities such as planning, analytics and monitoring. Along with this, IT capabilities appear to be an important differentiator for 4PL providers in the future. Moreover, relationships between 4PL providers and their clients become closer and more strategic, which leads to a customer valuing not only direct cost reductions but rather improvements resulting from optimized operations through superior analysis and planning functions.
Research limitations/implications: The sampling frame is mainly focused on multinational companies with logistics operations in Western Europe, namely the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).
Practical implications: Our findings not only support 4PL providers in assessing ways of engaging with their potential customers but they also help their clients to understand how a 4PL provider could be a valuable partner in mastering the present digitalization of logistics activities.
Original/value: Based on the adoption of the 4PL concept today, this paper identifies opportunities for future 4PL providers with regard to input from different stakeholders.
TitelProceedings of the 29th Annual Nordic Logistics Research Network Conference. NOFOMA 2017
RedaktørerDaniel Hellström, Joakim Kembro, Hajnalka Bodnar
ISBN (Elektronisk)9789177533375
StatusUdgivet - 2017
BegivenhedThe 29th NOFOMA Conference 2017: Annual Nordic Logistics Research Network Conference - Lund Universitet, Lund, Sverige
Varighed: 8 jun. 20179 jun. 2017
Konferencens nummer: 29


KonferenceThe 29th NOFOMA Conference 2017: Annual Nordic Logistics Research Network Conference
LokationLund Universitet


  • Fourth-party logistics
  • Digitalization
  • IT capabilities