Tragedy of the Facilitated Commons: A Multiple Case Study of Failure in Systematic Horizontal Logistics Collaborations

Henrik Sternberg*, Isidro Linan, Günter Prockl, Andreas Norrman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

98 Downloads (Pure)


Horizontal logistics collaboration can increase environmental sustainability and reduce shipping costs. Given these benefits—and the fact that few shippers actually opt to collaborate—public sector agencies and industry associations have attempted to sponsor and support the facilitation of horizontal logistics collaboration projects over the past 20 years. The literature, however, has yet to reveal the fact that these efforts have largely failed. Here, we introduce systematic horizontal logistics collaboration and apply Ostrom’s theory of the commons and agency theory to extract antecedents on why these projects failed. We present a multiple case study on unsuccessful horizontal logistics collaboration projects in Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. We address a gap in supply chain literature with regard to systematic collaboration; we also demonstrate the utility of commons theory in the supply chain domain and contribute to the literature on supply chain collaboration with facilitators. Finally, we discuss managerial implications, both for the practitioners attempting systematic horizontal logistics collaboration and for the policymakers seeking to promote it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)30-57
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Collaboration failure
  • Systematic horizontal logistics collaboration
  • Theory of the commons
  • Multiple case study
  • Outside facilitation

Cite this