An Exploration of Institutional Pressures on Urban Logistics Service Providers and Their Strategies: A Multiple-case Study on Urban Logistics Service Providers in Copenhagen

Anniken Winther

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose – The purpose of the thesis is to explore the institutional pressures that logistics service providers operating in urban Copenhagen experience, as well as the strategic approaches they employ in managing such pressures. In addition to seeking insights about the individual cases, the study also aims at understanding the commonalities across them, which is used in a comparison with the theory on urban freight transport environmental pressures and management approaches in the US by Rose et al. (2016).
Design/Methodology/Approach – Through an exploratory, abductive approach, a multiple-case study has been conducted in order to obtain greater understanding of the phenomenon of institutional pressures on urban logistics service providers in the specific context of Copenhagen. Semi-structured interviews serve as the main source of data, which are thematically analyzed to explore the main themes of each case. These insights are supplemented with information from document sources.
Findings – Interviews with several actors in the urban freight transport sector in Copenhagen showed that logistics service providers experience pressures from both physical and social parts of their environment. The physical pressures include restricted space, congested infrastructure, and poor access to shops. The social pressures come from authorities, competitors, customers, and citizens, who all have different objectives and interests in urban freight transport. Such pressures include regulations and requirements on environmental, safety, and CSR practices, expectations to deliver goods efficiently and at low prices, and exposure to best practice. In order to manage these pressures, urban logistics service providers choose between collaborating and influencing. The findings from the cases in Copenhagen differ from those of the US in that the focus of urban logistics service providers operating in the urban areas of Copenhagen to a greater extent lies on collaboration with other actors in order to find common solutions to challenges in the field, whereas firms in the US focus more approaches to managing physical constraints and lack of resources. Finally, the two studies differ slightly in the classification of the institutional pressures.
Implications – The findings are discussed in light of implications for business as well as implications for policy makers, two of the main actors in the field of urban freight management. Understanding which institutional pressures urban logistics service providers experience and how they manage these is a step to finding better solutions and planning transport and urban space holistically.

EducationsMSc in Supply Chain Management , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages209
SupervisorsBritta Gammelgaard