Sustainable Distribution Networks

Donatas Zavtrikovas & Klajv Cene

Student thesis: Master thesis


The impact of supply chains and logistics operations on environment and society has been addressed and emphasized in the academic literature. Several studies have contributed the research of sustainability with multiple competing theories. However, a gap between sustainability theories and an actual implementation in Supply Chain Management is evident. The main focus of this paper is on Distribution Network Design. It was argued that it is imperative for companies to not only have efficient, but sustainable distribution networks. The research aim is to create an applicable framework for companies to design a sustainable distribution network. To address the research, an extensive literature review is conducted in order to enrich the understanding of current practices in network configuration. The paper combines works of Montabon et al, Pagh and Cooper, Christopher, and other authors in conducting a comprehensive theoretical analysis on multiple theories with the aim of constructing a framework for designing a sustainable distribution network. The framework prompts companies to consider 8 main factors consisting of a total of 23 determinants that account for the product, market and demand characteristics as well as environmental, social and economic impact. Economically Dominant logic and Triple Bottom Line are proposed as rival theories to address the sustainability aspect. A Danish manufacturing company, Nilfisk, has contributed this research as an empirical example. This company performs extensive operations in European region and has faced issues with the distribution network. A consent was established to use Nilfisk empirical data to enrich the understanding of the proposed framework and assess any challenges that might arise from the use of such framework. The analysis discovered that the Ecologically Dominant logic cannot be applied on distribution operations due to the infancy of the technologies needed to address challenging sustainability efforts. Triple Bottom Line has concluded the analysis by proposing a sustainable distribution network configuration for Nilfisk that equally respects the considerations of economy, society and environment factors. Finally, further research is suggested and the paper is concluded with the discussion of the managerial implications.

EducationsMSc in Supply Chain Management , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages156
SupervisorsBritta Gammelgaard