Disentangling the Driving Factors of Logistics Outsourcing: A Configurational Perspective

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how external pressures, internal capability and transaction attributes of logistics outsourcing synergically influence the extent of asset-based and non-asset-based logistics outsourcing.

Design/methodology/approach: Based on the data surveyed from 250 manufacturing companies in China, this study employed fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to deduce multiple configurations for logistics outsourcing decisions.

Findings: The results suggest that asset-based logistics outsourcing is primarily driven by external imitation pressures or internal demands for logistics technologies, while non-asset-based logistics outsourcing is mainly driven by the demands for external management-based logistics services. Asset specificity plays a positive role in promoting both asset-based and non-asset-based logistics outsourcing. The requirement for third-party logistics (3PL) management capability depends on the outsourcing types and outsourcing causes.

Practical implications: This study provides guidance to practitioners for them to make outsourcing decisions. It suggests that asset-based logistics outsourcing is more appropriate when there are high external imitation pressures or more internal logistics demands, while non-asset-based logistics outsourcing should be used only when a firm needs management-based logistics services. Besides, 3PL users are suggested to outsource their logistics when their 3PL providers are required to make specific investments. In addition, managers should carefully evaluate firms’ capabilities in managing outsourcing relationships.

Originality/value: Previous studies largely ignored the interaction effects of a set of factors on logistics outsourcing decisions, and to date, little research empirically examined how outsourcing is driven in terms of different types of outsourcing. Drawing on the institutional theory, dynamic capability view, and transaction cost theory and overarching under the complexity theory, this study examines how institutional, organizational and transactional factors interplay with each other to influence different types of logistics outsourcing (i.e. asset based and non-asset based). Methodologically, the configural analysis (i.e. fsQCA) is applied to explore complex causal configurations that drive logistics outsourcing.

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Journal of Enterprise Information Management





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