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The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic literature review and contributes to academic understanding and practitioner needs of third party logistics (3PL) which were developed over the past decade.Design/methodology/approachThrough a structured selection search of the entire English-language academic literature, after final refinement, the authors identified 95 relevant studies in this context. A succinct classification of literature has been performed to collate the entire literature encompassing viewpoints of both academicians and practitioners.FindingsThe key finding of this review suggests the opportunities exist in the understanding of the “optimization capabilities” of a 3PL provider. The authors found that when on the one side, constructs such as “supply chain vision”, “creativity”, “impact of geographical reach of services on the selection criteria” need more attention; on the other hand, operational dimensions of 3PL such as packaging ability, repair service, procedural compliance, conflict resolution, role of HR policies and mitigation of external risks provides a chance for future researchers to delve deeper into these domains. Furthermore, the authors also presented a comprehensive research gap framework highlighting potential research topics to be explored in near future.Research limitations/implicationsThe paper captures peer-reviewed literature from the past decade and has been selected from the Web of Science database only.Originality/valueThe paper identifies different research gaps, namely, conceptual, contextual and methodological, to understand and develop opportunities for future research in the domain of 3PL. The paper makes a careful attempt by linking the synthesis of this literature review to previous literature reviews to establish the knowledge continuum of third party logistics.
Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 15, 2018
Keywords: Qualitative; Literature review; Logistics outsourcing; Supply chain management; Transport; Third party logistics
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