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Reverse resource exchanges in service supply chains: the case of returnable transport packaging

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/05/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Supply Chain Management: An International Journal
Issue number3
Volume21
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)381-397
Publication statusPublished
Early online date4/01/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose – The paper seeks to understand how reverse resource exchanges and resource
dependencies are managed in the service supply chain (SSC) of returnable transport packaging
(RTP).

Design/methodology/approach – A single case study was conducted in the context of
automotive logistics focusing on the RTP service supply chain. Data was collected through
sixteen (16) interviews primarily with managers of a logistics service provider (LSP) and
document analysis of contractual agreements with key customers of the packaging service.

Findings – Resource dependencies among actors in the SSC result from the importance of the
RTP for the customer’s production processes, the competition among users for RTP and the
negative implications of the temporary unavailability of RTP for customers and the LSP (in terms
of service performance). Amongst other things, the LSP is dependent on its customers and third
party users (e.g., the customer’s suppliers) for the timely return of package resources. The role
of inter-firm integration and collaboration, formal contracts, as well as customers’ power and
influence over third party RTP users are stressed as key mechanisms for managing LSP’s
resource dependencies.

Research limitations/implications – A resource dependence theory (RDT) lens is used to
analyse how reverse resource exchanges and associated resource dependencies in SSCs are
managed, thus complementing the existing SSC literature emphasising the bi-directionality of
resource flows. The study also extends the recent SSC literature stressing the role of
contracting by empirically demonstrating how formal contracts can be mobilised to explicate
resource dependencies and to specify, and regulate, reverse exchanges in the SSC.

Practical implications – The research suggests that logistics providers can effectively manage
their resource dependencies and regulate reverse exchanges in the SSC by deploying
contractual governance mechanisms and leveraging their customers’ influence over third party
RTP users.

Originality/value – The study is novel in its application of RDT, which enhances our
understanding of the management of reverse exchanges and resource dependencies in SSCs.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.