A qualitative assessment of digitalisation adoption for sustainable Third-party Logistics operations through the Technology, Organizational, and Environmental (TOE) framework.


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding (ISBN)peer-review


Purpose - Digitalisation and sustainability are two major phenomenon that have become increasingly dominant at the global, national, and institutional levels of the ecosystem. Although they are distinct concepts in themselves, the increasing pressure on firms to comply with sustainability requirements while creating and capturing value in competitive business environments necessitates joint consideration of these dimension to understand how their divergence or convergence could impact firms. The logistics and transport sector operates in a dynamic environment with changing customer requirement, sustainability challenges, technological advancements, increasing risks and uncertainty, complex ecosystems etc. Consequently, the impact of digitalisation and sustainability requirements is a complex puzzle which requires in-depth investigation in a joined-up manner to understand the opportunities or challenges they bring to the sector.

Research Approach - The study employs rich qualitative research from an epistemological stance which enabled researchers to engage with the real world of a global logistics company to examine and analyse primary research findings from the sector as explained by the research participants. The qualitative methodology comprised semi-structured interviews and archival information to deliver rich findings. The findings are analysed using the technology, organizational, and environmental (TOE) framework to examine the impact of digital technology on the sustainable logistics operations in the 3PL sector.

Findings and Originality -
The interview findings demonstrated that digitalisation influences sustainability from a triple bottom line (TBL) perspective. Therefore, practitioners must adopt a holistic perspective to sustainability, beyond the economic focus. All components of sustainability are important, especially with the global call for sustainable practices to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner, greener future.

Research Impact -
This makes a research contribution by applying the TOE framework specifically to logistics industry to validate its appropriateness to assess the sustainability impact of digitalisation in the sector. In addition, it demonstrated the interaction between the environment, economic and social dimensions of the TBL to argue that environmental stewardship and social equity are critical components that must be achieved alongside economic viability to achieve corporate sustainability. This study also contributes to the incipient areas focussing on the convergence of the digitalisations and sustainability to achieve sustainability advantage through sustainable logistics operations.

Practical Impact
This study supports managers in the logistics industry in strategic and operational decision-making by evidencing how digitalisation impact sustainability under the three components of the TBL. Sustainability ideas and digitalisation are often considered in isolation. However, this study argues the case for mainstream alignment of TBL sustainability considerations along with digitalisation approaches to maximise, create and capture sustainable value. This will enable mangers to define how their operations contribute to sustainability practices, while returning shareholder benefits
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLogistics Research Network Conference
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2023
EventCILT Logistics Research Network Conference 2023: Supply Chain Sustainability: building sustainable supply chains through people, process improvement and the effective deployment of technology - Heriot-Watt University , Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sept 20238 Sept 2023


ConferenceCILT Logistics Research Network Conference 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Digitalisation
  • Sustainability
  • Logistics sector, dynamic capability theory, absorptive capacity theory.


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