Critical Analysis of Fourth Party Logistic Providers (4PL’s) as Facilitators of Supply Chain Collaborations

The scope of modern distribution systems is surprisingly large in the globalized world. The main reason for this is the diverse demand of consumers, new technological developments and new institutional choices. Changes in the distribution system are creating new problems for businesses and suppliers of logistics services. Corporate business processes are often highly individualized in compliance with end-user criteria. Collaborative work with modern and more specialized types of logistics service providers can gain a competitive advantage compared with other businesses. The corporations outsourced individual administrative activities to minimize costs and improve income (3PL), but sometimes overlooked the need to enhance product and service quality. Thanks to creative solutions for building a whole supply chain, 4PL operators take a lead in the international logistics market steadily. In principle, 4PL operators integrate the supply chain with complementary service providers by collecting and managing their own business assets, capability and technology in order for a holistic supply chain solution to be provided (Anderson, 2013)
This essay analyzes the advantages of external logistics services through the emphasis on 4PLs, their growth, their role and their roles in modern business. The article provides a theoretical framework focused on 4PL studies in current empirical and theoretical literature. This paper presents a conceptual framework based on knowledge to truly understand the advantages of implementing 4PLs in modern businesses.
What is outsourcing?
Different authors have provided various concepts of externalization. Handfield (2006) notes that “the tactical use of foreign assets for activities typically controlled by internal staff and resources” may be described as “the outsourcing.” Outsourcing is a technique also known as “facility management,” through which a company performs important functions for specialist, reliable service providers that are trusted business partners. Outsourcing is the strategical use of external resources, usually controlled by internal staff, to conduct business functions. Use an outsourced business to cut costs and make more effective use of third-party supplier resources, software, and expertise.
Enterprises always employ contractors with respect to specific types of work or to level-off peaks and troughs, establishing long-term relationships with enterprises with their own complementary or complementary abilities. Nonetheless, the distinction is that the aforementioned requires significant consolidation of specific business operations, as well as the transfer of employees from a host company to a specialized organization with the necessary business objectives (Kalinzi, 2016).
4PL studies date back to the late 1990s when, in development, design and execution of integrated supply chain approaches, Gattorna first presented the 4PL concept in terms of capital, capacity and technology integration (Subramanian, Gunasekaran, Papadopoulos, & Nie, 2016). In the last ten years however, the 4PL research has been illustrated. Andersen Consulting (later Accenture) coined the word 4PL as a supply chain integrator who, together with the supplier, assembles and administers its assets, expertise and software in its organization in order to provide an integrated supply chain solution. According to Win (2008, p. 675), 4PL seem to provide a special obligation for both supply and demand chains to companies around the world and from a different industry. the rewarding operation of 4PL integrates means of a supply chain reasonably, efficiently and flexibly (Yao, 2010). Papadopoulou et al. (2013) examine the continuous development of 4PLs in a supply chain and underline their revolutionary design. I understand that through the years diverse writers have acquired an opinion on 4PL terms and services, the definition was developed and enriched 4PL. Pavlić Skender’s and Grčić Fabić’s subsequent research (2017, 102) identify 4PL as a distinct entity operating as a partnership or a long-term relationship between the primary customer and one or several of its partners. 4PL serves as an intermediary between consumers and various suppliers of logistics. However, work on 4PLs has earned many attention as it is very difficult to turn and adapt to the logistics market.

The Outsourcing Process
There have been limited research on externalization processes and how the role is done in outsourcing organizations. In Zoran & Jørgen (2007), there is only a small amount of structures that show actual phases and structure of the overall outsource system, given the extraordinary research strength of the outsourcing process. We identify key phases: planning, choice of vendors, change, management and revision.
The planning process includes replying to questions like how, where, why, how, whether or not. The next step in the selection of suppliers is simple in dealing with the key issue which a identified and qualified pool of possible providers must select and not choose. The next move will discuss how connections with the authorized service provider can be handled. In the late stage, the outcome of the entire process is analyzed and the what-shall-come-next question is discussed.

Outsourcing of the logistics sector
Modern business models are distinguished by the extensive use and dependency of the services offered by various experts who perform a variety of logistics tasks. Distribution systems heterogeneity has been followed by an improvement in knowledge in the distribution network and, subsequently, the sophistication of it (Jensen, 2010). The use of 3PLs, i.e. Contractual Logistics Services (Shahraki & Yazdanpour 2013), is one way to expand a logistics organization beyond the boundaries of a client.
Logistics companies recognized that their performance depended not only on themselves but on a network of partners able to offer them new skills and innovations. The most popular services in outsourcing are transportation and processing, according to State of Logistics (2016). Given the shift in the market, the need for conventional transmission services still plays a key role in outsourcing. The pioneer in local and international shipping, processing and freight forwarding is the supply chain consultancy services and the 4PL division. In many cases, therefore, businesses do not rely on logistics providers for the contractor and management. On the logistics market, the benefits of 4PL outsourcing remain unknown.
Given that the use of 4PL for a large number of businesses is relatively new, both an understanding interest and a need to validate the use of the 4PL supplier for each client company is always necessary for every company (Win, 2008). Papadopoulou (2013) suggests instead that supply chain provider “one-stop shop” should be engaged by logistics operators. We should therefore extend their business range by depending continuously on state-of – the-art technology, concentrating on customer needs, strengthening customer relations and gradually being 4PL operators. The need for one-stop service providers is there, according to the Global Logistics Report 2016 (Gerner, 2017).
Soinio, Tanskanen and Finne (2012) address how a more streamlined supply chain system promotes the pattern of outsourcing logistics providers. Such processes need a number of services, including logistical information, organizational expertise and collaborations to help actively engage in the implementation of the supply chain. Alterations in the business context, increased competition and cost reductions are often suggested as reason for the strategic partnerships and the resulting need to restructure the supply chains (Selviaridis & Spring, 2007). Logistics operators tend to increase their role in developing and extending their ties with customers, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of operations and services provided by them (Soinio, Tanskanen and Finn, 2012)
4PLs ‘ core features and evolution
The 4PL theory demonstrates a desire to outsource supply chain management to the new generation. While it was discussed in academic circles some time ago, this concept stays sadly only a theory. But the recent research verified its significant value, which in contemporary business can contribute to a better competitive advantage. For businesses to reflect their logistics outsourcing strategies and change their supply chains, this is a good reason. Because logistics service providers have been largely shaped in the corporate world, it is necessary to understand the trends, the prospects and the complexities of 4PLs by entrepreneurs, consultants, logistical experts, managers and academics (Cherneva and Voigir, 2015).
Nonetheless, 4PLs often have greater assets management ability and can enable businesses to cope with the difficulty of high requirements by optimizing the supply network (Govindan, Khodaverdi and Vafadarnjikjoo, 2016). Likewise, 4PL covers all supply chain firms. Many tasks are organized, managed and regulated by a service provider with long-term strategic objectives, for all logistics activities (e.g. information, supplies, capital flux). Such companies are generally 3PL operators who incorporate or form alliances to provide products with those features. 4PLs improve these partnerships with greater integration and participation of various partners in the establishment of a logistics partnership (Sahay, 2006). The 4PL provider is impartial and handles the distribution system irrespective of the owners, shippers or stores it is hired. As a result, 4PLs have become practical solutions to outsourcing business structures by combining multiple businesses. 4PL clients must focus on key skills to control and leverage their company’s assets and resources. 4PL is seen as a reliable ally rather than a supply chain tactical integrater that reconstructs and handles one’s own organization’s assets, capable of providing a complementary supplies chain solution with complementary service providers (Mukhopadhyay & Setaputra, 2006)
Of example, 4PL connections evolve from a 3PL partnership, which means that 4PL have a wider role in the supply chain. 4PL have much more responsibility for helping the customer meet its strategic objectives and transparency. Figure 4 demonstrates the design and conversion phases of conventional 3PL into 4PL for logistic provider UPS Logistics in order to understand the evolution of the 4PL. 4PL is a common interface between the customer and various logistics service providers. The 4PL company manages all facets of the supply chain of the consumer (Reese, 2014).
Organizations may better incorporate a single partner to assess, plan, develop, execute and calculate comprehensive integrated supply chain solutions. The main difference from 4PL to other manufacturers is a common expertise to provide a customer with quality throughout the supply chain. The 4PL strategy allows the current in-house activities to offer a distinct viewpoint, expertise and technology.
Offshoring – A type of Outsourcing
Offshoring is a mechanism for the acquisition of all business tasks, processes ou functions from abroad (especially from low-cost emerging economies), according to Manning, Massini and Lewin (2008). The outsourcing, the BPO and the shared service sectors are influenced by technology. Technology does the greater part of the work of an organisation, but it is always possible for anyone to do this if the research can be carried out anywhere. Typically, non-core operations in developing countries by Western companies are made feasible because of cheaper labor. As Offshore Outsourcing began, cost saving was the main focus of the Outsourcer, and corporations outsourced their non-core operations and controlled their processes while saving enormous costs. The implementation of “lift & move,” which included finding cost-effective sites and switching the processes from non-core to those areas, was thus called BPO 1.0.
Benefits of Outsourcing
Essel et al (2019) argues, that many companies will still have to tackle future market trends, distribution chain issues, consumer needs, competing threats, international alternatives, new opportunities, technological development, and resource demands more rapidly, correctly and extensively in order to maintain their profitability and relevance. With all of this in many organizations, management needs to accurately determine the expertise, performance, resourceworthiness, workload flexibility and available talent pools of its procurement staff. In other cases, many organizations may need to “think” about existing resources and acknowledge the possible outsourcing benefits mentioned below.
There are many benefits of outsourcing. Of example, outsourcing helps companies to create and recruit the best specialist professionals. The use of outsourcing often allows businesses to retain more money, enabling assets for other uses, including investments to infrastructure. In terms of wages and perks, it is also often less costly and decreases costs and risks. Outsourcing can also allow an organization to concentrate on its core elements and support roles without interruption.
Speed and nimbleness are another benefit–for example that of Smith & Company. Often recruiting a professional to do something is faster and more efficient than getting a business to speed up. Most big businesses use outsourcing to fulfill tasks that are too costly or impractical to develop. Smaller businesses often outsource, although sometimes cost savings are reduced. A collection of outsourcing benefits including time, asset experience, pace, and financial rewards, were illustrated in Essel et al (2019).
Cost Saving – Major Advantage of Outsourcing
The vast difference in prices was one of the main advantages of outsourcing in the early years. Through charging less than half the standard pay in wages to their offshore outsourcing partners, businesses have been able to significantly reduce their total expenses. In the late 90’s, some procurement analysts predicted efficiencies would no longer be the main benefit of outsourcing because living costs and technological advancement would be lower. But the financial difficulties created by the recession of 2008-2009 have increased the overall perception of cost savings. One of the main reasons for outsourcing to India remains uncertain about the economic recovery.
Success factors of outsourcing
Some more considerations are to be addressed during and after the outsourcing process in order to ensure the success of using contract logistics. The first thing that needs to be done is for the decision to externalize. Cooperation between logistic users and suppliers is also of great importance in this regard, and this is important for the management of internal business functions and outsourced logistics. Organizations should make their position and obligations, standards and specifications clearly defined for service providers (Richardson, 1990).
Management must be assured that outsourcing is checked and seen as a strategic business. The outsourcing success depends on a partnership between consumer and provider based on mutual faith and trust (Bradley 1994). Management must be encouraged to innovate and consider outsourcing as a tactical operation. The outsourcing success depends on a partnership between consumers and providers based on mutual trust and faith. This does not mean that regulations are redundant; businesses must allow the service providers to report regularly. There is a need for the intelligent choice of third parties and control when building confidence. The internal controls that connect all transactions to invoice, lading bill or purchase orders shall be applied to any deal (Bradley 1994). One important aspect of successful outsourcing is that customers are able to do so. Nor should we neglect the importance of the human factor in externalization. The organization should include those who provide logistics services, as their experience makes the transition from in-house to third-party logistics simpler.
Of addition, when outsourcing is introduced, they must be given the opportunity to pass through the function and show the importance of it. Nonetheless, it can lead current employees to manipulate the system because of the fear that they might be retired because of the outsourcing of a feature (Maltz & Ellram, 1999). The different connections between the parties involved are the performance criteria required to establish stable relationships in the field of contract logistics. In this field it is particularly important to have an open and honest setting, key management, consistent and efficient internal measuring system, mutual respect and compassion, investment commitments and financial and business structures. For Razzaque (1998), it is clear that a high level of engagement and agreement on the part of the buying companies is necessary to make contractual logistics work. Each of these performance factors must be objectively evaluated by management to see how they are applied. Only then should businesses eventually take use of outsourcing and develop long-term relationships that illustrate the many benefits that third-party logistics can achieve.
Advantages of Logistic Outsourcing
The most common benefit of the outsourcing is the lower logistics costs of the business (Bonifant, 1995). Bradley (1994) notes the productivity of logistics providers than a producer, as logistics is their main business. This can be seen in various ways. Specialized results and the effective use of core competences also result in lower costs of production. In addition, shortfalls are not apparent until the product is generated on-site and thus not subjected to competition are removed (Bigger, 1999)
Savings in size and scope arising from higher volumes of equivalent or comparable logistics products that an LSP offers and the higher utilization rate of the capital employed can also help to lower costs in production. However, logistics service providers can better manage diverse market conditions than a single production business by expanding its consumer portfolios and reducing labor costs by taking advantage of lower wages compared with those in manufacturing sectors.
The outsourcing of logistics often directly influences a company’s cost position due to a decreased capital investment demand. Richardson (1990) points out the potential to minimize investments in infrastructure, while Sheffi (1990) says the expensive costs of information technology could be avoided by outsourcing it to a supplier of logistics services. However, the outsourcing of logistics often enables staff and related expenses to be through.
The above effects deriving from the decline in expenditure in capital allow a company to provide just the needed logistics services and to turn the logistics resources, which were previously fixed costs, into operating expenses. Nonetheless, the logistics procurement has a few more advantages for the company as well as all those multiple possible cost savings. In the last few years in particular.

The radical change in the logistics industry and the increasing sophistication of customer need cooperation with advanced logistics service providers, new technological developments and new organizing possibilities. One is a fourth party provider for logistics (4PL). Because of innovative solutions for the development of a whole supply chain, 4PL operators take the lead. Even though the fourth party logistics contractor definition is fairly lengthy in academic research, the benefits of contracting 4PLs in the logistics sector are not adequately recognized. The essay offers a conceptual framework based on knowledge for a better understanding of the benefits of 4PLs integrated into modern companies. The introduction of a 4PL approach allows the current internal operations to have a clear perspective, expertise and technologies, and thus future research can be expanded by applying both qualitative and quantitative methods to the evaluation of the effect of the fourth-party logistics supplier on the defining quality of companies.

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