Special Issue "Role of Third- and Fourth-Party Logistics Providers to Support Sustainable Development Goals in Developing Countries"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 March 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andrea Appolloni
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via Columbia, 2, Rome 00133, Italy
Interests: supply chain management; sourcing & procurement in the public and private sector; e-procurement; sustainable and green procurement/sourcing; sustainable global sourcing; sustainable development and corporate social responsibility
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Assoc. Prof. K. Mathiyazhagan
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amity School of Engg., & Tech (ASET), Amity University, Sector 125, Noida - 201313, Uttar Pradesh, India
Interests: Productions & Operations Management; Green & Sustainable Supply Chain; Lean Manufacturing; Sustainable Lean Manufacturing; Third Party Logistics; Public Distribution System; Lean Six-Sigma; Block chain & Industry 4.0
Assist. Prof. Vernika Agarwal
Guest Editor
Amity International Business School, Amity University, Sector 125, Noida – 201313, UP, India
Interests: supply chain management; optimization; multi-riteria decision making; engineering; applied; computational mathematics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The increasing level of complexity within the global supply chain (SC) is pushing companies to be more agile and to meet faster shipping demands and react to changes in demand patterns within the economies (Govindan et al., 2019). To enhance the service at a lower cost, most companies prefer to outsource their logistic and coordination tasks to external companies which have specific expertise to perform various activities in an SC (Govindan et al., 2019). This enables the organization to focus on a smaller set of strategic decisions for its core competencies and outsource the remaining activities (Mathiyazhagan and Bhalotia, 2018). A third party logistics provider (3PL) works simultaneously with a number of companies, thereby getting the advantage of economies of scale, and that advantage can lead to cost reduction for the firm. The growth of global SC has led to organizations outsourcing not only the management of logistics activities but their execution as well. Broadly, the fourth-party logistics (4PL) provider essentially takes 3PL a step further by managing resources, technology, infrastructure, and even external 3PLs to design, build, and provide SC solutions for businesses. Considering the growth of data analytics and big data along the supply chain, 3PLs and 4PLs have started investing in predictive analytics to meet this changing scenario. Moreover, the inclusion of effective “last mile” due to the growth of e-commerce and omnichannel distribution has also led to tremendous opportunities for logistics providers. In this context, identification and selection of 3PLs and 4PLs is crucial for achieving a smooth logistics network.

In addition to faster delivery and coordination, climatic protection is actively pursued by industries as a means to be environmentally friendly (Hristov et al., 2019). For the logistics industry as such, which is strongly affected by rising fuel prices, more sustainable business activities mean not only a reduction of carbon emissions and cost savings in economic terms, but also opportunities to highlight value creation (Jovčić et al., 2019). Thus, the transformation of management along the entire SC needs integrated logistics solutions. Understanding the requirements of the logistics partners is required to promote the development of innovative, integrative business models based on a strategic roadmap (Björklund and Forslund, 2019). In the case of outsourcing, another crucial aspect is the inclusion of societal implications of the logistics industry. With the major literature focusing on optimization of logistics (economic aspect) and the ecological impact in terms of emission, the focus on people or the social aspect is very low. Indeed, the majority of the literature has focused on the selection of logistics partners while not addressing the proactive and design-oriented capabilities of logistics to contribute to a sustainability transformation within the frame of alternative sustainable SC. Hence, the aim of the present Special Issue is to understand the transformation potentials leading to pathways for sustainable logistics business models. Accordingly, the following research questions guide the Special Issue:

  • How can we play a proactive role in managing the logistics network while considering environmental sustainability?
  • How can we balance economic viability of the logistics outsourcing partners while simultaneously aiming for environmental and social performance targets?
  • How can we choose 3PL/4PL that are able to ensure environmental stability and comply with government regulations?
  • What are the major performance metrics of evaluation needed for choosing logistics partner outsourcing?

Sustainability will release a Special Issue dedicated to assessing the role of 3PL and 4PL providers to support Sustainability Development Goals in developing nations. As the Guest Editors, we are pleased to invite you to contribute to this Special Issue. Both conceptual and real-life case study papers are welcome.

Examples of contents include but are not limited to:

  • Identification of sustainability characteristics for the 3PL, 3PRL, and/or 4PL approach;
  • Approaches fortTransportation planning processes using third- or fourth-party providers;
  • Mixed-method approaches for sustainable transportation outsourcing;
  • Sustainability analysis of logistics partners using real-life case studies and tailored solutions;
  • Development of new indicators and guidelines for selection of 3PL, 4PL, and 3PRLP to include the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic viability, and social equity;
  • Collaborative logistics planning through 3PL, 3PRL, and 4PL providers for enhancing value chain;
  • Functional logistics integration in supply chains and competitive advantages of businesses;
  • Collaborative logistics planning through 3PL and 4PL for supply chain flexibility and quick response;
  • Information Technology tools and applications for operating third- and fourth-party logistics (3PL and 4PL) systems.

Some of the quality extended papers will be considered from FLAME - 2020 (2nd International Conference on Future Learning Aspects of Mechanical Engineering (FLAME - 2020) 5th – 7th August 2020) as per the special issue theme. FLAME 2020 is organizing by the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amity School of Engineering & Technology, Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India" For more details, please see this https://www.amity.edu/flame2020/default.asp.

Prof. Andrea Appolloni
Assoc. Prof. K. Mathiyazhagan
Assist. Prof. Vernika Agarwal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • 4PL
  • 3PL
  • 3PRL
  • Sustainability
  • Supply chain management
  • Transportation planning
  • Case study
  • Multi Criteria decision making

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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