Exploring how retail and logistics service provider managers make sense of sustainability in last mile delivery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


An increasing number of last mile deliveries (LMDs) pose many sustainability challenges that retailers and logistics service providers (LSPs) can address. Using cognitive frames (CFs) as a lens, this studyexplored how retail and LSP managers make sense of sustainable LMDs.

The methodological approach used is a multiple embedded case study. The data were obtained from interviews with retailers and LSPs, supplemented with secondary data for triangulation.

The findings present the operational aspects of LMDs that managers associate with sustainability and indicate that retail and LSP managers frame sustainability primarily as emission reduction. Managers indicate an externalization of responsibility and a compartmentalization of the supply chain, in which social
sustainability is not associated with the last mile. Most managers indicate hierarchical CFs regarding sustainability, in which sustainability is an important topic but is subordinate to economic interests.

Practical implications
Collaboration between retailers, LSPs and other stakeholders is viewed as challenging but could alleviate some of the sustainability shortcomings and aid in the paradoxical framing and inclusion of social issues.

A conceptualization of managerial CFs for sustainable LMDs, together with empirical frame indicators and three propositions, is presented, providing novel insights into how paradoxical CFs could make LMDs more sustainable. This approach illuminates the possibilities for how to untangle the operational
manifestations of managerial framing and adds to the empirical exploration of CFs in supply chain management.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Publication statusPublished - 26.02.2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Sensemaking
  • cognitive frames
  • environmental sustainability
  • Social sustainability
  • E-commerce
  • Urban logistics
  • multiple case study

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