Towards sustainable freight transportation - Evidence from the logistics sector

Pinja Raitasuo

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Transportation is one of the sectors emitting the most greenhouse gases worldwide. To protect the environment, more attention must be paid to energy efficiency in the transport sector. From an environmental point of view, rail transport is more efficient than road transport over long distances. Thus, one way to make logistics greener is to shift from road transportation to intermodal road and rail transportation. The European Commission has included this objective in its agenda for years. However, despite the EU's efforts, the proportion of rail transport is still rather low in Europe. In order to understand sustainable transport, it is necessary to take a closer look at logistics service providers (LSPs): the companies to which transportation and logistics services are being increasingly outsourced. This thesis has two aims. First, to explore LSPs' opinions, experiences and actions regarding environmentally sustainable transport. Second, to investigate how institutional theory and the resource-based view of the firm can explain the external and internal forces that influence the adoption of environmentally friendly business practises. Institutional theory explains how desire for social legitimacy leads firms to conform to norms of institutionalised sustainability. Thus, it can extend the understanding of the external forces that push logistics companies towards environmental sustainability. Although companies may experience various pressures to adopt sustainable business practises, external forces are not necessarily the only reasons to move towards sustainability. Companies may also adopt sustainable business practises when it is economically viable to be green or because they possess special green capabilities. This issue is addressed using the resource-based view. The research methodology includes quantitative and qualitative research methods. The survey data were collected from Finnish, Russian, Panamian and Puerto Rican LSPs and Structural Equation Modeling was used to analyze the data. The qualitative interview data were collected from Finnish logistics sector. The empirical results suggest that LSPs experience external pressures to adopt environmental business practises. These pressures come from various sources, such as: customers, regulation, competitors and industrial associations. However, the results indicate that environmental actions lead to better environmental and economic performance.
Translated title of the contributionKohti ympäristöystävällisempiä rahtikuljetuksia – Näkemyksiä logistiikkasektorilta
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Kuula, Markku, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7704-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7705-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • institutional theory
  • sustainability
  • transportation
  • resource-based view
  • logistics
  • environment
  • freight
  • intermodal transport
  • LSPs


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards sustainable freight transportation - Evidence from the logistics sector'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this