- Supply chain management
- Information system
Purpose – The paper puts forward a transactional center approach to the four-party logistics (4PL) development. For about ten years, the European logistics industry has indeed been undergoing massive changes by which dematerialized logistics service providers, also called 4PL, have become more and more important. Special emphasis is placed on their role of intermediary between the supply chain members, on the basis of the implementation of inter-organizational information systems (IOS). Design/methodology/approach – The paper goes over the research literature on 4PL referring to the info-mediation and intermediation processes. The accent is on the electronic brokerage application and on the main hindrances to 4PL development. Three propositions are put forward concerning a relevant research program. Findings – Understanding 4PL’s strategy dynamics requires going into the specific details of the role of transactional center. Thus, thanks to the effective management of IOS, some 4PL could become the hub firms of network organizations. To do that, they will have to acquire a thorough expertise on selecting network members and monitoring supply chain interfaces. Originality/value – A preliminary framework provides elements of discussion to enable a better understanding of the transformation process of the logistics industry. The interest for managers and academics is to illustrate how 4PL are becoming the agents for strategic change, while an excessive importance is usually attached only to manufacturers and large retailers in the academic literature.