Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to present a content analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports published by logistics service providers (LSPs), and to analyse factors influencing the level and scope of reporting. In order to address this objective, the authors show to what extent various social and environmental categories are covered in the CSR reports. The authors also investigate whether any differences in the use of CSR indicators can be found with regard to the use of a formal reporting framework, the size of a company, location of its headquarter, and ownership structure.
Design/methodology/approach– The study begins with a comprehensive literature review on the CSR policies and practices in relation to the field of logistics. A database of 350 international LSPs is compiled based on independent rankings of top logistics companies. Applying a content analysis approach, corporate web sites and CSR reports are examined in order to investigate how sustainability is reported and what CSR-related indicators are published. Statistical analysis is carried out to provide insight into whether any differences in the use of CSR indicators can be found with regard to four key factors identified in the literature review.
Findings– Although aspects of sustainability are mentioned on corporate web sites of most LSPs in the database (53 per cent), only 13 per cent publish formal CSR reports. This research identifies a variety of indicators used by LSPs and shows that the use of a formal reporting framework and the size of a company are the two main factors influencing the levels of CSR reporting in the sector.
Practical implications– This paper provides an insight into how transparently LSPs report on the sustainability of their performance. LSPs can compare their own CSR reporting approaches to the body of scientific literature and the findings presented in this paper, in order to adapt more general concepts and best practice evidence to their needs.
Social implications– By focusing on best practice in reporting of the environmental and social performance, this research can potentially improve the long-term sustainability of the logistics sector.
Originality/value– This is the first study providing a comprehensive review of the CSR reporting practice in the third party logistics sector. As such, this paper provides an important basis for CSR-related research in the field of logistics and supply chain management. Several areas for future research are also identified.
Emerald , 2015. Vol. 45, no 5, 459-485 p.