Outsourcing as a Challenge for Achieving Competitive Advantage in Road Freight Industry – The Case of Croatia

Keywords: road freight transportation, road freight industry, competitive advantage, outsourcing, logistics operators


The purpose of this study was to explore outsourcing as a possible source of competitive advantage for road freight operators, with the empirical research directed towards the road freight transportation sector. Methodologically, this study drew on the data collected from a sample of Croatian road freight transporters. Because a certain number of transportation companies tend to outsource their resources, the insight into outsourcing activities was gained through analysing (1) the number of hired vehicles in the fleet (outsourced vehicles), and (2) the number of hired drivers (outsourced drivers). A variance inflation test, correlation and multiple regression analysis were conducted to test the model assumptions. The research results confirmed the connection between the externalised resources and the differentiation of services and staff. The main contribution and managerial implications included that the companies with a more significant number of hired vehicles in their fleet should differentiate their services. In contrast, the companies that own the majority of their vehicles should build their competitive advantage through staff differentiation.

Author Biographies

Dora Naletina, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Economics and Business

Department of Trade and International Business

Kristina Petljak, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Economics and Business

Department of Trade and International Business

Tomislav Rožić, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences

Department of Transport Logistics


Tob-Ogu A, Kumar N, Cullen J. ICT adoption in road freight transport in Nigeria – A case study of the petroleum downstream sector. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 2018;131: 240-252.

Engström R. The roads’ role in the freight transport system. Transportation Research Procedia. 2016;14: 1443-1452.

Fenelon KG. The economics of road transport. Oxon and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group; 2017.

European Commission. EU transport figures. Statistical pocketbook 2018. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union; 2018. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/facts-fundings/statistics/pocketbook-2018_en [Accessed 20th October 2018].

Stojanović Đ. Road freight transport outsourcing trend in Europe–what do we really know about it? Transportation Research Procedia. 2017;25: 772-793.

Porter ME. Competitive Advantage. New York: The Free Press; 1985.

Hamel G, Prahalad CK. Competing for the future: breakthrough strategies for seizing control of your industry and creating markets for tomorrow. Boston: Harvard Business Press Review; 1994.

Grant RM. Contemporary strategy analysis. United Kingdom: Wiley & Sons. 2010.

Arvidsson N, Woxenius J, Lammgård C. Review of road hauliers' measures for increasing transport efficiency and sustainability in urban freight distribution. Transport Reviews. 2013;33(1): 107-127.

Caerteling JS, Di Benedetto A, Doree G, Halman JIM, Song M. Technology development projects in road infrastructure: The relevance of government champion behavior. Technovation. 2011;31(5-6): 270-283.

Hasselgren B. Government's Role for Transport Infrastructure: Theoretical Approaches and Historical Development. PhD thesis. KTH Royal Institute of Technology; 2013.

Đuranović D, Marić R, Nuševa D, Vukmirović G. Analysis of Indicators of Corporate Responsibility in Road Freight Transport: Results of Transport Companies and FMCG Retailers in Serbia. Promet – Traffic & Transportation. 2016;28(6): 615-26.

Janic M, Jovanović T. Estimating Some Social and Environmental Effects from Rail/Road Substitution in the Trans-European Transport Corridors. Promet – Traffic & Transportation. 2012;24(4): 335-341.

Han R, Yu BY, Tang BJ, Liao H, Wei YM. Carbon emissions quotas in the Chinese road transport sector: A carbon trading perspective. Energy Policy. 2017;106: 298-309.

Palander T. The environmental emission efficiency of larger and heavier vehicles – A case study of road transportation in Finnish forest industry. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2017;155: 57-62.

Wang Y, Sanchez Rodrigues V, Evans L. The use of ICT in road freight transport for CO2 reduction–an exploratory study of UK’s grocery retail industry. The International Journal of Logistics Management. 2015;26(1): 2-29.

Zhang Y, Thompson RG, Bao X, Jiang Y. Analyzing the promoting factors for adopting green logistics practices: A case study of road freight industry in Nanjing, China. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2014;125: 432-444.

Litschke A, Knitschky G. Future development in road freight transport regarding more environmentally friendly vehicle technologies. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Science. 2012;48: 1557-1567.

Fürst E, Oberhofer P. Greening road freight transport: evidence from an empirical project in Austria. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2012;33: 67-73.

Knockaert J. Economic and technical analysis of road emissions. PhD thesis. Katholike Universiteit Leuven, Faculty of Engineering, Belgium; 2010.

Piecyk MI, McKinnon AC. Forecasting the carbon footprint of road freight transport in 2020. International Journal of Production Economics. 2010;128(1): 31-42.

Stojanović ĐM, Aas BØ. Transport outsourcing and transport collaboration relationship: The risk hedging perspective. Serbian Journal of Management. 2015;10(1): 33-49.

Mrowczynska B, Ciesla M, Krol A, Sladkowski A. Application of Artificial Intelligence in Prediction of Road Freight Transportation. Promet – Traffic & Transportation. 2017;29(4): 363-370.

Newman P, Beatley T, Boyer H. Resilient cities: Overcoming fossil fuel dependence. Island Press; 2017.

Yu Y, Li Y, Xia T, Deng H, Bao L, Li W. Organizational mode innovation and credit supervision in road freight transportation under smart mobile devices applications services. Transportation Research Procedia. 2017;25: 762-771.

Kavčić K, Suklan J, Milost F. Outsourcing Logistics Activities: Evidence from Slovenia. Promet – Traffic & Transportation. 2016;28(6): 575-581.

Evangelista P, Sweeney E. Information and communication technology adoption in the Italian road freight haulage industry. International Journal of Logistics Systems and Management. 2014;19(3): 261-282.

Ncube P, Roberts S, Vilakazi T. Study of Competition in the Road Freight Sector in the SADC Region – Case Study of Fertilizer Transport and Trading in Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi. University of Johannesburg, Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED). Working Paper Series 3/2015, 2015.

Demir E, Bektas T, Laporte G. A review of recent research on green road freight transportation. European Journal of Operational Research. 2014;237(3): 775-793.

Streimikiene D, Baležentis T, Baležentiene L. Comparative assessment of road transport technologies. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2013;20: 611-618.

EC-European Commission. Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area-Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system. White Paper, Communication. 28.03.2011;144. Available from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1488203863476&uri=CELEX:52011DC0144 [Accessed 7th May 2018].

Matos FJ, Silva FJ. The rebound effect on road freight transport: Empirical evidence from Portugal. Energy Policy. 2011 May 1;39(5): 2833-41.

McKinnon AC, Piecyk MI. Measurement of CO2 emissions from road freight transport: A review of UK experience. Energy Policy. 2009;1;37(10): 3733-3742.

Lazauskas J, Bureika G, Valiūnas V, Pečeliūnas R, Matijošius J, Nagurnas S. The research on competitiveness of road transport enterprises: Lithuanian case. Transport and Telecommunication. 2012;13(2): 138-147.

Marchington M, Caroll M. Labour scarcity and the survival of small firms: A resource-based view of the road haulage industry. Human Resource Management Journal. 2003;13(4): 5-22.

Baublys A, Griškevičiene D, Lazauskas J, Palšaitis R. Transport economics. Vilnius: Technika; 2003.

Piccoli G. Review: IT-dependent strategic initiatives and sustained competitive advantage: A review and synthesis of the literature. MIS Quarterly. 2005;29(4): 774-776.

Lazauskas J, Bureika G, Valiūnas V, Pečeliūnas R, Matijošius J, Nagurnas S. The research on competitiveness of road transport enterprises: Lithuanian case. Transport and Telecommunication. 2012;13(2): 138-147.

Sriraman S, Venkatesh A, Karne M, Mohite V. Competition issues in the road goods transport industry in India with special reference to the Mumbai metropolitan region. The Competition Commission of India. Final Report, 2006.

Langvinienė N, Sližienė G. Factors for competitiveness in the freight transport service market: case of Lithuania. Economics and Management. 2012;17(1): 264-271.

Kowalska K. Non-market factors of competitiveness of transport, freight forwarding and logistics companies. Forum Scientiae Oeconomia. 2014;2(5): 5-17.

Wagner SM. Innovation management in the German transportation industry. Journal of Business Logistics. 2008;29(2): 215-231.

Schönberger J, Kopfer H. Revenue Management in road-based freight transportation: Impacts of uncertainty of capacity consumption. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. 2012;42(4): 388-403.

Barney JB. Resource-based theories of competitive advantage: A ten-year retrospective on the resource-based view. Journal of Management. 2001;27(6): 643-650.

Tayauova G. Advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing: analysis of outsourcing practices of Kazakhstan banks. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2012;41: 188-195.

Pavić M. Uloga outsourcinga u povećanju konkurentnosti velikih hrvatskih poduzeća na međunarodnom tržištu. Poslovna izvrsnost. 2009;3(2): 41-58. Croatian

De Almeida Neves LW, Hamacher S, Scavarda LF. Outsourcing from the perspectives of TCE and RBV: A multiple case study. Production. 2014;24(3): 687-699.

Sacristan NM. Consideraciones teoricas del outsourcing. Boletin economicao del ICE. 1999;1: 27-41.

Grant RM. The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: implications for strategy formulation. California Management Review. 1991;33(2): 114-135.

Yasuda H. Formation of strategic alliances in high-technology industries: comparative study of the resource-based theory and the transaction-cost theory. Technovation. 2005;25(7): 763-770.

Mayer KJ, Salomon RM. Capabilities, Contractual Hazards, and Governance: Integrating Resource-Based and Transaction Cost Perspectives. Academy of Management. 2006;49(5): 942-959.

Barthelemy J. The Hidden Costs of IT Outsourcing. MIT Sloan Management Review. 2001;42(3): 60-69.

Espino-Rodriguez TF, Padron-Robaina V. A review of outsourcing from the resource-based view of the firm. International Journal of Management Reviews. 2006;8(1): 49-70.

Corbett MF. The Outsourcing Revolution: Why It makes Sense and How to Do It Right. Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing; 2004.

Tayles M, Drury C. Moving from Make/Buy to Strategic Sourcing: The Outsource Decision Process. Long Range Planning. 2001;34(5): 605-622.

Bettis RA, Bradley S, Hamel G. Outsourcing and industrial decline. Academy of Management Executive. 1992;6(1): 7-22.

McGrath RG. The end of competitive advantage. Boston: Harvard Business Review. 2013.

Drljača M. Outsourcing kao poslovna strategija. Zbornik radova 11. međunarodnog simpozija o kvaliteti. Kvaliteta, konkurentnost i održivost, 18.-19. March 2010, Zagreb. Croatia. Hrvatsko društvo menadžera kvalitete i Oskar; 2010. p. 53-64. Croatian

Porter ME. Competitive strategy. New York: The Free Press. 1980.

Insinga RC, Werle MJ. Linking outsourcing to business strategy. Academy of Management Executive. 2000;14(4): 58-70.

Lacković Z. Outsourcing u održavanju. Osijek: Građevinski Fakultet; 2014. Croatian

Ashley E. Outsourcing for dummies. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing Inc; 2008.

Anikin BA, Rudaya IL. Outsourcing and outstaffing: high technologies of management. Moscow: Infra-M Publishing House; 2009.

Coase RH. The nature of the firm. Economica. 1937;4(16): 386-405.

Díaz-Mora C. What factors determine the outsourcing intensity? A dynamic panel data approach for manufacturing industries. Applied Economics. 2008;40(19): 2509-2521.

Barney JB. Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management. 1991;17(1): 99-120.

Peteraf MA. The cornerstones of competitive advantage: A resource based view. Strategic Management Journal. 1993;14(3): 179-191.

Lieberman MB, Montgomery DB. First mover advantages. Strategic Management Journal. 1988;9(1): 41-58.

Dyer J, Singh H. The relational view: Cooperative strategy and sources of interorganizational competitive advantage. Academy of Management Review. 1998;23(4): 660-679.

Espino-Rodriguez TF, Padron-Robaina V. A resource-based view of outsourcing and its implications for organizational performance in the hotel sector. Tourism Management. 2005;26(5): 707-721.

Barney JB. How a firm's capabilities affect boundary decisions. Sloan Management Review. 1999;40(3): 137-145.

Wernerfelt B. A resource-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal. 1984;5(2): 171-180.

Lei D, Hitt M. Strategic restructuring and outsourcing: The effect of mergers and acquisitions and LBOs on building skills and capabilities. Journal of Management. 1995;21(5): 835-859.

Dees GG, Rasheed A, Mclaughlin K, Priem R. The new corporate architecture. Academy of Management Executive. 1995;9(3): 7-20.

Klein B, Crawford R, Alchian A. Vertical integration, appropriate rents and the competitive contracting process. Journal of Law and Economics. 1978;21: 297-326.

Rivard S, Raymond L, Verreault V. Resource-based view and competitive strategy: An integrated model of the contribution of information technology to firm performance. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems. 2006;15(1): 29-50.

Zhou K-Z, Li C-B. How strategic orientations influence the building of dynamic capability in emerging economies. Journal of Business Research. 2010;63(3): 224-231.

Lin Y, Wu L-Y. Exploring the role of dynamic capabilities in firm performance under the resource-based view framework. Journal of Business Research. 2014;67(3): 407-413.

Vilain, P, Wolfrom, P. Value Pricing and Freight Traffic: Issues and Industry Constraints in Shifting from Peak to Off-Peak Movements. Transportation Research Record. 2000;1707(1): 64-72.

Nieves J, Haller S. Building dynamic capabilities through knowledge resources. Tourism Management. 2014;40: 224-232.

Neter J, Wasserman W, Whitmore GA. Applied statistics. Boston: Allyn & Bacon Press; 1988.

How to Cite
Naletina D, Petljak K, Rožić T. Outsourcing as a Challenge for Achieving Competitive Advantage in Road Freight Industry – The Case of Croatia. PROMET [Internet]. 2020Feb.13 [cited 2020Feb.21];32(1):127-39. Available from: http://traffic.fpz.hr/index.php/PROMTT/article/view/3198

Most read articles by the same author(s)