Sustainable transport logistics in Russia - Examining the railway industry

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
Degree programme
54 + app. 100
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 162/2021
Sustainable logistics and supply chain management is a hot topic in modern business. Although it is developed countries that exhibit the highest concern about sustainability, most of the environmental footprint is generated in developing countries. As supply chains grow global, with freight transportation spanning multiple countries, it is of vital importance to understand the impact caused on a country level. Hence, this dissertation covers sustainable transport logistics in Russia. Russia is a rail-reliant economy, where the railways represent the safest and most reliable mode of transporting the cargo over long distances and a backbone for developing infrastructure and industry. Being owned by the state, the railways take a lead in national sustainability transition. Hence, this dissertation builds on three essays that draw a comprehensive picture on sustainability of transport logistics in Russia and of the railway industry, in particular. Essay I explores key drivers behind operational and financial performance of logistics service providers (LSPs) in selected countries, including Russia. The study finds that customer technology uncertainty affects LSPs operational performance and that long-term customer relationships have a positive influence on LSPs financial performance, while LSPs' IT capabilities mediate their financial performance. Essay II looks at corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its disclosure in the Russian railway industry and compares it to Finland. The study finds that both railways use the international legal framework GRI G4 as a core legal framework for designing and reporting CSR. Both companies report on economic, social and environmental dimensions of CSR, yet interpret them differently. Essay III dives deeper by exploring sustainability of railway freight operations in terms of economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The study finds that in its current organisational setting, the freight traction process is too fixed to let the company achieve an optimal performance on economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability simultaneously. This Dissertation contributes to both academic knowledge and practice. It contributes to the established literature exploring the railway operations in Russia, where data collection faces many obstacles due to its distinctive culture and language. The Dissertation unites the three theories of operations management – the resource-based view, the stakeholder theory and the theory of performance frontiers – under a single research umbrella to illustrate how they contribute to studying sustainability comprehensively. The Dissertation opens up the role of the railways in the Russian economy and its transition towards sustainability.
Defence is held on 7.12.2021 12:00 – 15:00 ZOOM
Supervising professor
Kuula, Markku, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Information and Service Management, Finland
logistics, transportation, railways, supply chain management, sustainability, CSR, logistics service providers, government-linked companies, stakeholders, Russia
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: Kuula, Markku; Malik, Marta; Raitasuo, Pinja; Ruiz-Torres, Alex. 2017. The effect of long-term customer relationships and customer-related business uncertainty on the performance of logistic service providers. Inderscience. International Journal of Integrated Supply Chain Management, volume 11 (2-3), pages 172-192. 1477-5360.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJISM.2017.086243 View at publisher
  • [Publication 2]: Malik, Marta. Corporate social responsibility disclosure in the railway industry: com- paring Russia to Finland. Unpublished manuscript
  • [Publication 3]: Malik, Marta; Kuula, Markku; Larson, Paul D.; Koskinen, Pekka. Reaching for an optimal performance in the railway industry: the case of exporting paper from North West Russia. Unpublished manuscript