City Logistics in China

ChengduCity logistics is a young research area. It has undergone over three decades of development since its conception in the last century. It is believed to have the potential to support the realisation of building up sustainable cities.

After successful development during the last three decades, China has been seeking a more healthy economic growth model relying on urbanisation and domestic consumption. This is because one billion citizens are expected to be living in Chinese cities by 2030. Logistics has hereby been given the mission to assist this transition of the economic growth model by establishing a reliable goods supply on one hand, and improving citizens’ quality of life on the other – all in a way that develops sustainable urbanisation. This thesis thus addresses this issue, aiming to examine whether the concept of city logistics is suitable and applicable for China’s cities to build a sustainable urbanisation.

In order to provide a reliable answer to the above-raised question, the thesis is designed in a structural way and consists of several interrelated parts in sequence. After the introduction of the research background and questions, the thesis begins with an exploration of city logistics, both in theory and in practice. The findings of this part include the conceptual framework of city logistics, an extensive list of city logistics solutions and an elaboration of the urban consolidation centre solution. Together these findings present a comprehensive discussion and lay the foundation for the empirical study of city logistics in China.

The thesis then shifts focus from city logistics in general to China. The results of a macro-environment analysis indicate that city logistics must operate within complex surroundings abundant in challenges and opportunities, which require joint effort both from the private and public sector in a shared work process. An empirical study is conducted in the selected city of Chengdu. Following a situational analysis, a visionary master plan is recommended for developing a city logistics system consisting of four building blocks that are functionally inter-related. In respect to implementing the city logistics system and any related solutions, it is of utmost importance to study the attitudes of users of city logistics services. Therefore, an empirical study using the technique of partial least squares path modelling is carried out in order to determine the influential factors and their impacts. The results confirm the proposed path model and indicate valuable implications for cities and managers implementing the solution of an urban consolidation centre.

The rest of the thesis focuses on the investigation of the solution of an urban consolidation centre from a corporate perspective. It employs the approach of business case analysis and investigates its commercial feasibility. Although the results, namely the net profit figure (0.9%), yielded during the study, is lower than the predicted outcome, the study can help cities and managers acknowledge the reality of implementing an urban consolidation centre from a commercial viewpoint. A series of measures is also recommended to help find ways to increase the profitability of the centre to facilitate a successful implementation.

To sum up, the findings from the individual parts work together to provide a consolidated answer to the overriding research question.

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