The impacts of trust and contracts on opportunism in the 3PL industry: The moderating role of demand uncertainty

B. Huo (First Author), Xiande Zhao (Participant Author), Y. Ye (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal


Logistics outsourcing has become an important strategy for companies seeking to gain a competitive advantage. However, opportunistic behavior often arises in the process of outsourcing, and such behavior can damage the collaborative relationships between third-party logistics (3PL) providers and users. By applying the lenses of transaction cost economics, social exchange theory and contingency theory, this study investigates how transactional (i.e., contracts) and relational safeguards (i.e., trust) curb opportunism under demand uncertainty. The data were collected from 247 manufacturing and service industries in China. The results show that trust and detailed contracts mitigate opportunism directly, but contract application aggravates the hazards of opportunism. In addition, demand uncertainty moderates the relationship between contract application and opportunism. Trust, however, both enhances contract application and enables detailed contracts. Therefore, trust indirectly enhances opportunism through contract application and indirectly reduces opportunism through detailed contracts. This study provides theoretical contributions and managerial insights for 3PL relationship management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Corresponding author email


  • China
  • Contracts
  • Opportunism
  • Third-party logistics
  • Trust

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A*
  • Scopus


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