Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate effects of two integrative mechanisms of third-party logistics (3PL) integration (i.e. information sharing and process coordination) between users and providers on relationship satisfaction, and further explores how partnership-surrounding (e.g. legal unprotectability) and partnership-specific barriers (e.g. measurement difficulty and cooperation difficulty) influence 3PL integration in the context of Chinese 3PL practices. Design/methodology/approach Using data collected from 247 3PL users in China, this study uses the structural equation modeling method to empirically examine the relationship among partnership-surrounding/specific barriers, 3PL integration and relationship satisfaction. Findings The results show that information sharing has no significant effect on relationship satisfaction, while process coordination has a positive effect on relationship satisfaction and partially mediates the relationship between information sharing and relationship satisfaction. Furthermore, as partnership-specific barrier, measurement difficulty and cooperation difficulty are negatively related to information sharing and process coordination. Surprisingly, as partnership-surrounding barrier, legal unprotectability is not significantly related to information sharing but is positively related to process coordination. Originality/value As a comprehensive study on 3PL user-provider relationship in China, this study extends existing 3PL literature by providing evidence about the importance of 3PL integration and different types of barriers to 3PL integration, also providing managerial implications for 3PL users, providers, law and regulation makers about how to better implement 3PL integration in China.
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- 3PL integration
- Partnership-specific barrier
- Partnership-surrounding barrier
- Relationship satisfaction