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The Role of Truck Driver on Sustainable Transportation and Logistics

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Purpose- The purpose of our paper is to identify traits and skills of a truck driver for sustainable transportation, develop a theoretical framework and outline further research directions. Design/Methodology/Approach- The present study undertakes a review of extant literature and appreciative inquiry, a quasi-ethnographic approach to identify traits and skills of a truck driver. Further, using a pragmatic approach, a theoretical framework has been developed. Findings- The study proposes a theoretical framework, which can be further used for formulating training modules for truck drivers for sustainable transportation and logistics. Practical implications- The study has outlined recommendations on the basis of a literature review of extant literature and appreciative inquiry. The recommendations can further help policy makers or technical bodies run by a government agencies or privately managed to develop a training module for truck drivers to meet the future challenges of sustainable transportation. Key-Word(s): Truck Driver, Sustainable Transportation and Logistics, Appreciative Inquiry, Institutional Pressures, Top Management Commitment, Personality Traits.
Industrial and Commercial Training
The Role of Truck Driver on Sustainable Transportation and Logistics:
Rameshwar Dubey Angappa Gunasekaran
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To cite this document:
Rameshwar Dubey Angappa Gunasekaran , (2015),"The Role of Truck Driver on Sustainable Transportation and Logistics",
Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 47 Iss 3 pp. -
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ICT-08-2014-0053
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The Role of Truck Driver on Sustainable Transportation and
Logistics
Abstract
Purpose- The purpose of our paper is to identify traits and skills of a truck
driver for sustainable transportation, develop a theoretical framework and
outline further research directions.
Design/Methodology/Approach- The present study undertakes a review of
extant literature and appreciative inquiry, a quasi-ethnographic approach to
identify traits and skills of a truck driver. Further, using a pragmatic approach,
a theoretical framework has been developed.
Findings- The study proposes a theoretical framework, which can be further
used for formulating training modules for truck drivers for sustainable
transportation and logistics.
Practical implications- The study has outlined recommendations on the basis
of a literature review of extant literature and appreciative inquiry. The
recommendations can further help policy makers or technical bodies run by a
government agencies or privately managed to develop a training module for
truck drivers to meet the future challenges of sustainable transportation.
Key-Word(s): Truck Driver, Sustainable Transportation and Logistics,
Appreciative Inquiry, Institutional Pressures, Top Management Commitment,
Personality Traits.
1. Introduction
The steep rise in contributions in the field of sustainable transportation
demonstrates active debate in this area (Black, 1996; Steg and Gifford, 2005;
Litman and Burwell, 2006; Shafiee and Topal, 2009; Amekudzi et al., 2009;
Eyring et al., 2010; Rogers and Weber, 2011; Lai et al., 2013), especially related
to environmental impacts and drivers’ and support staff’s quality of life.
However, there remains scant empirical research which critically focuses on
the role of truck drivers and their skills development, which are important for
achieving sustainable transportation goals. The trucking industry is the
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backbone of transportation and logistics sector (Londoño-Kent, 2009) with a
vital role in developing economies, especially in the Indian subcontinent,
although this remains a largely unorganized sector (Parkan and Dubey, 2009).
Most research focuses on clean energy use in transportation (e.g. Shafiee and
Topal, 2009; Windecker and Ruder, 2013; Acciaro, 2014). In contrast, there is
hardly any research which focuses on the skills of a truck driver, who has a
major influence on carbon emissions. The present study is motivated by this
research gap and is guided by three research objectives:
(i) To identify the traits and skills required by the truck driver, as an
integral component of sustainable transportation;
(ii) To propose a theoretical framework to create a talent pool for truck
drivers;
(iii) To outline further research directions.
To achieve this, the next section focuses on a review of extant literature.
Section three deals with our theoretical framework and its building blocks. In
the fourth section we discuss the implications of the proposed theoretical
framework and provide recommendations. The final section deals with
conclusions, unique contributions, managerial implications, limitations and
further research directions.
2. Related Research
In this section, we have classified our literature based on satisfaction and
frustration of truck drivers, their traits and skills, training requirements and
driver-related skills gaps in the present trucking industry. An exhaustive
literature survey has been undertaken to answer our first research objective.
2.1 Satisfaction and frustration of long distance truck driving
Satisfaction may be regarded as the ultimate source of motivation to choose
and remain in a tough profession like truck driving; conversely, frustration
from various sources may prevent one selecting truck driving as a profession.
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Here, we explore possible sources of satisfaction and frustration using a critical
review of extant literature. According to Johnson et al. (2009), sources of
satisfaction include self-dependence, opportunity to travel, decent income, and
most importantly the pleasure of driving; while sources of frustration include
being away from home, rising fuel prices, lack of proper training, local
government pressures and issues around loading and unloading. Williams and
George (2013) adopted the appreciative inquiry (AI) method to reveal the factors
which determine the degree of satisfaction among the truck drivers’
community. Their study found that important satisfaction factors are: passion
for driving, opportunity to travel, and the independent nature of the job. Major
deterrent factors are: boredom, poor job respect and stress resulting from long
driving. These observations corroborate Johnson et al.’s (2009) findings.
Spielholz et al. (2008) explored the level of risk associated with long distance
truck driving, and Shibuya et al. (2010) quantified specific risks associated
with loading and unloading activities. These findings indicate that truck drivers
needs different skills to handle work-related stress and avoid frequent injuries
(Spielholz et al., 2008; Shibuya et al., 2010).
Appropriate training may eliminate some of the discomfort factors (long
working hours, long absence from home and high risk of injury) which lead to
frustration among truck drivers (Beilock and Capelle, 1990). However, it may
also be observed that drivers lack sensitivity towards environment and society,
as reflected in their casual approach, and therefore need skills which prepare
them to become more environmentally aware. Developing the necessary skills
set will help position truck drivers as the most important link in a sustainable
supply chain network.
2.2 Traits and skills needed for sustainable transportation and logistics
We have attempted to answer this question using appreciative enquiry (AI), a
qualitative research method that focuses on interpreting the meanings,
purposes, and intentions of people who share their feelings and experiences. In
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our study, due to insufficient literature focusing on the traits and skills of a
truck driver in the context of sustainable supply chain networks, a qualitative
methodology is appropriate (Williams and George, 2013). AI, termed a
discipline of positive change, has emerged in recent years as one of the most
respected qualitative research technique (Cooperrider et al., 2008).
We conducted studies at various locations in India, spending time with
state police, who are responsible for monitoring truck emissions, age,
condition, and traffic laws; drivers themselves; and ten different police
commissioners and deputy commissioners in Nashik, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata
and Delhi. We asked their opinion about recent challenges in terms of carbon
emissions; their perceptions of drivers’ quality of life; the extent to which
drivers are responsive towards environmental practices; and what traits and
skills a driver should possess.
2.2.1 Traits of a truck driver
We identified the following skills set of an ideal truck driver:
(i) Maturity
Maturity is an important criterion, supported by extant literature (Min and
Emam, 2003; Suszuki et al., 2009; Williams et al., 2011). Mature truck drivers
respect local government rules and generally take more responsibility for
environmental practices like regular engine cleaning, proper maintenance and
driving within speed limits, whereas younger drivers are more irresponsible
and enjoy breaking rules (Min and Emam, 2003; Suszuki et al., 2009; Williams
et al., 2011; Saldanha et al., 2013; Williams and George, 2013).
(ii) Education level
Education level is an important criterion that differentiates responsible from
irresponsible truck drivers. According to senior police officers, most truck
drivers are not even high school graduates. A lack of proper scrutiny over how
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drivers obtain their heavy vehicle licenses was reported. However, there was a
belief that tightening up on this could lead to an acute shortage of truck
drivers. We also identified a lack of respect among Indians towards the truck
driving profession. This finding of our AI contradicts findings from the USA and
other developing economies (Saldanha et al., 2013; Williams and George,
2013); in fact, in Western countries truck driving professions are well
respected. This could be linked to country culture, which may further impact
on driver education level (Min and Emam, 2003). Education may be regarded
as a major constraint in India due to popular perception of truck driving.
(iii) Endurance
Endurance is regarded as a key criterion for determining the longevity of a
driver, as poor endurance may lead to frustration (Min and Emam, 2003;
Williams and George, 2013). Our AI suggested that endurance may be linked to
drivers’ demographic profiles (age, educational background, experience), socio-
economic status, and Indian culture by state. Experienced drivers with proper
training from Indian states like Punjab, Bihar and UP tend to have more
endurance than those with less experience from states like West Bengal, Kerala
and Assam.
2.2.2 Skills of a truck driver
(i) Technical knowledge
Technical knowledge includes basic automobile engineering, fundamentals of
logistics and transportation and basic instrumentation awareness for
environmental testing and basic engine diagnostics and maintenance. These AI
findings are corroborated by extant literature (Kuncyté et al., 2003; Raftery et
al., 2008) and this is an area that needs urgent attention. Indian truck drivers
almost entirely lack the skills set of U.S. drivers (Williams and George, 2013),
possibly due to lack of proper motor training schools or institutes.
(ii) Behavioral skills
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The AI reveals that due to poor communication skills and inappropriate
attitudes, drivers often end up in direct confrontation with regulatory
authorities in a large country where different languages are spoken. Truck
drivers from states like Punjab, Bihar and UP and are well conversant in Hindi,
but find it difficult to communicate in the South (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh
and Kerala) where English is more widespread.
2.3 Research gaps
To further corroborate our AI data we have undertaken review of extant
literature, identifying many gaps which require urgent attention. There is a
dearth of literature focusing on the sustainable transportation and logistics
training needs of truck drivers. The logistics and supply chain literature has
also failed to address truck drivers’ skills and future training requirements to
meet complex sustainable supply chain network requirements (exceptions: Min
and Emam, 2003; Williams et al., 2011; Williams and George, 2013). There is
thus a lack of a comprehensive theoretical training framework for truck drivers,
and thus a pressing need to develop the training modules required to meet the
future challenges of sustainable transportation and logistics.
3. Theoretical Framework
The foundation of our theoretical framework comprises three elements:
training, skills and institutional theory (see Figure 1). In recent years,
institutional theory (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983) has emerged as a powerful
explanation for the influence of external institutions on organizational decision
making and outcomes. We argue that due to the institutional pressures
detailed below, transport firms must embrace sustainability within their
corporate strategy. However, successful implementation is determined by
several external and internal factors. Our conceptual framework is grounded in
the proposition that institutional forces can only affect truck drivers’ skills after
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they are mediated by proper training and moderated by successful top
management intervention.
Figure 1: Theoretical Framework
Coercive pressures are external pressures created by stakeholders
(government agencies, regulatory norms etc.) due to varying expectations from
society (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983). Coercive pressures, mediated through
rigorous training and moderated by top management commitment, result in the
desired technical and behavioral skills of the truck drivers.
Normative pressures are due to professional codes, which expect
professionals to follow specific guidelines. In India, trucking unions play an
important role in creating a sense of environmental responsibility and safe
driving. In our study we have identified, based on extant literature and AI, the
Personality Traits
Coercive Pressures
Normative
Pressures
Mimetic Pressures
Training
Technical Skills
Behavioral Skills
Top management commitment
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impacts of normative pressure on the technical and behavioral skills of truck
drivers when mediated by proper training and moderated by top management
commitment.
Mimetic pressures result from the mimicking action of an organization. When
an organization lacks clarity in terms of goals, or environmental uncertainty is
high (i.e. poor supply of trained and responsible drivers in the market), top
management tends to replicate existing industry trends. Thus mimetic
pressure tends to impact how the technical and behavioral skills of truck
drivers are mediated by training and moderated by top management.
Training can help to translate these institutional pressures into the desired
technical and behavioral skills of a truck driver. As discussed earlier, lack of
appropriate training leads to frustration, sometimes resulting in drivers
quitting the profession (Johnson et al., 2013; Williams and George, 2013) and
is reflected in psychological and physical stress. There is a high risk of injury
during consignment loading and unloading, thus driver training modules
should be developed which mediate between institutional pressures and the
sustainable transportation and logistics skill of truck drivers (i.e. technical
skills and behavioral skills). Mismatch between driver personality traits and the
truck driving profession can limit longevity in the profession, therefore training
must ensure proper fitment between personality traits and the truck driving
profession and must include psychological training to build endurance.
Training should also include a mentor-mentee program to help young drivers
mature under the effective guidance of a senior driver; and technical training
should be provided including fundamental engineering, environmental
awareness, basic logistics and transportation management, as well as the law
(Multimodal Transportation of Goods Act, Motor Vehicle Act).
Technical skills clearly reflect the responsible behavior of the truck drivers.
Many drivers lack of adequate knowledge related to engine and transmission
systems, or control of carbon emissions. Due to lack of legal awareness drivers
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come into confrontation with regulatory authorities, especially when lack of
computer skills means they cannot track modifications in the regulations. Poor
reading and writing skill in English may also cause difficulties.
Behavioral skills may determine the longevity of the truck driver. Poor
communication skills or negative attitude may reflect on their performance and
impacts their perception by society. Behavioral skills of truck drivers require
urgent attention, including communication, teamwork, leadership, positive
attitude, community feeling and environmental responsibility.
Personality Traits are included as confounding variables to fully account for
the difference in learning outcomes and the level of skills acquired by truck
drivers through training. This avoids the risk of compromising the internal
validity of the constructs of the framework. We identified maturity (i.e. age),
education level and endurance level as confounding variables.
4. Discussions and Recommendations
The theoretical framework (Figure 1) clearly indicates how the institutional
pressures, under the mediation effect of training and moderation effect of top
management commitment, can successfully help to develop required skills, so
that truck drivers can respond to the pressing need of sustainable
transportation and logistics. Based on this, we offer the following
recommendations so that truck driving can become a respected profession and
truck drivers can be a part of a sustainable supply chain network:
(i) The training must help to assimilate external pressures into technical
and behavioral skills. Four levels of training are required:
(a) Psychological Training;
(b) MentorMentee Program;
(c) Technical Knowledge;
(d) Behavioral Dynamics Laboratory exposure.
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(ii) Top management commitment towards training can further help to
create a pool of skilled truck drivers, e.g. by recognizing the
contribution of the truck driver, perhaps nominating responsible
drivers for citizenship awards through professional bodies (Chartered
Institute of Logistics and Transport (India), Asian Council of Logistics
Management (India), Confederation of Indian Industry Institute for
Logistics). Top management must offer high incentives to boost
morale of the truck drivers and provide excellent regular training
opportunities and health check facilities.
(iii) Driver skills identification must be correlated with their personality
traits to allow proper recruitment for the truck driving profession.
Proper awareness needs to be created among young people of the
truck driving profession to create respect for truck driving among
local communities.
5. Conclusions
In response to our first research objective, we have undertaken an in-depth
exhaustive literature review and used AI as a quasi-ethnographic approach to
identify traits and skills of a truck driver from a sustainable transportation and
logistics perspective. Our findings corroborated those of past scholars (Johnson
et al., 2009; Williams and George, 2013) and we have attempted to extend past
research (Jabbour, 2011; Jabbour and Jabbour, 2014).
In response to our second research objective, we proposed the theoretical
framework (Figure 1) that shows how training can translate institutional
pressures with support of top management into skills for sustainable
transportation and logistics. Current skills of truck drivers in the Indian
subcontinent are not up to expected international levels. However, the
framework is based on our pragmatic approach guided by extant literature and
AI data, and needs to be empirically validated.
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5.1 Unique Contributions
This may be the first attempt to propose a theoretical framework for truck
driver skills from a sustainable transportation and logistics perspective. The
present study has attempted to contribute to institutional theory. It has further
validated the studies of Johnson et al. (2009) and Williams and George (2013).
The role of sustainable transportation and logistics in sustainable supply chain
networks has attracted major attentions from scholars in past. Truck drivers,
regarded as the heart of the road transportation system, somehow received
little attention from researchers. Past research failed to connect two very
important aspects of SCM (i.e. human resource and sustainable supply chain
network) (Ellinger and Ellinger, 2014). Our present study used literature review
and AI to explore the traits and skill for truck driving from a sustainable
transportation and logistics perspective, thus contributing to supply chain
management literature.
5.2 Managerial Implications
The present study can help practitioners and policy makers to formulate
training modules for truck drivers for sustainable transportation and logistics.
Second, it may attract an urgent attention from specialized institutions from
developing countries. Existing training needs a complete overhaul to address
the pressing needs of the time. The framework can help to further outline the
personality traits and skills of the truck drivers as per the needs of sustainable
transportation and logistics. Professional societies can further respond to our
call by institutionalizing awards for truck drivers in local and national forums
and companies may reward and recognize the true contributions of truck
drivers towards achieving sustainable development. Regulatory authorities and
other members of the supply chain network must pay due respect to truck
drivers as equal, or perhaps even the most, important members of the supply
chain network. Imagine how our lives would be without them
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5.3 Limitations and Further Research Directions
The present study has limitations, but we feel these provide impetus for further
research. The study proposed a theoretical framework based on literature
review and AI outcomes; this needs to be statistically validated using survey
data. Moreover, the proposition of our theoretical framework needs to be tested
using hierarchical regression analysis. In using AI in our study, we only
interviewed selected senior police officials, leading to a risk of bias, which can
be reduced by including other regulatory authorities and managers from
transportation companies. However, this is difficult in this unorganized sector
in the Indian subcontinent characterized by small companies (5 to 10 trucks)
with no human resource manager. However, interviews with truck owners may
provide useful insights.
Acknowledgements: The authors are most grateful to two anonymous
reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments which helped to improve
the presentation considerably.
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... Downing et al. [1] analysed the effect of carbon emission in the society and techniques to control the environmental pollution. Dubey and Gunasekaran [2] studied the role of truck driver on sustainable transportation and logistics. Karmakar et al. [3,4] have kept a special destination to tackle the problem of the learning effect in any production process extensively. ...
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... VI) Operational (OP) Risks Delay Risk(R24) Transportation delays lead to disruption of delivery schedules, need for extra trips, increased cost, driver stress etc Sanchez-Rodrigues et al. (2010), Demir et al. (2015), Nguyen et al. (2019) Vehicle Routing and Scheduling Risk (R25) Inefficient route planning and scheduling results in empty running and increased travel distance, which can impact on the environment and economic efficiency Piecyk and McKinnon (2010), Vega-Mejía et al. (2017) Material Handling Risk (R26)Chances of product damage during transshipment cause monetary losses and wastage of resourcesDubey and Gunasekaran (2015) ...
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