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Moving beyond the systems approach in SCM and logistics research

Nilsson, Fredrik LU and Gammelgaard, Britta (2012) In International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management Vol. 42(8). p.764-783
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a paradigmatic reflection on theoreticalapproaches recently identified in logistics and supply chain management (SCM); namely complex adaptive systems and complexity thinking, and to compare it to the dominant approach in logistics and SCM research, namely the systems approach. By analyzing the basic assumptions of the three approaches, SCM and logistics researchers are guided in their choice of research approaches which increases their awareness of the consequences different approaches have on theory and practice.



Design/methodology/approach – The point of departure for the research presented is conceptualization based on literature reviews. Furthermore, years of... (More)
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a paradigmatic reflection on theoreticalapproaches recently identified in logistics and supply chain management (SCM); namely complex adaptive systems and complexity thinking, and to compare it to the dominant approach in logistics and SCM research, namely the systems approach. By analyzing the basic assumptions of the three approaches, SCM and logistics researchers are guided in their choice of research approaches which increases their awareness of the consequences different approaches have on theory and practice.



Design/methodology/approach – The point of departure for the research presented is conceptualization based on literature reviews. Furthermore, years of observations, discussions and empirical studies of logistics operations and management have also influenced the design of this research.



Findings – With a discourse set in relation to the dominant approach in SCM and logistics research, the systems approach, it is concluded that the underlying assumptions of complex adaptive systems

and complexity thinking are more appropriate than systems approach for contemporary challenges of organizational complexity in SCM and logistics. It is found that the two complexity-based approaches

can advance SCM and logistics research and practice especially when focusing on innovation, learning and sense-making.



Research limitations/implications – Reflections of underlying assumptions when considering and selecting methodological approaches have implications for research results. This paper provides

both a framework for and an analysis of such reflection which contributes to the further development of SCM and logistics research. Future research is needed to empirically provide insights on how

complexity approaches can advance the area of SCM and logistics.



Practical implications – For logistics researchers and practitioners dealing with creativity, innovation, learning and sense-making and other human-related aspects, the complexity approaches,

with underlying assumptions, presented will provide reflection, inspiration and guidance for further development.



Originality/value – This paper contributes to the further development of SCM and logistics research and practice by providing a reflective analysis and discussion of established and new research approaches with potential benefits for the SCM and logistics community. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Complexity theory, Basic assumptions, Paradigm, Logistics, Supply chain management, Systems approach, Distribution management, Packaging logistics
in
International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
volume
Vol. 42
issue
8
pages
764 - 783
publisher
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
external identifiers
  • wos:000311530000004
  • scopus:84868031803
ISSN
0960-0035
DOI
10.1108/09600031211269749
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4629f859-09b7-40a5-8258-46b55409133a (old id 3224768)
date added to LUP
2013-01-07 08:19:49
date last changed
2017-08-27 04:53:32
@article{4629f859-09b7-40a5-8258-46b55409133a,
  abstract     = {Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a paradigmatic reflection on theoreticalapproaches recently identified in logistics and supply chain management (SCM); namely complex adaptive systems and complexity thinking, and to compare it to the dominant approach in logistics and SCM research, namely the systems approach. By analyzing the basic assumptions of the three approaches, SCM and logistics researchers are guided in their choice of research approaches which increases their awareness of the consequences different approaches have on theory and practice.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Design/methodology/approach – The point of departure for the research presented is conceptualization based on literature reviews. Furthermore, years of observations, discussions and empirical studies of logistics operations and management have also influenced the design of this research.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Findings – With a discourse set in relation to the dominant approach in SCM and logistics research, the systems approach, it is concluded that the underlying assumptions of complex adaptive systems<br/><br>
and complexity thinking are more appropriate than systems approach for contemporary challenges of organizational complexity in SCM and logistics. It is found that the two complexity-based approaches<br/><br>
can advance SCM and logistics research and practice especially when focusing on innovation, learning and sense-making.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Research limitations/implications – Reflections of underlying assumptions when considering and selecting methodological approaches have implications for research results. This paper provides<br/><br>
both a framework for and an analysis of such reflection which contributes to the further development of SCM and logistics research. Future research is needed to empirically provide insights on how<br/><br>
complexity approaches can advance the area of SCM and logistics.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Practical implications – For logistics researchers and practitioners dealing with creativity, innovation, learning and sense-making and other human-related aspects, the complexity approaches,<br/><br>
with underlying assumptions, presented will provide reflection, inspiration and guidance for further development.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Originality/value – This paper contributes to the further development of SCM and logistics research and practice by providing a reflective analysis and discussion of established and new research approaches with potential benefits for the SCM and logistics community.},
  author       = {Nilsson, Fredrik and Gammelgaard, Britta},
  issn         = {0960-0035},
  keyword      = {Complexity theory,Basic assumptions,Paradigm,Logistics,Supply chain management,Systems approach,Distribution management,Packaging logistics},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {764--783},
  publisher    = {Emerald Group Publishing Limited},
  series       = {International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management},
  title        = {Moving beyond the systems approach in SCM and logistics research},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09600031211269749},
  volume       = {Vol. 42},
  year         = {2012},
}