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A complexity perspective on logistics management : Rethinking assumptions for the sustainability era

Nilsson, Fredrik Ralf LU (2019) In International Journal of Logistics Management
Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on how perspectives and assumptions embedded in the complexity paradigm contribute to make logistics management research better aligned with real-life logistics. This is necessary, due to increasing supply chain complexity caused by an increasing request for sustainable development (SD). Design/methodology/approach: The research is exploratory and based on a narrative literature review of logistics and supply chain management (SCM) from a complexity science perspective. Qualitative research interviews have been conducted with 12 logistics and supply chain managers in international companies and have focussed on their daily experiences and the underlying assumptions related to their... (More)

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on how perspectives and assumptions embedded in the complexity paradigm contribute to make logistics management research better aligned with real-life logistics. This is necessary, due to increasing supply chain complexity caused by an increasing request for sustainable development (SD). Design/methodology/approach: The research is exploratory and based on a narrative literature review of logistics and supply chain management (SCM) from a complexity science perspective. Qualitative research interviews have been conducted with 12 logistics and supply chain managers in international companies and have focussed on their daily experiences and the underlying assumptions related to their actual work. Findings: Logistics and SCM research is embedded in the functionalistic paradigm with reductionistic assumptions as the dominant logic. These do not sufficiently align with the complexity related, for example, to the daily work of SD in logistics management practice. Research limitations/implications: It is proposed that the inclusion of complexity-based assumptions in logistics management research can increase realism in the advancement of the discipline. A key result is that the recognition of logistics as complex means inclusion of human and social aspects – which is apparent in any logistics process or phenomenon – in logistics knowledge creation processes. Practical implications: Increased realism in logistics management research by addressing complexity, instead of merely reducing it, will provide logistics and supply chain managers with increased understanding and appropriate knowledge when they deal with emerging challenges such as SD. Originality/value: Based on Boulding’s levels of complexity, this paper challenges the underlying assumptions of logistics management in research and practice, and provides reflective frameworks for advancing the discipline and aligning it to the complexity of contemporary challenges in logistics management.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Agile, Decision making, Europe, Qualitative interviews, Supply chain processes, Sustainability
in
International Journal of Logistics Management
publisher
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
external identifiers
  • scopus:85071633099
ISSN
0957-4093
DOI
10.1108/IJLM-06-2019-0168
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c5b2efff-004b-4fa3-b42a-8c8d9518f134
date added to LUP
2019-09-23 14:40:12
date last changed
2019-10-08 03:59:02
@article{c5b2efff-004b-4fa3-b42a-8c8d9518f134,
  abstract     = {<p>Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on how perspectives and assumptions embedded in the complexity paradigm contribute to make logistics management research better aligned with real-life logistics. This is necessary, due to increasing supply chain complexity caused by an increasing request for sustainable development (SD). Design/methodology/approach: The research is exploratory and based on a narrative literature review of logistics and supply chain management (SCM) from a complexity science perspective. Qualitative research interviews have been conducted with 12 logistics and supply chain managers in international companies and have focussed on their daily experiences and the underlying assumptions related to their actual work. Findings: Logistics and SCM research is embedded in the functionalistic paradigm with reductionistic assumptions as the dominant logic. These do not sufficiently align with the complexity related, for example, to the daily work of SD in logistics management practice. Research limitations/implications: It is proposed that the inclusion of complexity-based assumptions in logistics management research can increase realism in the advancement of the discipline. A key result is that the recognition of logistics as complex means inclusion of human and social aspects – which is apparent in any logistics process or phenomenon – in logistics knowledge creation processes. Practical implications: Increased realism in logistics management research by addressing complexity, instead of merely reducing it, will provide logistics and supply chain managers with increased understanding and appropriate knowledge when they deal with emerging challenges such as SD. Originality/value: Based on Boulding’s levels of complexity, this paper challenges the underlying assumptions of logistics management in research and practice, and provides reflective frameworks for advancing the discipline and aligning it to the complexity of contemporary challenges in logistics management.</p>},
  author       = {Nilsson, Fredrik Ralf},
  issn         = {0957-4093},
  keyword      = {Agile,Decision making,Europe,Qualitative interviews,Supply chain processes,Sustainability},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  publisher    = {Emerald Group Publishing Limited},
  series       = {International Journal of Logistics Management},
  title        = {A complexity perspective on logistics management : Rethinking assumptions for the sustainability era},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-06-2019-0168},
  year         = {2019},
}