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The evolution and future of logistics and supply chain management

Ronald H. Ballou (Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 3 July 2007




This paper traces the evolution of logistics and supply chain management (SCM) and projects the state of the field in the near term with the attendant challenges for those who must plan and control logistics/supply chain operations.


Key events that created business logistics are noted, the views of the field leaders are identified and assessed, and research outcomes are compared as a basis for how logistics/SCM is viewed today.


The scope of the field has broadened bringing new challenges for researchers and managers, but the broader scope was envisioned from its formation. Improvements in information technology and the just‐in‐time philosophy are the principal drivers for realizing the potential of boundary‐spanning channel management.

Research limitations/implications

The conclusions and projections are based on the author's interpretation of the events surrounding logistics and the supply chain as they have occurred over the last 45 years.

Practical implications

Researchers and managers should find the projections of this paper valuable in defining their action agendas for improving logistics/supply chain operations. Principal among the challenges is the need for a boundary‐spanning accounting system, for a mechanism of sharing the benefits of cooperation among supply chain members, for enhanced relationship skills of logistics/supply chain managers, and for improved methods of estimating the revenue contribution potential of the supply chain.


The personal observations of the author lend a unique perspective as to how the logistics/supply chain has developed and what challenges face researchers and managers if the future potential of the field is to be realized.



Ballou, R.H. (2007), "The evolution and future of logistics and supply chain management", European Business Review, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 332-348.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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