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Supervisory coaching in a logistics context

Alexander E. Ellinger (Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Andrea D. Ellinger (Department of Human Resource Education, The University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA)
Scott B. Keller (The University of West Florida, College of Business Administration, Pensacola, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 1 October 2005




To examine warehouse worker development associated with managerial coaching in the logistics industry.


Examine the efficacy of this developmental approach in a logistics context, a survey method was used to provide an overview of supervisors' coaching behavior at 18 distribution centers in the United States. Warehouse workers answered questions about their interactions with their supervisors and their own job satisfaction while supervisors answered questions pertaining to the job‐related performance of warehouse workers for whom they were directly responsible.


The study findings indicate that warehouse workers at these distribution centers encounter low levels of supervisory coaching behavior. However, despite these low levels, significant positive associations were found between supervisory coaching behavior, warehouse worker job satisfaction and supervisors' perceptions of their subordinates' job‐related performance.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on the perceptions of respondents at the specific distribution centers in our study and therefore should not be interpreted as being generalizable. However, we hope that they will stimulate further empirical research on the growth, development and retention of front‐line logistics workers – an important, but relatively under‐researched, area of supply chain management.

Practical implications

The logistics industry is becoming progressively more service‐oriented and technologically‐driven and greater front‐line worker competence in these areas will be required for many firms to survive.


As the greatest aggregation of labor in the supply chain is in distribution center operations, our findings may encourage logistics organizations to evaluate the feasibility of adopting more people‐oriented supervisory approaches like coaching that focus on personnel development and the provision of more intrinsically‐rewarding work environments.



Ellinger, A.E., Ellinger, A.D. and Keller, S.B. (2005), "Supervisory coaching in a logistics context", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 35 No. 9, pp. 620-636.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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