A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research

Karen M. Spens (Department of Marketing, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland)
Gyöngyi Kovács (Department of Marketing, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Publication date: 1 June 2006

Abstract

Purpose

Based on a framework developed by Kovács and Spens, this paper seeks to assess the use of the three different research approaches in logistics research; discuss the use of different research methods within the three research approaches; find and discuss applications of the abductive research approach to logistics problems.

Design/methodology/approach

Content analysis is used in order to categorize the different research approaches. While content analysis commonly uses smaller units such as paragraphs, sentences, words or characters, this study used entire articles as the unit of analysis. The scope of the review encompassed five years (1998‐2002) of articles in IJLM, IJPDLM and JBL. A total of 378 articles was reviewed and categorized.

Findings

The findings of the study corroborate earlier studies regarding the main research approach used in logistics. Published logistics research is hypothetico‐deductive, with a strong emphasis on using survey methods. Nevertheless, inductive as well as abductive research is gaining importance. However, most logistics articles do not explicitly discuss the research process, nor the approach used. Therefore, a call for more explicit statements of the research approach is suggested.

Research limitations/implications

The review of the articles is limited to three main journals in the field. A more comprehensive view of research approaches could be obtained by broadening the review to include also other types of research.

Practical implications

The paper provides a framework and guidelines to researchers for explicitly discussing the research approach used in logistics articles.

Originality/value

The paper provides an overview of the research approaches used in logistics research.

Keywords

Citation

Spens, K. and Kovács, G. (2006), "A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 374-390. https://doi.org/10.1108/09600030610676259

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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