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Rediscovering relevance

Douglas M. Lambert (Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 10 April 2019

Issue publication date: 15 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to document the growing concerns about the lack of relevance of business school research, and offer suggestions for journal editors and faculty members in logistics and supply chain management.


This paper is a review of literature related to the relevance of business school research and an analysis of trends related to the editorial review boards of the three main logistics journals.


The current business school research model is unsustainable. The metrics used are driving the wrong behavior. Logistics journals, traditionally known for an emphasis on practical relevance, appear to be emulating the journals of other business functions at a time when there is a growing consensus that these journals are publishing, more often than not, research of little or no value to practicing managers or society.

Practical implications

The cost of faculty research at AACSB schools, which increasingly benefits no one but the authors, has been estimated at roughly US$3.8bn annually. Imagine the potential benefits if business school deans realigned the incentives to encourage faculty to produce credible research that is useful to business and society.


The hope is to influence senior logistics faculty with tenure to work with business executives or policymakers to identify long-term big idea projects that will impact business and society, and publish their research in the logistics journals. Traditionally, the editors of logistics journals included business executives on the editorial review boards and encouraged research of practical relevance. Journal editors should look back and realize what was good about the journals and not discard the good for current fads.



The author would like to thank Jim Kent, former Partner at McKinsey & Company, Director at Arthur Andersen, Senior VP at Kraft/Dart Industries, Senior VP at Hobart Food Equipment Company and CEO at Garland Commercial Industries; his colleague Matias Enz of the University of Missouri, St. Louis; and the editor for comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper.


Lambert, D.M. (2019), "Rediscovering relevance", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 382-394.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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