The purpose of this paper is to identify the key issues faced by today's supply chain professionals when managing reverse logistics (RL) processes and compare these issues with the topics examined in extant research. By making such a comparison, the paper identifies areas of practical relevance that are being adequately addressed in the literature, as well as areas that may need further attention.
The paper employed a Delphi method in order to uncover the most salient RL issues faced in industry, as viewed by practitioners. The paper then completed a systematic analysis of the RL literature in order to examine the degree to which topics addressed in the extant literature correspond with the framework proposed by Carter and Ellram (1998). Finally, the paper compared and contrasted the findings of the content analysis and Delphi study, which highlights areas for future investigation that may help to better align research with practice.
In the Delphi study, the paper uncovered and ranked seven key issues for RL managers. These are: customer support, top-management support, communication, costs, formalization, timing of operations, and environmental issues. When compared to Carter and Ellram's (1998) framework, three of the seven factors coincide with factors described in the framework and two factors indirectly relate to the framework. The two factors not specifically represented are costs and formalization.
The findings provide practitioners with an understanding of what factors are most important to consider when managing RL programs. The discussion of the comparison between the Delphi results and extant literature provides guidance as to how to address the RL issues uncovered in this study.
This research effort suggests directions for future research that will better align academic topics with current managerial issues. Although the paper offers many suggestions for future research, the paper proposes that investigating ways to increase formalization of RL programs and establish RL as a profit center within organizations may be the areas in greatest need for additional scholarly research.
R. Huscroft, J., T. Hazen, B., J. Hall, D., B. Skipper, J. and B. Hanna, J. (2013), "Reverse logistics: past research, current management issues, and future directions", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 304-327. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-04-2012-0024Download as .RIS
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