Kovacs, G. and Spens, K. (2008), "Beyond business logistics - editorial part 1", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 38 No. 10. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijpdlm.2008.00538jaa.001Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Beyond business logistics - editorial part 1
Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Volume 38, Issue 10
About the Guest Editors
Gyöngyi KovácsAssistant Professor in Supply Chain Management and Corporate Geography at the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration (Hanken) in Helsinki, Finland, where she earned her PhD. She is the Coordinator of the HUMLOG Group, a research network in humanitarian logistics. Her other research interests include sustainable supply chain management and supply chain collaboration. Her publications have appeared in the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management and the Journal of Transport Geography. She is currently the European Co-editor of the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management.
Karen SpensProfessor of Supply Chain Management and Corporate Geography at the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration (Hanken) in Helsinki, Finland. She earned her PhD from Hanken in 2001, and has since published articles in logistics journals such as International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management and the International Journal of Logistics Management. She has also edited several special issues for different journals. Her research interests include humanitarian logistics, health care related research and methodological issues in logistics and supply chain management.
The NOFOMA 2008 Conference marked the 20th anniversary of the Nordic Logistics Research Network. To live with the words of Marianne Jahre, one of the organizers of the very first NOFOMA conference in Norway, the development of the network can be likened to a fairy tale. The network is indeed spreading its wings, and does not shy back from exploring new territories. It arranges conferences, joint PhD courses for doctoral students in the Nordic countries, and has seen the development of a number of important joint Nordic research groups. The network has also given out a case book for teaching logistics in 2006, and an anniversary anthology in 2008. New themes are discovered and new territories conquered every year. Thus, it is not surprising that the theme of the anniversary conference was “Beyond Business Logistics”. Alongside traditional topics and themes, the conference also saw presentations on humanitarian, and military logistics, as well as a number of emerging topics such as supply chain innovation, logistics in emerging markets, and carbon efficiency in the supply chain. In the spirit of combining old themes with new ones, this special issue opens with Marianne Jahre’s anniversary speech, looking back at the origins of the NOFOMA network.
One of the established traditions of the NOFOMA conference is a special link to the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. As in past years, the best papers of the conference are assembled in a special issue, or actually, two special issues, of the journal. It is a special honor for us as European co-editors of the journal to have organized the conference and thus edit these special issues.
But just how are these papers selected? NOFOMA prides itself with a rigorous review process that does not only look at abstracts but assigns two senior researchers as reviewers of full papers. In 2008, a total of 135 abstracts were submitted to the NOFOMA conference, of which 109 wanted to be included in the (double-blind) full paper review process. An additional ten abstracts were submitted to the NOFOMA 2008 Educators’ Day, which for the first time issued its own call for papers. In the end, 41 papers were accepted to the conference proceedings, and numerous others were presented as work in progress or poster presentations at the conference and the Educators’ Day.
Reviewers did not only give constructive comments on each of the papers (notably also on the ones that were rejected) but also had the task of nominating papers for the DB Schenker best paper awards. A paper qualified for the best paper award if its combined ranking of both reviewers exceeded a grade 4 (of 5), or if it was accepted without any revisions. We would like to thank our 75 busy reviewers for their constructive comments on all the papers, and for their best paper nominations. Upon their comments, and rankings of the papers, it was the task of the scientific committee to have a final word on papers with diverging reviews, and on the papers that qualified for the best paper award.
A total of nine papers were nominated for the best paper award, though one of them was excluded in the further best paper selection process, as it was co-authored by people on the scientific committee. Each member of the scientific committee then ranked the remaining eight papers for their suitability to receive the award. As NOFOMA wants to encourage doctoral students to publish, the award has been split for several years into an “overall best paper award” and a “doctoral student best paper”. (For the latter, only papers can qualify that were authored by doctoral students exclusively.) The overall best paper award went to Jesper Aastrup and Árni Halldórsson for their paper on the “Epistemological role of case studies in logistics”, while the doctoral student best paper award was received by Daniel Ekwall for his paper “The displacement effect of cargo theft”. The decision, however, was not an easy one, which is why the special issues resulting from NOFOMA 2008 include all the papers that initially qualified for the award.
The articles in this special issue
This special issue includes the winning article, and, as this paper challenges our thinking of case studies in logistics research, in addition those three other nominees for the best paper award that are indeed case studies.
The best paper award was given to Aastrup and Halldórsson for their paper named the “Epistemological role of case studies in logistics – a critical realist perspective”, which problematizes current research methodology in logistics. Based on critical realism, the paper presents a thorough and systematic justification for using case studies as a research approach. Also, it is argued that the justification of case studies must not only refer to its complementary role in research but must build on groundings that allow this form of research to take a primary role in knowledge creation. The most important contribution of the paper probably, however, lies in contributing to the further understanding of the use of case studies in logistics and the arguments for case studies becoming more legitimate in logistics inquiries. In addition, this paper has implications for further work on the methods of using case studies in logistics.
Zachariassen in the paper “Negotiation strategies in supply chain management” seeks to explore the impact of different negotiation strategies on the relation setting in buyer-supplier relationships. The paper focuses on the impact of two different negotiation strategies in two different relation settings, i.e. in arm’s-length relationships and in strategic partnerships. Interestingly, both can be found in the same case study of a focal company and five of its suppliers. A discussion is provided on when the use of different negotiation strategies can be considered expedient, pairing a distributive negotiation strategy with arm’s-length relationships, while integrative negotiation strategies remain a more ambiguous exercise. The paper also provides some insight concerning the impact of different negotiation strategies on the negotiation setting. As this paper is the first to specifically investigate the role of negotiation strategies in the academic discipline of SCM from a qualitative angle using participant observations and interviews, it opens the doors for further research in this important field.
A different level of analysis can be found in Roso’s paper “Factors influencing implementation of a dry port”, which compares the cases of two terminals and thus aims to contribute to a better understanding of the concept of close dry port. A close dry port with direct rail connection to a seaport is a potential solution for seaport terminal congestion as well as for better seaport inland access. The purpose of this paper is to investigate and define impediments to a close advanced intermodal terminal – dry port implementation. The findings of this paper show that although a concept of a close dry port should bring numerous benefits to the actors of the transport system there are still many impediments to the implementation of the same; land use, infrastructure, environmental and institutional impediments being most common ones for the investigated cases. In addition, the same factors reduce the efficiency of freight movements on land access routes to and from seaports. Importantly, the author also points out that an advanced intermodal terminal must fit into a complex system where the necessary infrastructure is in place and the regulatory systems are properly designed to optimize the involvement of both the public and the private sector.
Finally, Mortensen, Freytag and Arlbjørn, describe and analyze the importance of attractiveness in supply chains in their paper “Attractiveness in supply chains: a process and matureness perspective”. They argue for looking at the concept of attractiveness as an approach to managing business relationships. Attractiveness is based on the creation of voluntary motivation and commitment between the relationship partners. Thus, the attractiveness approach provides an alternative explanation to power structures for the development and management of business relationships. Based on a literature review and two case studies, the paper presents a process and maturity model for attractiveness in business relationships. This model is a first to discuss customer and supplier attractiveness from a SCM perspective. The maturity model can therefore aid companies in managing their resources more efficiently, as it provides a structured framework for assessing a company’s current customer and supplier attractiveness.
We, the editors, hope that you find the articles presented in this special issue interesting and inspiring. Through this special issue of NOFOMA 2008 papers, we also hope to provide yet another glimpse into current Nordic logistics research. This particular special issue stretched the boundaries of business logistics from a methods perspective. The NOFOMA 2008 best paper in particular will certainly provide a more philosophical foundation for many of our case studies to come. Thus, we hope that this special issue will spark more, and more insightful, case studies in further logistics research.
Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens