Kovacs, G. and Spens, K. (2009), "Guest editorial", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 39 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijpdlm.2009.00539aaa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Volume 39, Issue 1
About the Guest Editors
Gyöngyi Kovács Assistant 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 and 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 HANKEN in Helsinki, Finland. She earned her PhD in 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.
Beyond business logistics – editorial part 2
Following a tradition of several years, the best papers of the NOFOMA conference are competing to appear in a special issue of the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. The 2008 NOFOMA conference was special in several ways: it marked the 20th anniversary of the Nordic Logistics Research Network, it showed the collaboration spirit of the network by involving four universities in the organization of the conference, and it is now giving out a double number of a special issue of conference papers.
The NOFOMA network is a prime example of collaboration in logistics research. Not only do we preach supply chain collaboration, but we also do our best to live up to our words. The NOFOMA network has seen many joint efforts, from PhD courses to joint anthologies; it was time for it to be also co-organized by a number of universities. As it was “Finland’s turn” to organize the conference, we took this as a chance to work together with all the universities in the Helsinki region that offer logistics education: the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration – HANKEN; the Helsinki School of Economics – HSE; the Helsinki University of Technology – HUT; and the National Defence University – NDU. Both the organizing and the scientific committees were composed of members of each of these universities. What is more, HUT and NDU co-organized the doctoral workshop NORDLOG, HSE lead the Educators’ Day, while the main conference was held at HANKEN. Furthermore, the Finnish Logistics Association LOGY sponsored the printing of the proceedings. The conference was in essence organized in a true collaborative spirit!
As for the special issues, the first of these included the best paper of the conference and a number of nominees for the best paper award that used case studies in their research. However, the conference has in fact two best paper awards, one going to the “overall best paper”, and another being awarded to the “best doctoral student paper”. The latter is now to be found in this special issue.
For a paper to be nominated for an award, it has to be included in the conference proceedings after a rigorous double-blind review process of not only abstracts but also full papers, and be nominated by the reviewers for the award itself. In 2008, a total of 135 abstracts were submitted to the NOFOMA conference (plus 10 abstracts to the Educators’ Day), of which 109 wanted to be included in the full paper review process. Upon the extraordinarily constructive comments of 75 reviewers, 41 papers were finally accepted to the conference proceedings, and numerous others were presented as work in progress or poster presentations at the conference and the Educators’ Day. A paper qualified for the DB Schenker best paper award if its combined ranking of both reviewers exceeded a grade 4 (of 5), or if it was accepted without any revisions. Only then had the scientific committee its final word about the actual awards.
The scientific committee consisted of the logistics faculty of the four co-organizing universities. In essence, decisions of the scientific committee were not taken lightly. Also the question of best paper awards involved a rating of each nominated paper by all members of the committee. A total of nine papers were nominated for the best paper award. Excluding the one co-authored by members of the scientific committee, we were left with eight papers to rate for 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 latter is included in this special issue, along with a number of other interesting nominees for the award.
The articles in this special issue
This special issue could indeed be summarized under the conference theme of “Beyond Business Logistics.” The articles included in this issue tackle topics from the theory of crime replacement in cargo theft, to spare parts management in military logistics, to the use of radio frequency identification tags for supply chain integration and a quantification of the dimensions of flexibility in transportation. What is common to them all is the use of quantitative methods, though these again range from surveys to cost analysis to modeling and simulation. Thus, the special issue shows the many dimensions of Nordic logistics research, which has often come to be associated with qualitative methods and case studies – albeit the first part of the NOFOMA 2008 special issue is indeed a selection of case studies.
In the first article, “Spare parts optimization process and results – OPUS10 cases in the Norwegian defence,” Tysseland investigates how the coordination of procurement projects in the Norwegian Defence affects the spare parts optimization process and its results. Using empirical data from these procurement projects, he assesses the claim of the system approach through OPUS10 to lead to an improved availability of spare parts while leading to savings in spare parts investments. The findings indicated that few Norwegian Defence projects had used the system approach through OPUS10. However, apparently the theoretical claims of potential large savings in spare parts investment cost and/or improvement in operational availability in fact hold true. Owing to the innovative approach of combining factors from organization theory, economic organization theory and operation management this research should have value for both practitioners and researchers within the field spare parts optimization in general and systems management in particular.
Pålsson and Johansson in “Supply chain integration obtained through uniquely labelled goods – a survey of Swedish manufacturing industries” examine the use of unique product IDs through RFID technology, bar codes and “human-readable” labels on packages and load carriers in Swedish manufacturing industries. The inclusion of packaging aspects is rare in supply chain integration research, as packaging has traditionally been viewed as a protective component rather than something that could create value throughout the supply chain. A key component for achieving integration through packaging is the use of unique identities on items. Their analysis indicates that there are a number of distinct clusters of companies with similar drivers for the adoption of unique identification. The study also shows that there are links between the drivers behind the adoption of unique identities and the level of integration and improvements achieved. Therefore, the authors posit that managers intending to implement unique product IDs need to understand the importance of having the right organisational motivation to succeed. For firms already using unique product IDs, the authors stress that the greater the integration and information sharing, the greater the number of improvements which could be obtained.
Ekwall in his award-winning article “The displacement effect in cargo theft” analyzes why cargo theft continues to occur in the transport network despite all implemented countermeasures. Theft risk arises from different theft opportunities that will always be present in the transport network. The theory of crime displacement provides one likely explanation as to why the absolute reduction, instead of a theft pattern alteration, is very difficult to achieve. The findings substantiate research results in criminology that indicate that causality in crime displacement is hard to establish. The common sense feeling about the crime displacement theory that exists in the logistics business needs to be modified. This article maintains that the understanding of the relationship between potential perpetrators and theft preventing measures is a key issue to reduce theft problems within the transport network.
In another article on transport networks, Schönberger and Kopfer quantify different dimensions of flexibility when looking at “Transport system responsiveness improvement.” The authors argue that the coping of demand oscillation is an important challenge in dynamic transport planning and that a reliable request fulfillment must be provided even if the number of incoming requests temporarily climbs over the expected demand and resource scarceness appears. In order to solve this problem, the authors propose an innovative planning approach which enables a transportation fleet to maintain a sufficiently high percentage of timely fulfilled customer requests even in demand peak situations. The proposed methodology contributes to the current demand for computational support for increasing the responsiveness of logistics systems. The original contribution of this paper lies in the autonomous feedback-controlled adjustment of decision preferences, which enables a rolling horizon re-planning framework to maintain a stable output performance even if the input oscillates significantly over time.
Summa Summarum, this special issue is a kaleidoscope of Nordic research, this time from the quantitative perspective. Living up to its theme, it stretches the boundaries of existing logistics research to beyond business logistics, while maintaining its footing in traditional methods and research approaches. We therefore hope that this special issue will serve as a reference point for the variety of topics it deals with.
Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens