Banomyong, R. (2012), "Critical logistics and supply chain management issues in Asia", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 42 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijpdlm.2012.00542gaa.001Download as .RIS
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Critical logistics and supply chain management issues in Asia
Article Type: Editorial: greetings from the IJPDLM Asian Regional Editor From: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Volume 42, Issue 7
More effectively facilitating the efficient and effective flow and storage of goods, vehicles, people, information and service processes in Asia is increasingly recognized as being of key importance to the sustainable economic development and competitiveness of Asia. The intention of this editorial is to briefly describe five key Asian logistics issues that require research. By highlighting these issues, I also hope to encourage Asian logistics and SCM scholars to reflect upon the breadth of logistics and SCM research that needs to be undertaken within our Asian context. I also hope that Asian logistics and SCM scholars will consider the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management (IJPDLM) as the premier outlet for Asian logistics and supply chain management research. My appointment as Regional Editor for Asia reflects the ongoing mission of the publisher and co-editors for IJPDLM to be the “go to” global journal for logistics and SCM strategic research.
Asian logistics issues
In many Asian countries, the logistics-related infrastructure suffers from a number of shortcomings that are currently being addressed through national infrastructure investment programmes. It is important, however, that these programmes be complemented by “soft” measures that can help ensure optimal use of existing as well as planned infrastructure. This gap in the level of logistics-related infrastructure between the more developed and the less developed Asian economies has proven to be a critical hurdle for logistics integration in the region. Therefore, a more coordinated Asian approach to logistics infrastructure development is surely needed in order to synergize the various related infrastructure rehabilitation and development plans that are underway.
The Asian institutional environment related to logistics is probably the most challenging area in terms of logistics development as the scope of logistics encompasses more than one specific administration or state agency. This creates confusion among policy makers when assigning responsibilities on logistics issues. Institutions dealing with logistics are often highly complex and tend to lack coordination. The degree of involvement related to logistics varies considerably between ministries and agencies. Thus, those primarily and most directly involved may not have taken the lead roles they should have in order to ensure coordinated action and regulatory consistency. Depending on the agency or the ministry involved the perception of what constitutes logistics frequently differs. This is reflected in the limited availability of Asian logistics-related statistical data and industry information.
Logistics service providers (LSPs) are the forces behind the development of logistics services in the Asia. Their service provision capabilities will greatly influence the prospects of logistics to act as catalyst for intra-Asian and extra-Asian trade. There are, however, considerable differences in domestic, regional and international subsectors, particularly due to the presence of global service suppliers in the Asian logistics market. Currently, the majority of Asian logistics operators tend to cater only to specific elements of the chain with truly integrated services remaining relatively rare. Know-how transfer and capital injection will be required to remedy the situation, irrespective of whether these LSP companies act as independent suppliers or partners of international companies active in Asia and the rest of the world.
The challenge for traders, manufacturers or any users of logistics services in Asia is getting access to effective, efficient logistics at the lowest possible cost. This challenge is exacerbated by a lack of dedicated logistics systems in many Asian countries for key commodities such as agricultural produce or industrial commodities that requires specific facilities. This may be one of the reasons why logistics outsourcing is relatively limited in Asia. Furthermore, LSP service quality in Asia has not been conducive to firms positively considering potential cost advantages and efficiency gains based on outsourcing of logistics services.
Finally, the human resource development agenda cuts across all logistics activities. One of the most urgent problems of the Asian logistics sector is the scarcity of trained human resources in the public and private sectors. The lack of adequately trained logistics and SCM managers is a critical issue that adversely affects the development of logistics in the Asia. Manpower deficiencies can be observed with all Asian stakeholders and at all levels of operations and managerial decision making. There is therefore a need to develop training requirements that enhance logistics knowledge and skill sets in order to upgrade logistics skills and practices. More developed Asian economies could take a leading role in this ongoing mission.
Even though the level of logistics development in Asia is different between countries, many issues are similar albeit on a different scale. The observed common characteristics of Asian logistics are the lack of modal integration capacity in terms of infrastructure, the need to improve intra- and inter-agency coordination, low levels of logistics service quality and the lack of managers with adequate logistics knowledge and skills. In addition, there is a need to assess trade-offs between cost against service quality in Asian contexts so that more sophisticated logistics and SCM offerings can be considered by 3PL providers and their customers.
To this end, there is no logistics knowledge without logistics research! Each of these Asian logistics issues require Asian scholars to actively research and provide theoretically-grounded answers that help accelerate logistics connectivity both within and between countries in the region. The observed issues are not exhaustive and reflect the need for conducting additional research studies in order to establish an Asian logistics body of knowledge, with the IJPDLM as the preferred dissemination vehicle for Asian-based scholars. As IJPDLM’s Regional Editor for Asia, I sincerely hope that I can be a resource for helping regional scholars “push the envelope” to make this happen.
Manuscripts in this issue
The first paper co-authored by Alain De Beuckelaer and Stephan Wagner addresses the critical issue of small sample size in survey-based SCM research. This methodological discussion is a “must read” resource for supply chain scholars engaging in survey-based research who are often faced with limited samples sizes and low response rates but still need to provide analytical rigour.
The second paper focuses on green supply chain practices adopted by third party logistics providers (3PLs) in Italy. The authors of the research, Sara Perotti, Marta Zorzini, Enrico Cagno and Guido Micheli, observe that even though there is increasing interest in environmental issues, the adoption of green supply chain practices still remains limited among the respondent 3PL firms.
The third paper by Mari Olander and Andreas Norrman relates to a fascinating not often seen in IJPDLM and other SCM journals: legal analysis of the responsibility and liability of LSP firms while providing their services. The paper highlights the numerous contractual implications within a logistics contract that should be understood and considered by all parties involved. This manuscript represents a platform for additional research on legal aspects of SCM.
The fourth paper explores the inherent conflict that exists between maintaining collaborative relationships while simultaneously coping with time pressure. The authors; Brian Fugate, Rodney Thomas and Susan Golicic, report an adverse effect derived from time pressure that influences willingness to engage in key collaborative behaviours and relational norms.
On behalf of the IJPDLM editorial team, I hope our readership finds these four new papers both interesting and useful.