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Logistics flexibility: A systematic review
Jönköping University, School of Engineering, JTH, Industrial Engineering and Management.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7330-6500
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, ISSN 1741-0401, E-ISSN 1758-6658, Vol. 64, no 7, 947-970 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

There is a lack of consensus in conceptualizing and defining logistics flexibility as a distinct construct among supply chain scholars. The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyse the existing literature on logistics flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach

By taking a systematic approach to literature review, a total of 100 academic articles were content analysed. As a general framework, the classification broadly provided by Zhang, Vonderembse, & Lim (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) was applied in order to increase the consistency and validity of the review.

Findings

The results show that logistics flexibility has gained an increasing academic attention in the past two decades in terms of the number of published articles. First, the various terminologies often used in relation to logistics flexibility are explored. Second, the definitions of logistics flexibility at various levels of analysis are presented along with methodological considerations of the current literature. It is shown that most of the existing articles claim to study the matter at the chain level. The main methodological tools used in studying logistics flexibility are revealed as well as the fact that the majority of the empirical studies correspond to the manufacturing industry. Moreover, a synthesis of the principal measures used to gauge logistics flexibility is provided. Finally, current and emerging themes in logistics flexibility research are highlighted. The study also underlines the main measures used in studying logistics flexibility.

Research limitations/implications

This paper only focuses on academic articles published in journals and does not include other contributions such as books, etc. The systematic literature review facilitates further conceptual and empirical studies; however, more narrative literature reviews could complement the results of this study.

Originality/value

This paper is unique in the sense that it specifically reviews the literature on logistics flexibility in a systematic fashion. The content analysis has been carried out using NVivo 10 enabling the systematic nature of the review as well as increasing the pedagogical value of the method.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 64, no 7, 947-970 p.
Keyword [en]
Performance, Systematic literature review, Postponement, Uncertainty, Logistics flexibility
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25680DOI: 10.1108/IJPPM-05-2014-0069Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84942068204OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-25680DiVA: diva2:781176
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Postponement and Logistics Flexibility in Retailing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Postponement and Logistics Flexibility in Retailing
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation addresses several general logistics problems in retailing regarding meeting a variety of customer demand and availability, efficiency and effectiveness in carrying inventory, and increased logistics flexibility. It builds upon the well-established supply chain principle of postponement, and argues for the benefits associated with it in tackling certain logistics challenges. Classically, most of the scholarly contributions in logistics and supply chain management in relation to postponement and logistics flexibility deal with manufacturing firms. This thesis contributes to the current literature by studying the concepts in a retail context. It shows the contemporary application of postponement, and the potential benefits associated with it. It could serve as a hint for retail decision-makers on prioritizing certain logistics decisions regarding their desired performance.

The thesis aims to explore the application of postponement and logistics flexibility in retailing, and to investigate the resulting firm performance. It consists of a cover and a compilation of six articles, which serve to address three research questions. The thesis has a mixed methods design and consists of two empirical strands. The first two articles report two individually carried out systematic literature reviews on postponement and logistics flexibility, which serve as building blocks for the empirical strands. The first Strand, which consists of two empirical articles, includes qualitative case studies dealing with exploring how postponement is applied in retailing, seeking connections to logistics flexibility. Qualitative data is collected via a myriad of sources and tools. In Paper 3, data is collected on Media Markt, Jysk, and Lidl via interviews, and site visits, as well as from secondary sources on other supply chain actors, including service providers and product suppliers. Paper 4, explores a manifestation of postponement – customization – in upscale bicycle retailing in the nexus of retailers and consumers. It is built on qualitative data collected via interviews and netnography. The second Strand consists of two quantitative articles based on a cross-sectional survey of retailers in Sweden. Paper 5, which is of exploratory nature, deals with simplifying the complexities associated with logistics practices of retailers, and intends to provide a taxonomy of logistics configurations resulting from postponement and logistics flexibility. It also studies the performance differences of the identified groups of retailers. Finally, Paper 6 uses Structural Equation Modelling to explain the impact of postponement on logistics flexibility and well as that of the latter on firm performance. Also, the logistics flexibility-performance relationship is examined in the presence of uncertainty contingencies and logistics integration. Papers 5 and 6 use both strategic and financial measures of performance from subjective self-reported, as well as objective secondary sources.

The results of the thesis show that postponement is gaining increased attention among scholars and practitioners. There is an expanding tendency towards involving other supply chain actors, including logistics service providers and especially consumers, in postponement activities. The case studies point to the different approaches to logistics flexibility and varied performance of retailers. The taxonomy study based on the configuration approach in Paper 5 is an attempt to tackle the complexity in understanding the logistics practices of retailers. Three groups of retailers were identified regarding their logistics configurations based on postponement and logistics flexibility, labeled as Rigid, Speculative, and Responsive. These groups were compared in relation to their financial and strategic performance, and it was shown that if speculation and logistics flexibility are high, then financial performance would be generally higher. If postponement and logistics flexibility are high, then strategic performance would be higher. Also, the thesis provides empirical support for the role of postponement in increased logistics flexibility in retailing. Also, higher logistics flexibility was proven to be associated with higher strategic firm performance. The impact of logistics flexibility on firm performance was shown to be moderated by uncertainty as well as by logistics integrations. As a result, performance is higher when both logistics flexibility and uncertainty are higher or lower. However, logistics integration proved to have contrasting positive and negative moderating roles when considering strategic and financial performance respectively, which could be traced back to the potentially high monetary engagement connected to logistics integration. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, 2014. 338 p.
Series
JIBS Dissertation Series, ISSN 1403-0470 ; 100
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25690 (URN)978-91-86345-55-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-11, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Increasing Flexibility in Supply Chains through Postponement
Funder
Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council
Available from: 2015-01-20 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2016-10-13Bibliographically approved

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