The latest trends in logistics and SCM research

What is at the forefront of current research in supply chain management and logistics right now? I know, thanks to to Gyöngi Kovács at, who attended the NOFOMA 2009 conference a couple of days ago. At the conference, Emerald, one of the world’s leading publishers of management journals, presented some statistics on which articles that were most downloaded from their online journals during the first quarter of 2009. Update: To read what the latest trends are in 2011 and which forces that are expected to be a major trend towards 2020, please see my post on Future Value Chains and Strategies for 2020.

Top of the pops

Why are downloads interesting? As more and more journals go online, the number of downloads an article has measures how popular or sought after an article is. Downloads are interesting because they not only reveal what is read but also which topics academics currently work on or what ‘previous’ and ‘published’ research they use in their current work. So what DO academics work on? Mind you, the list is based on the Emerald statistics for IJLM, IJPDLM and SCM:IJ, so it is highly selective and highly biased, and thus not fully representative. Nonetheless, it does suggest that some themes have a higher readership than others:

I am not at all surprised that corporate responsibility and green/reverse logistics rank high on the list, and they are certainly not going to be less popular in the future. Update: To read what the latest trends are in 2011 and which forces that are expected to be a major trend towards 2020, please see my post on Future Value Chains and Strategies for 2020.

Other hotbeds

Several other fields also make an impact, and again, no surprises here:

You may also be interested in Hameri and Hintsa (2009) and what they wrote about trends and drivers for international supply chains.

And the trend?

Well, quoting Gyöngi,

Integration, CSR, risk management, even humanitarian logistics were already hot topics the last time we looked at them. Optimisation doesn’t make the list any more – though that can be due to the convenience sample of these very journals. The same goes for customisation and modularisation, and supply chain design. “Global” this and that has been dropped.

So now you know what to research, if you want to be in the hot seat.

And I have a lot of reading to do…


Pålsson, H., & Johansson, O. (2009). Supply chain integration obtained through uniquely labelled goods: A survey of Swedish manufacturing industries International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 39 (1), 28-46 DOI: 10.1108/09600030910929174

Christopher, M., & Lee, H. (2004). Mitigating supply chain risk through improved confidence International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 34 (5), 388-396 DOI: 10.1108/09600030410545436

Hanafi, J., Kara, S., & Kaebernick, H. (2008). Reverse logistics strategies for end-of-life products The International Journal of Logistics Management, 19 (3), 367-388 DOI: 10.1108/09574090810919206

Masson, R., Iosif, L., MacKerron, G., & Fernie, J. (2007). Managing complexity in agile global fashion industry supply chains The International Journal of Logistics Management, 18 (2), 238-254 DOI: 10.1108/09574090710816959

Cho, J., Ozment, J., & Sink, H. (2008). Logistics capability, logistics outsourcing and firm performance in an e-commerce market International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 38 (5), 336-359 DOI: 10.1108/09600030810882825

Spekman, R., & II, P. (2006). RFID: from concept to implementation International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 36 (10), 736-754 DOI: 10.1108/09600030610714571



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  • Betty Feng

    Thanks for referencing my article. Reverse Logistics has been overlooked by many organization in the past. But it starts to draw much more attentions because of green initiatives.

    Value chain will be another area worth organization to invest to create more value for their customers. Supply chain is just part of value chain.


    • Jan Husdal

      You’re welcome! You write well, you managed to bring out the main points very clearly, and I enjoyed reading your åpost so it was only natural for me to reference it. Keep up the good work!

  • rosheen

    i’m a logistics management student..
    we have a research project about the current trends in logistics.. hope you can give me some articles about it.. thank you..

    • Jan Husdal

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Unfortunately I do have any articles besides the ones mentioned in this post, because my focus is on supply chain risk and related subjects. I notice other trends that are going on, but they are not so much my concern.

  • Erenay

    I am doing research on Supply Chain Reliability. Would you please suggest some recent articles about supply chain reliability for reading?

    • Jan Husdal

      Dear Erenay,

      Many of the papers I have reviewed on this blog deal with supply chain risk, and hence, conversely, with supply chain reliability. The best way would be to search for “supply chain reliability” using the Search page on this blog. Neureuther and Kenyon (2009) is a good starting point.

  • Prithvi Patil


    I am an Environmental Engineer planning to pursue part-time MBA with concentration in SCM. I would like your opinion on the future of supply chain sustainability. Is it worth getting a degree in SCM not knowing what the future entails.

    • Jan Husdal

      Hello Prithvi and thank you for your question.

      While there have been many trends in SCM and logistics, some of them passing, some of them more permanent, in my personal opinion I would say that the sustainable supply chain movement and also corporate social responsibility is here to stay. Even within SSCM there is considerable variability. While I cannot give you an advice on what particular area in SSCM to focus on, what I can say is that yes, SSCM is worth pursuing.

  • pritee

    hello, i am a research scholar,i want to do research in risk management .would you please suggest some recent articles and current research in risk management.

    • Jan Husdal

      Hello Pritee and thank you for your comment. There many articles I could think of, but I suggest you look at my posts with the risk management tag.

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