Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
McKinnon, Alan C. (2017): Starry-eyed II: the logistics journal ranking debate revisited, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 47 (6): 431-446.
Abstract: Purpose In a previous paper (McKinnon, 2013), the author questioned the principle and practice of journal ranking and discussed its effects on logistics research. Since then several important developments have occurred prompting a fresh review of the issues. The paper summarises the results of this review with the aim of stimulating further discussion on the subject. Design/methodology/approach New literature on the journal ranking debate has been reviewed. The validity of the journal ranking as a proxy measure of paper quality is explored using data from the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment. Changes to the ranking of ten logistics/supply chain management (SCM) journals in four listings are analysed, and possible reasons for the relatively low status of the journals are examined. Findings The influence of journal rankings on the academic research process is strengthening while the debate about their legitimacy has intensified. UK REF data cast doubt on the reliability of the journal ranking as an indicator of a paper’s merit. Logistics/SCM journals continue to occupy mid-to-lower tier positions in most listings, though there has been some improvement in their standing. Research limitations/implications The paper aims to alert those managing and undertaking logistics research to the dangers of overreliance on journal rankings in the measurement of research quality and productivity. Practical implications The paper may help logistics/SCM scholars to defend the position of their discipline and resist journal-ranking-induced pressures to marginalise it and devalue its outputs. Social implications In this paper, academic recruitment, promotion and motivation are considered. Originality/value The paper sheds new light on the relationship between journal ranking and individual paper quality, on recent changes in the rating of logistics/SCM journals and on the wider debate about the use of bibliometrics in assessing research quality.
van Loon, Patricia, Lieven Deketele, Joost Dewaele, Alan C. McKinnon and Christine Rutherford (2016): A comparative analysis of carbon emissions from online retailing of fast moving consumer goods, Journal of Cleaner Production, 106: 478-486.
Abstract: Online retailing can lower the environmental impact of shopping under specific circumstances. As a result of the numerous variables involved, most of the studies that have compared the carbon footprints of online and conventional retailing only take a partial view. To make a more holistic assessment, this study develops a framework that accounts for all the relevant environmental factors relating to retail/e-commerce activities. Variables related to consumer shopping behaviour such as basket size, transport mode, trip length and trip frequency are included in the analysis. This framework is used to build a Life Cycle Analysis model. The model is applied to different online retail methods for fast-moving consumer goods in the United Kingdom. We find that, within the “last mile” link to the home, the nature of the consumer's behaviour in terms of travel, choice of e-fulfilment method and basket size are critical factors in determining the environmental sustainability of e-commerce. The nature and routing of van deliveries, the amount and type of packaging used, and the energy efficiency of shop and e-fulfilment centre operations are also identified as significant contributors to climate change potential. The results of this study indicate ways in which e-commerce can be made more environmentally sustainable, encouraging consumers to reduce complementary shopping trips and maximise the number of items per delivery. This study identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a range of e-retail channels and provides a basis for future research on the environmental sustainability of online retailing of fast-moving consumer goods.
McKinnon, Alan C. (2016): The Possible Impact of 3D Printing and Drones on Last-mile Logistics: an Exploratory Study, Built Environment, 42 (4): 576-588.
Abstract: 3D printing and drones may have the potential to transform the movement of freight in urban areas, particularly on the so-called 'last mile' to the home. This paper reviews available evidence on the likely scalability of these innovations in a city logistics context and assesses their possible impact on urban traffic levels. The research is essentially exploratory as the application of these innovations to urban logistics is at a very early stage. The evidence comes mainly from published sources, supplemented by discussions with a mixed group of researchers and practitioners. It suggests that both innovations would have the potential to transform city logistics if their adoption rates were high. The rapid growth of online retailing is conducive to a high level of uptake. There are, however, good reasons for believing that their application will remain limited, at least in the short to medium term. Their diffusion will be constrained by several factors including a lack of scale economies, limited value-add and regulation.
McKinnon, Alan C. (2016): Freight Transport Deceleration: Its Possible Contribution to the Decarbonisation of Logistics, Transport Reviews, 36 (4): 418-436.
Abstract: Abstract The paper challenges the conventional view that the movement of goods through supply chains must continue to accelerate. The compression of freight transit times has been one of the most enduring logistics trends but may not be compatible with governmental climate change policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60–80% by 2050. Opportunities for cutting CO2 emissions by ‘despeeding’ are explored within a freight decarbonisation framework and split into three categories: direct, indirect and consequential. Discussion of the direct carbon savings focuses on the trucking and deep-sea container sectors, where there is clear evidence that slower operation cuts cost, energy and emissions and can be accommodated within current supply chain requirements. Indirect emission reductions could accrue from more localised sourcing and a relaxation of just-in-time (JIT) replenishment. Acceleration of logistical activities other than transport could offset increases in freight transit times, allowing the overall carbon intensity of supply chains to reduce with minimal loss of performance. Consequential deceleration results from other decarbonisation initiatives such as freight modal split and a shift to lower carbon fuels. Having reviewed evidence drawn from a broad range of sources, the paper concludes that freight deceleration is a promising decarbonisation option, but raises a number of important issues that will require new empirical research.
Liu, Xiaohong and Alan C. McKinnon (2016): Theory development in China-based supply chain management research: A literature review, The International Journal of Logistics Management, 27 (3): 972-1001.
Abstract: Purpose Although well established in North America and Europe, the study of supply chain management (SCM) is still at a relatively early stage in its development in China. The transformation and rapid growth of the Chinese economy has, nevertheless, created major supply chain challenges for the country making SCM a very fertile area of business research. In Western countries, research on SCM is now mature and underpinned by a solid body of theory. The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which research on SCM in China has also developed a theoretical basis. Design/methodology/approach The research involved a systematic review of 150 papers published in 18 journals in the fields of SCM, logistics, operations management and marketing during the period 2004-2014. A three-step process was adopted to select appropriate journals, identify relevant articles and classify them in terms of their theoretical content. Findings The study has confirmed that, because of its unique economic, political and cultural setting, supply chain development in China has presented new research challenges. Many examples were found of researchers conducting quasi-experiments to test the applicability of established theories to Chinese supply chains while others have tried to develop new ones that are more closely aligned with the Chinese economy and management practices. Researchers have exhibited a heavy reliance on existing theories, with relatively few attempting to customise them to the Chinese context or to construct new ones. Research limitations/implications Given the broad scope of SCM, it is possible that the journal and paper selection processes have accidentally screened out relevant papers. The total sample of papers is, nevertheless, large for an explorative study of this type and should, therefore, give an overall impression of the level of theory development in Chinese SCM research. Practical implications This study provides a general framework within which to assess the application and development of theories in the Chinese SCM context. It is principally concerned with three components: the SCM phenomena studied, the Chinese business environment and the theoretical contribution of the research. The paper is targeted more at an academic audience than practitioners, though provides an overview of the research so far undertaken on SCM in China that should be of wider interest. Originality/value This study is the first of its kind to review China-based SCM research systematically from the perspective of theory development. It should support the evolution of SCM theory not only in China but also more generally.
Acciaro, Michele and Alan C. McKinnon (2015): Carbon emissions from container shipping: An analysis of new empirical evidence, International Journal of Transport Economics, 42 (2): 211-228.
Abstract: In the last decade researchers have been looking at ways of reducing the carbonintensity of shipping operations that globally account for approximately 3 % of world carbonemissions. As a result of regulation and firms’ efforts to innovate, the maritime sectorhas introduced new technologies and practices such as slow steaming which have contributedto reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere. The impact of technologicaland operational developments on global GHG emissions is difficult to assess, however,without empirical evidence. So far such evidence has been only partially available and mostof the data sources used in the literature have been compiled for different purposes or arebased on single firm case studies.This paper reports the results of an analysis of a fuel consumption database compiled bythe BSR Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG) with the specific purpose of benchmarking andcollecting emission data and comprising 2,300 container ship voyages (reporting year 2013,data for 2012). This analysis has examined the effect of technical and operational parameterson these vessels’ fuel consumption and emissions and is the first to be performed on the datasetand in general on self-reported data across multiple companies. In 2012, carriers in theCCWG accounted for approximately 65% of total world deep-sea container traffic.The paper outlines an econometric model that regresses carbon emissions from containershipping on particular trade routes against a range of independent variables, suchas vessel age, size and average speed. The paper results indicate that significant differencesexist among carriers both in terms of energy efficiency and carbon intensity. The analysisalso suggests that while the emission profiles of some trade routes have remained relativelystable in recent years, others have witnessed an increase in emissions mainly as a result of aconcentration of container flows. By improving our understanding of the determinants ofcarbon emissions from container shipping, this research should help shipping lines developcarbon-reduction plans and governments to devise appropriate policies to incentivise thedecarbonisation of the maritime sector.
Figueroa, Maria, Oliver Lah, Lewis M. Fulton, Alan C. McKinnon and Geetam Tiwari (2014): Energy for Transport, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 39: 295-325.
Abstract: Global transportation energy use is steeply rising, mainly as a result of increasing population and economic activity. Petroleum fuels remain the dominant energy source, reflecting advantages such as high energy density, low cost, and market availability. The movement of people and freight makes a major contribution to economic development and social well-being, but it also negatively impacts climate change, air quality, health, social cohesion, and safety. Following a review published 20 years ago in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources (then named the Annual Review of Energy and the Environment) by Lee Schipper, we examine current trends and potential futures, revising several major global transport/energy reports. There are significant opportunities to slow travel growth and improve efficiency. Alternatives to petroleum exist but have different characteristics in terms of availability, cost, distribution, infrastructure, storage, and public acceptability. The transition to low-carbon equitable and sustainable transport will take time but can be fostered by numerous short- and medium-term strategies that would benefit energy security, health, productivity, and sustainability.
van Loon, Patricia, Alan C. McKinnon, Lieven Deketele and Joost Dewaele (2014): The Growth of Online Retailing: a Review of its Carbon Impacts, Carbon Management, 5 (3).
Abstract: This paper examines the carbon impact of online retailing and compares it with that of conventional retailing. It discusses the effect of varying the scope of the calculation, the system boundaries and the underlying assumptions. While most of the carbon emissions come from the last-mile delivery, this is also the activity whose carbon intensity is most sensitive to assumptions made about consumer behavior. On the basis of an extensive literature review, the paper also explores the carbon impacts of the upstream supply chain, energy use in information and communication technology and several aspects of travel behavior. This should help researchers to make wider and more realistic assessments of the environmental impact of online retailing. On the basis of these assessments, one can test the conditions under which online shopping is likely to have a lower carbon footprint.
McKinnon, Alan C. (2013): The possible influence of the shipper on carbon emissions from deep-sea container supply chains: An empirical analysis, Maritime Economics & Logistics, 16 (1): 1-19.
Abstract: This article examines the extent to which shippers can influence the level of carbon emissions from the deep-sea container supply chain. It uses data collected in an online questionnaire survey of 34 large UK shippers, supplemented by the results of focus group discussions and interviews with a range of key stakeholders, including shipping lines, freight forwarders, logistics companies and port operators. The online sample comprised shippers responsible for inbound and/or outbound deep-sea containers flows. The amount of leverage that they can exert on ‘carbon-sensitive’ decisions depends partly on the Incoterms that they employ and their use of freight forwarders. Many large shippers still retain significant influence over the choice of carriers used for deep-sea and port feeder services, consignment routing and scheduling and the choice of port. Shippers responsible for inbound flows reported high levels of container fill, though opportunities exist for improving the weight utilisation of outbound containers, possibly by moving to a port-centric logistics model. Around 40 per cent of the shippers consulted currently measure CO2 emissions from their deep-sea container supply chains with only 6 per cent explicitly implementing carbon reduction initiatives. The research shows the importance of adopting a broader supply chain approach to decarbonisation in the maritime sector and emphasises the need for a multi-stakeholder perspective that recognises the important role of the shipper in the process.
Piecyk, Maja I. and Alan C. McKinnon (2013): Application of the Delphi method to the forecasting of long-term trends in road freight, logistics and related CO2 emissions, International Journal of Transport Economics, 15 (2): 241-266.
Abstract: This article, from a special issue on freight transport, describes the use of the Delphi method to forecast long-term trends in road freight, logistics, and related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A Delphi survey usually involves sending a first-round questionnaire to a number of respondents, collating and analyzing the data, and then recirculating the questionnaire, along with a summary of the results. The respondents are asked to confirm or modify their previous responses. The authors note that the Delphi survey method is a popular forecasting technique that is particularly useful in mid- and long-term forecasting. They use a case study of a large two-round Delphi survey undertaken in the United Kingdom (UK) to elicit projections of long-term trends in road freight and logistics variables. These projections were then used to model UK road freight-related CO2 emissions up to the year 2020. One section compares the results found in the Delphi study with five other studies on the topic: Mobility 2030; European Energy and Transport Trends to 2030 (EET); the Great Britain Freight Model (GBFM); the National Transport Model (NTM); and TREMOVE, a transport and emission model developed for the European Commission. The authors conclude that, in situations where disaggregated forecast is required to gain insight and exploration of reasons behind predicted future trends is sought, the Delphi method combined with the survey technique offers a valuable instrument to elicit reliable projections.
McKinnon, Alan C. (2013): Starry-eyed: journal rankings and the future of logistics research, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 43 (1): 6-17.
Abstract: Purpose – This is a polemical paper challenging both the principle and practice of journal ranking. In recent years academics and their institutions have become obsessive about the star‐ratings of the journals in which they publish. In the UK this is partly attributed to quinquennial reviews of university research performance though preoccupation with journal ratings has become an international phenomenon. The purpose of this paper is to examine the arguments for and against these ratings and argue that, on balance, they are having a damaging effect on the development of logistics as an academic discipline.Design/methodology/approach – The arguments advanced in the paper are partly substantiated by references to the literature on the ranking of journals and development of scientific research. A comparison is made of the rating of logistics publications in different journal ranking systems. The views expressed in the paper are also based on informal discussions with numerous academics in logistics and other fields, and long experience as a researcher, reviewer and journal editor.Findings – The ranking of journals gives university management a convenient method of assessing research performance across disciplines, though has several disadvantages. Among other things, it can skew the choice of research methodology, lengthen publication lead times, cause academics to be disloyal to the specialist journals in their field, favour theory over practical relevance and unfairly discriminate against relatively young disciplines such as logistics. Research evidence suggests that journal ratings are not a good proxy for the value and impact of an article. The paper aims to stimulate a debate on the pros and cons of journal rankings and encourage logistics academics to reflect on the impact of these rankings on their personal research plans and the wider development of the field. Research limitations/implications – The review of journal ranking systems is confined to three countries, the UK, Germany and Australia. The analysis of journal ranking was also limited to 11 publications with the word logistics or supply chain management. The results of this review and analysis, however, provide sufficient evidence to support the main arguments advanced in the paper.Practical implications – The paper asserts that the journal ranking system is encouraging a retreat into ivory towers where academics become more interested in impressing each other with their intellectual brilliance than in doing research that is of real value to the outside world. Originality/value – Many logistics academics are concerned about the situation and trends outlined in this paper, but find it very difficult to challenge the prevailing journal ranking orthodoxy. This paper may give them greater confidence to question the value of the journal ranking systems that are increasing dominating academic life.
Evangelista, Pietro, Alan C. McKinnon and Edward Sweeney (2013): Technology adoption in small and medium-sized logistics providers, Industrial Management & Data Systems, 113 (7): 967-989.
Abstract: Purpose – The main aim of the research is to shed light on the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the logistics innovation process of small and medium‐sized third party logistics providers (3PLs).Design/methodology/approach – A triangulated research strategy was designed using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The former involved the use of a questionnaire survey of small and medium‐sized Italian 3PLs with 153 usable responses received. The latter comprised a series of focus groups and the use of seven case studies.Findings – There is a relatively low level of ICT expenditure with few companies adopting formal technology investment strategies. The findings highlight the strategic importance of supply chain integration for 3PLs with companies that have embarked on an expansion of their service portfolios showing a higher level of both ICT usage and information integration. Lack of technology skills in the workforce is a major constraint on ICT adoption. Given the proliferation of logistics‐related ICT tools and applications in recent years it has been difficult for small and medium‐sized 3PLs to select appropriate applications.Research limitations/implications – The paper provides practical guidelines to researchers in the effective use of mixed‐methods research based on the concept of methodological triangulation. In particular, it shows how questionnaire surveys, focus groups and case study analysis can be used in combination to provide insights into multi‐faceted supply chain phenomena. It also identifies several potentially fruitful avenues for future research in this specific field.Practical implications – The paper's findings provide useful guidance for practitioners on the effective adoption of ICT as part of the logistics innovation process. The findings also provide support for ICT vendors in the design of ICT solutions that are aligned to the needs of small 3PLs.Originality/value – There is currently a paucity of research into the drivers and inhibitors of ICT in the innovation processes of small and medium‐sized 3PLs. This paper fills this gap by exploring the issue using a range of complementary research approaches.
Liimatainen, Heikki, Pekka Stenholm, Petri Tapio and Alan C. McKinnon (2012): Energy efficiency practices among road freight hauliers, Energy Policy Special Section: Past and Prospective Energy Transitions - Insights from History, 50: 833-842.
Abstract: The reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) is a highly prevalent public policy goal among European Union member countries. In the new White Paper on transport, the role of road freight transports in this is strongly emphasized. This far, however, the efficiency practices utilised in logistics firms are less studied. Drawing from policy goals and new survey data on 295 road transport firms our results show that hauliers are aware of the possible energy efficiency actions but lack the knowledge and resources to fully utilize them. Energy efficiency seems also to be unimportant for many shippers, so there are no incentives for hauliers to improve it. Examples from various countries show that clear energy efficiency improvements can be achieved with active cooperation between hauliers, shippers and policy makers. Such cooperation can be developed in Finland through the sectoral energy efficiency agreements. The novelty and the utility of these results allow scholars to answer important open questions in the national-level determinants of enhancing energy efficiency practices among road freight hauliers, and contribute to our understanding of how these can be fostered in public policies.
McKinnon, Alan C. and Maja I. Piecyk (2012): Setting targets for reducing carbon emissions from logistics: current practice and guiding principles, Carbon Management, 3 (6): 629-639.
Abstract: This article examines the different approaches that companies can take to setting targets for the reduction of carbon emissions from their logistics operations. The research suggests that target-setting practices differ widely in this field. It is common for firms simply to apply corporate-level targets to logistics, despite the fact that carbon abatement potential and cost–effectiveness vary by function and activity. A small minority of firms have systematically analyzed the possible carbon savings from specific interventions and technologies. To improve their credibility and consistency, carbon reduction targets need to conform to certain principles. The article proposes a series of principles applicable to the decarbonization of logistics. It is based mainly on a literature review, semi-structured interviews with a sample of logistics managers and involvement in an industry-wide initiative to cut logistics-related carbon emissions.
Xing, Yuan, David B. Grant, Alan C. McKinnon and John Fernie (2011): The interface between retailers and logistics service providers in the online market, European Journal of Marketing, 45 (3): 334-357.
Abstract: Purpose – The growth in online shopping has presented challenges for physical distribution service quality (PDSQ) provided by retailers, including both multi-channel and pure players, and logistics service providers (LSPs). Issues emerging from a consumer survey regarding electronic physical distribution service quality (e-PDSQ) informed this paper's research, which aims to consider this phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach – The research study employed qualitative interviews with retailers, logistics service providers and experts to consider the consumer survey findings and discuss the current market situation and suggestions for improvement. Findings – Interviewees confirmed that pure players offer better e-PDSQ than multi-channel retailers as well as important constructs of availability, time, condition and returns regarding this phenomenon, but also raised issues of relationships between retailers and LSPs and costs regarding service trade-offs. Research limitations/implications – The research undertaken was exploratory and will require further and wider testing in other contexts and geographical areas to assure external validity. Practical implications – The findings have strategic importance for online retailers and LSPs to achieve competitive advantage and offer superior customer service. Originality/value – This paper extends earlier, limited work on e-PDSQ and considers retailer and LSP points of view concerning previous research into consumer expectations and perceptions of e-PDSQ.
Edwards, Julia B., Alan C. McKinnon and Sharon L. Cullinane (2011): Comparative carbon auditing of conventional and online retail supply chains: a review of methodological issues, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 16 (1): 57-63.
Abstract: Purpose – This paper seeks to examine the various stages in online and conventional retail supply chains in order to assess their relative environmental impacts. With reference to boundary issues, utilisation factors and carbon allocation, it seeks to highlight some of the difficulties in establishing a robust carbon auditing methodology.Design/methodology/approach – Auditing issues are considered from the point of divergence in the respective supply chains (downstream of this point a product is destined either for conventional or online retailing channels, and will receive different treatment accordingly).Findings – The paper explores methodological issues associated with carbon auditing conventional and online retail channels. Having highlighted the problems, it suggests resolutions to these issues.Research limitations/implications – The paper is mostly conceptual in nature.Practical implications – The approach outlined in this paper, once applied, allows the identification of inefficiencies in the respective retail supply chains.Originality/value – The paper is the first to discuss carbon auditing in relation to upstream supply chain analysis for both conventional and online retail channels. Previous work has tended to focus on the last mile delivery.
McKinnon, Alan C. (2010): Product-level carbon auditing of supply chains: Environmental imperative or wasteful distraction?, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 40 (1/2): 42-60.
Abstract: Interest in product‐level carbon auditing and labelling has been growing in both business and government circles. This paper examines the practical problems and costs associated with highly disaggregated analyses of greenhouse gas emissions from supply chains. It then weighs these problems and costs against the potential benefits of the carbon labelling of products. The conclusion is that product-level carbon auditing of supply chains and the related carbon labelling of products will be fraught with difficulty and very costly. While simplification of the auditing process, the use of data inventories and software support may assist these processes, the practicality of applying them to all consumer products seems very doubtful. The resulting environmental benefits are also highly questionable. The main conclusion, therefore, is that product‐level carbon auditing and labelling is a “wasteful distraction” and that it would be better to devote management time and resources to other decarbonisation initiatives.
Liu, Xiaohong, Alan C. McKinnon, David B. Grant and Yuanhua Feng (2010): Sources of competitiveness for logistics service providers: a UK industry perspective, Logistics Research, 2 (1): 23-32.
Abstract: This paper empirically examines perceptions on the sources of competitiveness for logistics service providers (LSPs) drawing on two influential theories of strategic management, Porter’s competitive advantage theory and the resource-based view (RBV). In contrast to most previous studies of third-party logistics which have viewed the subject from the user’s perspective, this study investigates the perceptions of competitiveness primarily from the LSP’s point of view. It is based on questionnaire data which was collected from UK LSP managers. Standard statistical techniques were applied for the analysis. The empirical results reveal that capabilities are considered most important among the factors of competitiveness suggested by theory. The most critical aspect of an LSP’s capabilities was found to be the service quality capability. At a more theoretical level, the study adds new evidence on the relative explanatory power of the two theories of strategic management used: it indicates that the RBV is the more appropriate in the context given, suggesting that capabilities (i.e., endogenous factor) inside companies are more important in leading to an LSP’s competitiveness and need greater attention than the environmental factors.
McKinnon, Alan C. (2010): Green logistics: the carbon agenda, LogForum 6, 3, 1.
Abstract: This paper presents a framework for the decarbonisation of their logistical activities based on five key freight transport parameters: freight transport intensity, modal split, vehicle utilization, energy efficiency and the carbon intensity of the energy used in logistics. It examines the potential to cut GHG emissions by altering each of these parameters. Consideration is also given to the decarbonisation of warehousing operations. It is concluded that many of the GHG reduction measures will also yield financial benefit. The decarbonisation of other sectors of the economy may, however, generate greater demand for logistics services.
Rodrigues, Vasco Sanchez, Maja I. Piecyk, Andrew Potter, Alan C. McKinnon, Mohamed Naim and Julia B. Edwards (2010): Assessing the application of focus groups as a method for collecting data in logistics, International Journal of Logistics: Research and Applications, 13 (1): 75-94.
Abstract: Relatively little attention has been given to methodological issues in the logistics literature. In logistics, ‘we need to take more account of the views of practitioners in the field by supporting quantitative data with qualitative data’ [New, S.J. and Payne, P. (1995). Research frameworks in logistics: three models, seven dinners and a survey. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 25(10), 60–77]. The aim of this paper is to provide a guide on how to deploy focus groups as a supportive method to achieve industrial relevance without compromising the academic rigour of logistics research. We develop a framework that highlights the factors influencing focus groups’ effectiveness in the logistics discipline. Our analysis is based on previous focus groups research applied in logistics and on focus group cases discussed in the paper. We conclude that the focus group method for data collection can be used as a supporting method in logistics research, enabling methodological triangulation that improves the credibility of research results.
Xing, Yuan, David B. Grant, Alan C. McKinnon and John Fernie (2010): Physical distribution service quality in online retailing, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 40 (5): 415-432.
Abstract: This paper develops a theoretical framework and empirically investigates physical distribution service (PDS) quality by Internet retailers in their transactions with consumers. An analysis of data that measure hundreds of electronic commerce transactions along with data at the firm level shows that higher shipping and handling charges are good indicators of better PDS quality. Other transaction-level conditions and firm-level attributes also affect PDS quality, as measured by availability, timeliness, and reliability. Most notably, when the net price of products transacted increases, PDS reliability and availability decline. Furthermore, Internet-retailer size is found to favor PDS availability whereas, surprisingly, newer Internet retailers exhibit a higher level of PDS availability than many of their incumbent competitors.
Piecyk, Maja I. and Alan C. McKinnon (2010): Forecasting the carbon footprint of road freight transport in 2020, International Journal of Production Economics, 128 (1): 31-42.
Abstract: This paper reports on research undertaken to determine the baseline trends in logistics and supply chain management and associated environmental effects up to 2020. Factors affecting freight transport demand, truck fuel consumption and related CO2 emissions are classified into six categories in relation to different levels of logistical decision-making. The projections are based on the results of seven focus group discussions and a large-scale Delphi survey. Three scenarios are constructed to assess CO2 emission levels from road freight transport in 2020. The likely changes in the key logistics variables are discussed and the complexity of the problem is highlighted.
Liu, Xiaohong, David B. Grant, Alan C. McKinnon and Yuanhua Feng (2010): An empirical examination of the contribution of capabilities to the competitiveness of logistics service providers: A perspective from China, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 40 (10): 847-866.
Abstract: Purpose – This paper aims to report on an investigation of logistics service provider (LSP) capabilities and how these capabilities contribute to LSP competitiveness in the context of China. Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on work from economics and strategy on firm-level competitiveness, particularly the resource-based view, to develop and empirically examined 13 firm-specific capability constructs based on a survey of Chinese LSPs. Findings – Exploratory factor analysis and factor analysis regression indicated all 13 constructs are critical to a Chinese LSP's competitiveness and are interlinked in contributing to it. The findings also revealed the most critical capability is service quality; this capability was further assessed and two sub-constructs of operations and relationship management emerged. Practical implications – The results of the empirical study provide a useful way for LSP managers to identify and appraise their firm's capabilities and competitiveness. Originality/value – This study contributes by addressing a gap of empirical research concerning LSP competitiveness and capabilities.
Fernie, John, Leigh Sparks and Alan C. McKinnon (2010): Retail logistics in the UK: past, present and future, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 38 (11/12): 894-914.
Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the logistical transformation of British retailing over the last three decades and discusses the likely challenges that logistics managers will face in the future. It shows how large British retailers seized control of the supply chain and have used logistics as a competitive differentiator. Examples are drawn from the grocery and fashion clothing sectors. Future challenges will include configuring logistical systems to multi-channel retailing, reducing the carbon intensity of retail supply chains and exploiting major advances in ICT.
Edwards, Julia B., Alan C. McKinnon and Sharon L. Cullinane (2010): Comparative analysis of the carbon footprints of conventional and online retailing: A “last mile” perspective, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 40 (1/2): 103-123.
Abstract: PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to focus on the carbon intensity of “last mile” deliveries (i.e. deliveries of goods from local depots to the home) and personal shopping trips.Design/methodology/approachSeveral last mile scenarios are constructed for the purchase of small, non‐food items, such as books, CDs, clothing, cameras and household items. Official government data, operational data from a large logistics service provider, face‐to‐face and telephone interviews with company managers and realistic assumptions derived from the literature form the basis of the calculations. Allowance has been made for home delivery failures, “browsing” trips to the shops and the return of unwanted goods.FindingsOverall, the research suggests that, while neither home delivery nor conventional shopping has an absolute CO2 advantage, on average, the home delivery operation is likely to generate less CO2 than the typical shopping trip. Nevertheless, CO2 emissions per item for intensive/infrequent shopping trips by bus could match online shopping/home delivery.Research limitations/implicationsThe number of items purchased per shopping trip, the choice of travel mode and the willingness to combine shopping with other activities and to group purchases into as few shopping trips or online transactions as possible are shown to be critical factors. Online retailers and home delivery companies could also apply measures (e.g. maximising drop densities and increasing the use of electric vehicles) to enhance the CO2 efficiency of their logistical operations and gain a clearer environmental advantage.Practical implicationsBoth consumers and suppliers need to be made more aware of the environmental implications of their respective purchasing behaviour and distribution methods so that potential CO2 savings can be made.Originality/valueThe paper offers insights into the carbon footprints of conventional and online retailing from a “last mile” perspective.