Prof. Dr. Alan C. McKinnon | KLU

Professor Alan McKinnon

Prof. Dr. Alan C. McKinnon

Professor of Logistics

From 1979 to 1987, Professor Alan McKinnon lectured and researched in economic geography and transport at the University of Leicester in the UK. Between 1987 and 2012 he was based at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and appointed full professor there in 1995.  During his time at Heriot-Watt he established a research center specializing in logistics and a master’s program in logistics and supply chain management. In 2014, he was appointed an Emeritus Professor of Heriot-Watt University. Professor McKinnon has an MA degree in geography from the University of Aberdeen, an MSc in transportation studies from the University of British Columbia and a PhD from the University of London.

Professor Alan McKinnon has been lecturing, researching and advising on logistics since 1979. His PhD, on physical distribution in the food industry, was one of the first doctoral studies conducted in the UK on logistics. He has conducted over fifty studies for numerous public and private sector organisations, published extensively in the logistics and transport literature and generally supported the development of logistics as an academic discipline. He has edited two journals and is currently on the editorial boards of six others. In 1996 he was one of the six founder members of the Logistics Research Network, which has grown into one of the largest networks of academics specializing in logistics in the world. In 2003 he received the highest distinction of the UK Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, the Sir Robert Lawrence award, for his long track record in logistics research and education. He has had visiting professorships at universities in Australia, Malaysia, China, Italy and Sweden and lectured in over 30 countries. In 2010 he was appointed chairman of the World Economic Forum’s industry council on logistics and supply chain management. In 2012 he was one of two academics appointed to the High Level Group on Logistics established by the European Commission to advise the EU Transport Commissioner on logistics issues.

Professor McKinnon has undertaken research on a broad spectrum of logistics topics. Some of his work has focused on the logistical strategies of retailers and development of new distribution systems to support online retailing. He has also investigated the growth of freight transport, capacity utilization in the freight sector, road tolling systems for freight vehicles and the case for increasing truck size and weight limits. In the late 1990s he pioneered new approaches to measuring and benchmarking the efficiency of road freight operations which have been widely applied in the UK. Other studies have examined the changing land and energy requirements of logistics, the outsourcing of logistical activities and the links between logistics and economic development. A long term interest in the environmental impact of logistics has culminated over the past years in research on the opportunities for decarbonizing logistics. Professor McKinnon has written several reports for government agencies and industry bodies on the measurement and reduction of carbon emissions from freight transport.  He is a lead author of the transport chapter in the 5th Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which will be published in 2014.
Much of Professor McKinnon’s research has informed public policy at both UK and international levels. In 2011, for example, he was appointed by the European Commission to three expert groups examining EU funding of transport research, the development of transport technology and the promotion of sustainable logistics.  He has also advised several parliamentary committees and government departments in the UK and international organisations such as the International Transport Forum, International Energy Agency and OECD.

Professor Alan McKinnon joined KLU in January 2012. He aims to expand and diversify the research being undertaken at KLU on logistics and supply chain management, partly with the support of his extensive network of contacts in business, government and academia.

For more details about Professor Alan McKinnon, including downloads of research articles and white papers, please visit his academic homepage at