Liu, Xiaohong and Alan C. McKinnon

Practical relevance of theory-driven supply chain management research

The International Journal of Logistics Management, 30 (1): 95-76, (2019).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1108/IJLM-12-2017-0337

Abstract: Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which theory-driven supply chain management (SCM) research is of practical relevance. It does this on the basis of empirical research in China. Design/methodology/approach A two-pronged approach was adopted. First, 57 theory-driven SCM studies based in China published in ten leading journals between 2006 and 2015 were surveyed. Second, a questionnaire survey of Chinese managers identified their practical concerns and assessed their alignment with the content of the academic papers. Findings Some academic research on SCM does probe industry-relevant problems. From an academic perspective, this confirms that theory-driven SCM research can be of practical value. Overall, however, the survey found that much of the SCM research works do not translate into actionable knowledge for practitioners. Academic research in this field could pursue a more pragmatic path and enhance its practical utility. Two critical components of this path, “practical observation” and “practical verification,” are highlighted. Research limitations/implications As the literature review was confined to ten leading journals, relevant papers in other journals were possibly excluded. The research was confined to China and so the results are not necessarily generalizable to other countries. Practical implications Chinese academics and practitioners could collaborate in defining research agendas and directions. This would help researchers direct their theory building to issues of relevance to business. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the relevance of theory-driven SCM research from academic and practitioner perspectives in China. It shows how this research might have greater impact on business practice.

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