Systematic literature reviews to advance theories in logistic and supply chain management: A new paradigm
Submission open: 30 June 2022
Submission deadline: 30 September 2022
Aims and Scope:
At the two-decade point in the new millennium, it is suitable to take stock in the strategic areas of logistic and supply chain management (LSCM). In the actual scenario, science improves when research is developed in a way that constructs rationally from the current knowledge base. New research then reconciles contradictions of the results from previous studies, increases the boundaries of the domain, and reveals new research gaps that offer fruitful directions for further research. Specifically, inefficiency seems when researches are ad hoc and are not founded on the principal knowledge base. Therefore, it is essential for the scholars to have a state-of-the-art understanding of present literature. In particular, to advance knowledge or the understanding of a real-world problem (by managers or by the collective scientific knowledge), the aim of a literature review must be aligned to the quest for new knowledge and to develop scientific tools, and it should contribute to theoretical development (Wong, 2021).
In this regards, systematic literature reviews (SLRs) aim to fulfil that necessity (e.g. Denyer and Tranfield, 2009; Littell et al., 2008; Gaur & Kumar, 2018) in order to better understand a real-life phenomenon or managerial problem (Schmenner et al., 2009) and to identify and critically evaluate and existing body of knowledge in a clear, rigorous, and replicable method (e.g. Xiao and Watson, 2019; Vrontis and Christofi, 2021; Battisti et al., 2021a, 2021b; Schulze et al., 2019). Lack of novelty and poor understanding of the business world appear when researchers do not have a systematic understanding of the principal body of knowledge (Schmenner et al., 2009). Specifically, by using explicit and systematic methods when reviewing papers and all available evidence, potential biases can be reduced, thus providing consistent results from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made (Snyder, 2019). In this regard, SLRs need to be more critical of the theories, methods, constructs used by past literature and examine evidence to challenge existing theories. Furthermore, SLRs can be used to advancing theory or conceptual theory development efforts (Carter, 2011).
Based on this considerations, in recent years, systematic literature review papers on supply chain management (SCM) have gradually increased (e.g. Carter and Liane Easton, 2011; Hohenstein et al., 2014; Durach et al., 2015; Schulze et al., 2019; Liu et al., 2018; Xiao and Watson, 2019). This is enhanced by various special issues that call for such types of papers (Saenz and Koufteros, 2015; Koufteros et al., 2018a, b). Specifically, in a recent contribution Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2017) reveals that 41.40% of 133 SLRs examined aimed at advancing theory by asking “how”, “what” or “why” questions, while the remainder mapped trends, methodological approaches or have presented stock taking of existing literature. For this reason, the main debate can be focused on understand why the field has an over emphasis on using descriptive SLRs to map topics and methodology and not putting enough emphasis on advancing theories (Wong, 2021). This special issue invites contributions that address this debate.
Furthermore, in the actual and critical scenario, the theory and research design of future logistic and supply chain management studies need of state-of-the-art insights exposed through systematic reviews that take into consideration new paradigms and methods. In particular, the ontological and epistemological idiosyncrasies of SCM study necessitate a new paradigm foundation for conduction systematic literature reviews. Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2017) identified six idiosyncrasies (theoretical boundaries, unit of analysis, sources of data, study context, definitions and the operationalization of constructs, research methods) that are critical for identifying, coding, and synthesizing studies on SCM and they presented a new paradigm for systematic literature reviews in the supply chain domain. Specifically, in terms of theoretical boundaries, the question is whether past studies use a coherence theoretical perspective or different theoretical viewpoints (Durach et al., 2017), and the SLR should describe the gap or the tensions that lead to the conceptual theory development efforts (Carter, 2011).
In terms of unit of analysis, a critical element is to identify the actual unit of analysis of the primary study and, consequently, the choice to exclude or include such studies (Durach et al., 2017). In this sense, SLRs should consider an integration and comparison of existing literature bases and/or theories that create unique insights (Carter, 2011). In terms of sources of data, efforts at theoretical refinement in reviews must take into account any conceptual differences among primary studies, in terms of units and levels of data collection (Durach et al., 2017). In terms of study context, the researchers must detect, investigate and report he contextual differences in their works (Durach et al., 2017). In terms of definitions and the operationalization of constructs, the researchers must balance the choice between comparing a limited set of primary studies with adequately comparable constructs and taking on the difficult task of accounting for the changes in definitions and scales when developing their models (Durach et al., 2017). Finally, in terms of research method, researchers must study the difference in research methods and define the quality and rigor of primary studies previously synthesizing their findings (Durach et al., 2017). In this sense, the researchers should demonstrate the relevance of their SLR for supply chain management practice (Carter, 2011). For these reasons, this special issue also invites contributions that propose alternate approaches or paradigm to SLR that focus on advancing theories and understanding (Wong, 2021), or challenge Durach’s emphasis on the six idiosyncrasies.
There are now some suggestions how SLR can be focusing on advancing theories. Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2021) laid down the foundations for four types of literature reviews to advance theories: (1) literature review as inductive theory building; (2) literature review as contextual explanations; (3) literature review as theory testing; and (4) literature review as interpretive sense making. Author can position the contributions of literature reviews to theories as (1) theory building; (2) theory modification; (3) theory refinement; and (4) theory extension (Seuring, Yawar, Land, Khalid and Sauer, 2021). This special issue encourages the use of these guidelines and suggestions, and even provide critiques and help to advance such literature review methodologies.
Special issue aims
The aim of this special issue is manifold.
The goal of IJPDLM is to advances understanding of emerging and strategic logistics and supply chain phenomenon such that practicing managers can effectively transform their logistics and supply chains. The guest editors encourage scholars to review original concepts, constructs and theory developed in the LSCM field in order to i) question and/ or enhance their contribution to understanding, ii) make a critical assessment of the methodology and perspective of systematic literature review, iii) question the real values and methodological issues of different SLR methods and paradigms, consequently, refining existing or defining new paradigm/s and method/s. Specifically, in order to find a more effective paradigm for SLR, this new special issue aims to identify new research questions about SLR paradigms that lead to advancement of theories and development of new propositions for further investigation.
Systematic literature review (SLR) methodologies are crucial not only for integrating knowledge from various sources but also for critical assessment of exiting theories, perspectives, assumptions, concepts, constructs, measurements, research methods and data. While new paradigms such as those proposed by Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2017), there are other SLR methodologies and perspectives (e.g., Denyer and Tranfield, 2009; Littell et al., 2008; Gaur & Kumar, 2018). While idiosyncrasies seem to be an important perspective, this special issue aims to test the applicability and usefulness of the paradigm.
First, the special issue invites challengers who scrutinize the paradigm proposed by Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2017) and their proposed four types of SLRs (Durach, Kembro and Wieland, 2021).
Second, the special issue invites scholars to apply paradigm proposed by Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2017) and SLRs methods (Durach, Kembro and Wieland, 2021) to analyze extant literature in strategic logistics and supply chain management with attention to the six idiosyncrasies - theoretical boundaries, data sources and empirics, units of analysis, contextual dimensions of studies, definitions and the operationalization of constructs, as well as research methodologies, with the aim of refining or revising existing theory, as well as “testing” the new paradigms in the field. The review papers should go beyond a critical analysis of the state-of-the-art knowledge in a specific logistic and supply chain management research area, they to engage in theory building processes that advance understanding.
Third, starting from the new paradigm of Durach, Kembro and Wieland (2017), one of the main aims of this special review issue is to undertake novel research, instead of doing repetitive and recycled types of study, and consequently develop possible new paradigms. Thus, the guest editors encourage scholars to review and synthesize new theories, methods, and contexts about diverse aspects of logistic and supply chain management that have been previous studied by familiar theories that no longer add new insights. The objective of such reviews should be to develop new research agendas based on new theoretical perspectives developed through new SLRs methods (Durach, Kembro and Wieland, 2021).
Fourth, this special issue aims to include review articles from other disciplines that either study or can inform logistic and supply chain management problems, such as human resource management, strategic management, international business, innovation, learning, marketing and finance. In particular, starting from new paradigms/methods for systematic literature reviews, the special issue editors encourage scholars to submit review articles that demonstrate the value of cross-fertilization of ideas between logistic and supply chain management and other connected research streams, both within and outside the business field and establish an agenda for future lines of research.
Finally, this special issues do not encourage review papers that focus on identify or trends, topics being studied, methodologies being used, citations and the use of descriptive statistics that do not add new understanding to strategic logistics and supply chain management. The use of simply descriptive review papers (e.g. describe who studied that topics, how many articles studied what topics, which authors or journals got cited, etc.) do not fit well with the aim of the journal as well as this special issue to advance knowledge. Specifically, this special issue does not encourage the use of descriptive literature review that do not contribute much to progressing knowledge or theories.
As recently communicated by Wong (2021), the guest editors welcome further effort to assessing and advancing other types of literature review, specifically those that can advance the knowledge-understanding about the real-world and theory on logistic and supply chain management. Literature reviews that rely on descriptive statistics and descriptions of past studies are not encouraged.
The guest editors highly recommend using a well-grounded methodological approach to conduct systematic reviews, which may include, but not limited to, the following types of systematic reviews: theory-based reviews, theme-based reviews, framework-based reviews, theory-context-characteristics-methodology (TCCM)-based, theory development reviews, bibliometric analysis, meta-analysis, and text mining approach.
Specifically, the guest editors invite literature reviews that address themes such as – but not limited to – the following:
• Logistic and supply chain management
• Supply chain processes
• Supply chain finance
• Supply chain consulting services
• Supply chain performance
• Supply chain compensation
• Sustainable purchasing and supply management
• Green supply chain management
• Business logistics
• Logistics network design
• Logistic and finance
• Logistic and financial technology
• Supply chain models
• Supply chain and human resource management
• Supply chain and technology
• Supply chain and innovation
• Supply chain and sustainability
• Supply chain and marketing
• Supply chain and financial service
• Supply chain and international business
• Supply chain ecosystem
• Supply chain and big data
Manuscripts should comply with the scope, standards, format, and editorial policy of the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. All papers must be submitted through the official International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management submission system (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijpdlm) with clear selection indicating that the submission is for this Special Issue. Before submission, authors should carefully read over the Journal’s “Author guidelines”. Papers submitted to the Special Issue will be subjected to the normal thorough double-blind review process.
Authors should select “SI: Systematic literature reviews to advance theories in logistic and supply chain management: A new paradigm”, from the “Choose Article Type” pull-down menu during the submission process. All contributions must not have been previously published or be under consideration for publication elsewhere.
Professor Enrico Battisti*, University of Turin, Italy
Professor Christofi Michael, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
Professor Baofeng Huo, Tianjian University, China.
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