Adaptive Logistics - Using Complexity Theory to Facilitate Increased Effectiveness in Logistics
Abstract: Logistics is gaining increased attention in companies since interconnectivity is increasing, and the interdependence among actors is enhanced due to challenges organizations are facing today (market changes, novel strategies, and technological improvements). While the logistics discipline has been characterized by an efficiency focus based on positivistic assumptions, the challenges of today require a focus on effectiveness i.e. adaptive logistics based on extended assumptions. As firms are becoming more complex themselves in their relationships with suppliers and customers, and there is increased turbulence facing almost all industries, this complexity needs to be taken into consideration by logistics researchers and practitioners in order to increase their understanding, and for the sense-making of logistics phenomena. The purpose of the thesis is to contribute to the further development of logistics research and practice by exploring, from a complexity perspective, how increased adaptation can enhance logistics effectiveness. In order to gain knowledge and understanding of how a complexity perspective could impact logistics, several methods have been used. Through extensive literature reviews from several disciplines, insights into what type of underlying assumptions dominates the discipline were gained. In order to understand logistics in its ?real? empirical setting, a topical study entitled ?real logistics? was performed, in which logistics practitioners were interviewed with a grounded theory-inspired approach. Case studies have also been performed, focusing on issues of effectiveness. Furthermore, for me to be able provide the logistics discipline with an approach which is ?proven? to be applicable and where ?operationalization? of the complexity perspective could be achieved, combined case and simulation studies have been performed. It is the firm conclusion that adaptive logistics is not a concept separated from human-mind and involvement, instead it is a transformative concept realized in the individual and collective sense-making processes guided by assumptions related to both filters. Hence, in order to move towards adaptive logistics it is the conclusion that this is a process involving reflections on assumptions and their impacts on logistics phenomena and processes, and operationalization of a new way of thinking through sense-making methods with close connection to the perceived contexts in question. For the reflective part, theoretical frameworks are needed, which are in line with assumptions similar to real-life experience by managers i.e. of a less mechanical character, with emphasis on the extended assumptions comprised in the complexity perspective. Secondly, in order to operationalize a different way of thinking and acting i.e. change mind-sets to embrace more complex considerations, and provide tangible results in a reasonable time period, it has been concluded that agent-based modeling provides a feasible and applicable method and tool.
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