Providing explicit descriptions of studied systems: more than a necessary evil?
Paper in proceedings, 2015
Explicit descriptions of studied systems can support researchers in clarifying objects of study and motives of research as well as in structuring research design. However, since many scholars of systems approaches operate outside the field of logistics, applying systems approaches in logistics can be challenging. The purpose of this paper is therefore to describe how a systems approach can be applied in logistics so as to provide guidance for logistics researchers in their descriptions of studied systems.
Two systems approaches were used to describe the systems studied in six doctoral theses. A series of workshops was conducted to compare the descriptions and share challenges.
Key aspects for adapting the selected systems approaches corresponded to four areas of logistics—activities, flow, performance, and actors—all of which can be included in the selected systems approaches. Advice for doctoral students on applying these frameworks is provided.
This research can provide support to other logistics researchers when applying systems approaches and developing explicit descriptions of studied systems.
Systems approaches are central to logistics research, a field in which scholars are encouraged to apply well-known systems approaches. This paper contributes value by providing explicit examples of how such approaches were applied in six logistics research projects.