Logistics needs qualitative research – especially action research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper describes how qualitative research methods, particularly action research case studies, can contribute to further advance and develop logistics research. The paper also describes limitations with the current dominance of quantitative (especially survey) research in logistics. However, the paper is not a pure criticism of the use of quantitative research methods in general or in logistics in specific. Rather, the argument is that it is necessary to use both quantitative and qualitative methods if we really want to develop and advance logistics research. Logistics problems are often ill-structured, even messy, real-world problems. Modern logistics is based on holistic and systemic thinking and uses multi-disciplinary and cross-functional approaches. Thus action research case studies are especially suited for an applied field such as logistics since they strive to advance both science and practice. This should also be reflected in published logistics research, which it is not. In order to change this situation, we first have to understand paradigms and their influence on how we approach and evaluate research. Second, we have to define what case studies in journal articles mean. Third, we need to develop criteria for evaluating action research case studies.


External organisations
  • California State University Fullerton
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Engineering and Technology


  • Action research, Case studies, Logistics, Paradigms
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jun 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes