Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Revisiting the whole systems approach: designing supply chains in a turbulent world

Naim, Mohamed ORCID: and Gosling, Jonathan ORCID: 2023. Revisiting the whole systems approach: designing supply chains in a turbulent world. International Journal of Logistics Management, The 34 (1) , pp. 5-33. 10.1108/IJLM-02-2021-0121

[thumbnail of PDF_Proof.PDF] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (582kB)


Purpose The systems approach is an exemplar of design science research (DSR), whereby specific designs yield generic knowledge. DSR is increasingly being adopted in logistics and operations management research, but many point to neglect of the human aspects of solutions developed. The authors argue that it is possible to look back at the history of the systems movement to seek precedent for ‘dealing’ with the social components, providing a methodologically pluralistic ‘research design’ framework. Thereby, systems approaches are foundational to providing a design-based ‘science’ to progressing the logistics and supply chain management field, dealing with contemporary topics such as resilience. Design/methodology/approach The authors undertake a discursive assessment of relevant streams of engineering, social science and systems research, with a conceptual development of how the latter influences supply chain design approaches. Findings Building on a phenomenological framework, the authors create a generic design science research design (DSRD) that enables researchers to choose and integrate the right tools and methods to address simple, complicated and complex problems, dealing with technological, process and social problems. Research limitations/implications The DSRD provides a framework by which to exploit a range of methodological stances to problem solving, including quantitative modelling perspectives and ‘soft’ systems social science approaches. Four substantive gaps are identified for future research – establishing the root cause domain of the problem, how to deal with the hierarchy of systems within systems, establishing appropriate criteria for the solution design and how best to deal with chaotic and disordered systems. Originality/value The authors argue that the systems approaches offer methodological pluralism by which a generic DSRD may be applied to enhance supply chain design. The authors show the relevance of the DSRD to supply chain design problems including in reducing supply chain dynamics and enhance resilience. In doing so, the study points towards an integrated perspective and future research agenda for designing resilient supply chains.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Centre for Advanced Manufacturing Systems At Cardiff (CAMSAC)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0957-4093
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 26 June 2022
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 17:26

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics