The human chain in logistics and supply chain management research and practice

Edward Sweeney, Witold Bahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is now widely recognised that effective logistics and supply chain management (LSCM) plays a vital role in economic and wider societal well-being. A key facet of contemporary supply chain management (SCM) thinking is the shift away from traditionally fragmented supply chain configurations to ones that are characterised by high levels of integration of supply chain processes and data. Experience suggests that success in achieving higher levels of supply chain integration (SCI) depends on both physical and technical aspects (ie the so-called ‘hard-wiring’), as well as human and behavioural components (ie the so-called ‘soft-wiring’). It would appear, however, that the latter has received relatively little attention in the LSCM academic literature. Furthermore, the empirical evidence suggests that the majority of supply chain improvement initiatives in companies have been primarily concerned with technological, structural and process issues. This paper argues that the difficulties often encountered in attempting to put LSCM theory into practice are largely a consequence of a lack of focus on, and understanding of, the human dimension. Based on this discussion, the paper offers some suggestions for improvement in this area to both the supply chain research and practitioner communities. It uses several cultural and literary references throughout to illustrate these suggestions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-83
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Procurement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • logistics and supply chain management
  • human dimension
  • research
  • practice


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