Research Approach, Contents and Formats
ILNET focuses on multiple research fields regarding international logistics networks that are of importance in many regions of the world. To contribute to research in international logistics networks, ILNET follows a multi-directional approach with different practice-oriented formats that contribute to several research fields.
Content-wise, ILNET mainly focuses on research on dynamics and the achievements of robust international logistics networks, taking risk and volatility management into consideration. Additionally, we seek to contribute to the discussion on how to embrace digital technologies to more efficient international logistics networks. Among other technologies, ILNET thereby mainly focuses on supply chain automation technologies, blockchain solutions as well as natural language processing applications in logistics and supply chain management. Besides the management of dynamics and technologies in a global environment, behavioral and cultural management remains on of the core research fields of ILNET since the management of different cultures is crucial for successful international logistics networks but is often underestimated by practice. For example, instead of copying risk management approaches from on part of the world to another, companies need to adjust their strategies to the corresponding culture. Therefore, ILNET research seeks to contribute to this vital and much needed discussion on cultural and behavioral management in logistics and supply chain management.
To achieve practice-oriented research results, ILNET seeks to maintain a strong connection between research and practice. Therefore, ILNET established steady working groups of logistics and supply chain managers from the manufacturing and logistics service providers industry that meet regularly for workshops in Germany, China and Ethiopia to discuss most recent supply chain management trends and topics. Additionally, ILNET conducts on-site case studies directly at companies to utilize those case studies for teaching and training purpose to provide students with real-life problems and solutions. Moreover, those case studies are utilized for teaching purpose.
Although the above-mentioned research fields are of importance in many parts of the world, we focus our activities on two main focus regions, China and Ethiopia. This does not mean that our research is restricted to the specifics of those regions but it takes them into account more often.
Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is on the verge to develop from a low-income to a mid-income country within the next years. To maintain growth, Ethiopian government is doing a lot to attract foreign investors to locate manufacturing sites there. Thereby, efficient logistics is key to stable economic development. This being said our research seeks to contribute to more efficient logistics solutions in Ethiopia taking the special conditions into account. To accomplish that, ILNET focuses mostly on the Ethiopian food and textile industry and investigates research fields such as intermodal transport chains, industrial park developments as well as sustainable practices (e.g. reduction of food waste).
Over the past decades, China developed as Europe’s most important partner in international trade and most European companies started doing business there and expanded their supply chain accordingly. Today, for most European companies China is one of the most important sourcing regions as well as the most important customer market. However, doing business in China is different and Western companies often struggle to adapt their logistics and supply chain management practices, such as risk and volatility management to the behavioral and cultural circumstances of the countries. However, ILNET research shows, that cultural differences can be utilized beneficial. Additionally, ILNET seeks to contribute to the discussion on the potentials and future development paths of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and how European-Chinese Logistics networks are changing due to this program.