Systems theory: myth or mainstream?
First online: 06.01.2012
Cite this article as: Lindskog, M. Logist. Res. (2012) 4: 63. doi:10.1007/s12159-011-0062-9
Systems thinking has by some been proposed as the ‘hard core’ of our discipline. Others have claimed that logistics rests on systems theory. However, glancing at how these notions are used outside of the discipline, there is reason to believe that there is more to systems theory than has been noted within our discipline. This paper therefore investigates the adoption of systems theory within the logistics discipline. The paper is entirely theoretical. It begins with a review of what is judged to be the main strands of the systems theoretical field. Thereafter, the adoption of these within the logistics discipline is studied, by means of a literature review that spans a total of 2,537 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as a sample of widespread basic textbooks. The findings indicate that a holistic or systems approach seems to have a somewhat central role in the logistics discipline. However, systems theory or systems thinking in its various forms—as it appears to be treated by those various scholars who deal with these notions explicitly—seem not to. Also, it seems that systems theory was more explicitly treated in the early days of our discipline, having become less visible explicitly in more recent publications.
Systems theory Systems thinking Systems approach Logistics discipline Literature review
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