Dunn et al (1993) concluded that logistics, marketing, and operations research all risk underachievement if confined to a single philosophical and methodological domain. According to Näslund (2002) and Kotzab et al (2005), quantitative methodologies dominate logistics research, suggesting the discipline has acquired a positivist profile.

Logistics’ concerns today are rarely the “trucks and sheds” (Mangan et al, 2008) issues they were before Oliver and Webber introduced the SCM concept (1982). The SCM paradigm stipulates tight integration of disparate organisations for general advantage (Houlihan, 1988). Logic suggests that a multiple-organisation entity operating in singular fashion for shared gain would demand concerted managerial coordination, maintenance, and high quality decision making. Thus, it is this researcher’s reasoning that for the SCM paradigm to hold sway, theorisation of the human dimension is prerequisite.

If human factors in logistics/SCM are as undertheorised as the quantitative imbalance implies, scope exists for research that creates human factor-incorporative theory. For the development of such theory, the philosophically coupled positivist/quantitative paradigm seems less accommodating than the phenomenological/qualitative paradigm. Positivists, by endorsing deductivism carry forward existing theory to explain their observations, typically in the language and conceptual grammar of that theory. Since no theory exists to elucidate the influence of human factors on SCM, in particular risk management, the top-down, outside-in approach of the deductivist would demand the superimposition of a proximal theory that might be inappropriate. Any observations interpreted in the terms of borrowed theory could be contested on the basis of theoretical misalignment. For this reason, a bottom-up, inside-out approach (induction) was a superior option.

Phenomenologically-supportive, inductively designed research can extract detail on thought processes. Since my research aimed to uncover thought and attitude en route to understanding a specific phenomenon, compliance between instrument, logic, and philosophy was desirable. This study, phenomenologically-framed and qualitatively-enabled, responded to Näslund’s call (2002) for methodological diversity to strengthen logistics research.

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