In today’s highly competitive global market, effective logistics innovation (LI) and supply chain innovation (SCI) play a key role in improving the organizational performance and competitive advantage of companies [1
]. During the past few decades, new business models based on new logistics flows and supply chains have emerged [2
]. SCI includes new production, marketing, or logistics processes that use technology and process innovations to generate information processing and new logistics services, improving operational efficiency and service effectiveness [3
]. LI is seen as a new and innovative service related to logistics, whether basic or complex, which is particularly beneficial to specific stakeholders [4
]. By comparing broader supply chain management with logistics management, we can deduce that the definition of SCI is more extensive than that of LI. Therefore, this study uses the term SCI to reflect this broader scope, including LI.
Competitive pressures and turbulent business environments are driving companies to innovate to ensure their survival, accelerate transformation, or support growth [5
]. Among the activities in various sections of a supply chain, such as purchasing, material management, production, distribution, and marketing, one of the biggest challenges is meeting customer requirements while managing costs. Depending on the economy’s level of development, the total supply chain cost accounts for, on average, approximately 5% to 10% of a company’s annual income [6
]. According to the GMA 2010 Logistics Benchmark Report, effectively reducing logistics costs has become a major goal for supply chains of US companies in 2008 and 2010 [7
]. Cooperation allows supply chain participants to create complementary effects within innovation [9
]. Therefore, SCI is regarded as a necessary tool.
LI and SCI are also becoming popular topics in the academic community [9
]. An increasing numbers of scholars have begun reviewing supply chain innovation, such as supply chain collaboration [11
], innovation process [2
], network configuration [6
], information technology [13
], and sustainable development [15
]. Kwak et al. [17
] examined the effects of SCI on risk management capabilities based on 174 Korean manufacturers and logistics intermediaries; the results showed that SCI has a significantly positive effect on both the robustness and the resilience of risk management capabilities and, in turn, exerts a significant effect on the enhancement of competitive advantage. Abdelkafi and Pero [3
] adopted a qualitative research tool to investigate how companies can use SCI to generate new business models; they found that SCI is primarily used to solve specific operational issues and often leads to incremental innovation of business models, but rarely results in radical innovation. Innovations can also lead to positive logistics business performance and customer satisfaction [18
]. Wang et al. [20
] pointed out that innovation performance may be negatively affected by certain supplier–client contracts. Lastly, in knowledge-intensive industries, value-creating activities are dispersed among the specialized companies in the supply chain, and the key companies serve as the controllers of the network and the knowledge integrators. Under this context, the difficulties faced by these key companies in knowledge integration are deemed obstacles to innovation [21
Furthermore, the collaborative research team is a necessary and ideal component in the development of emerging research fields. Cooperation and networking are beneficial and useful strategies to increase productivity and influence research activities [22
]. Interaction between researchers is expected to create new knowledge and expedite knowledge transfer. Cooperation between researchers is a laudable goal, one that has also been accepted and promoted by many policymakers [23
]. Research projects funded by the European Union and China will include researcher cooperation as one of the necessary conditions to guarantee research funding.
In recent years, cooperation in academic research has become increasingly diversified across institutions, professions, practices, and countries. Adopting an interdisciplinary research strategy enhances the coherence and social relevance of the results that researchers produce [24
]. Chen et al. [25
] mentioned that scholars and practitioners have taken actions to cooperate through conferences, forums, and professional education courses. The research capabilities of major countries in Europe and Asia have been substantially improved and have had a major impact on the research environment that was previously dominated by American universities [26
]. Advances in communications technology also enhance researcher cooperation, which may even be international [14
The main purpose of this study is to analyze literature in the SCI field using content analysis and social network analysis (SNA) in a systematic review. The first contribution offered by this study is an overall picture of the field of SCI. Second, it allows readers to understand which topics researchers address in their discussions of SCI. Third, through academic collaboration relationships, it allows us to understand growth and changes in the SCI community. Finally, it reveals the finding that the field of SCI requires additional collaboration between academia and industry.
The rest of this paper is arranged as follows: Section 2
details the structured methodology used for literature review and evaluation in this study, Section 3
illustrates the analytical results, and Section 4
offers insights in terms of future research directions and conclusions.
In the present study, we performed a systematic review to analyze SCI articles. The content analysis focused on published works rather than on data collection [28
]. The steps of the systematic review process were (1) identification of suitable keywords and search queries; (2) compilation of a consideration set; (3) specification of eligibility criteria and assessment; (4) data processing and analysis; and (5) classification and typology of the results [29
The study carried out independent searches using Scopus and the Web of Science to search the following keywords: “logistics innovation” and “supply chain innovation.” Scopus is the world’s largest abstract database that covers over 21,000 titles from peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, books, and business journals to ensure its multidisciplinary nature. The Web of Science is a citation index service developed by the Institute for Scientific Information; it grants access to literature and abstracts published in over 12,000 journals in the areas of science, engineering, medicine, agriculture, humanities, and social sciences.
summarizes the articles retrieved and selected. To determine whether a study should be included, the inclusion and exclusion criteria were (1) the article is in English; (2) the article is from a peer-reviewed journal; (3) repeated, retracted, or articles published as conference papers, notes, comments, books, magazines, or trade publications, were excluded; (4) the article is relevant to the search terms defined in Section 1
. The full texts of 142 articles were analyzed, and those not related to SCI were eliminated from the sample. In total, 104 SCI-related articles, published between 1987 and 2018, were selected.
These SCI-related articles were reviewed systematically through content analysis, and each was examined twice to derive data of interest. All the articles were analyzed under the themes of descriptive statistics, collaboration, methodology, and theory. Data from descriptive statistics encompassed the following categories: distribution of the articles, country of data collection, and topic of research [9
]. Subsequently, the collaborative relationships indicated in the articles were analyzed by author name, affiliation, and country [27
]. Moreover, the theories used in the articles were summarized [16
]. Finally, to elucidate trends in SCI research, we divided articles by publication period into two groups, 1987–2011 and 2012–2018, and compared them; this was because the number of SCI-related articles published, per year, during the 2012–2018 period was more than ten times that during the 1987–2011 period (see Figure 1
4. Discussion and Conclusions
Considering the significance of innovation for businesses, supply chains, and the wider industry, this study sampled English-language research papers on SCI, published from 1987 to 2018, to identify trends in SCI research. We found that SCI-related articles were first published in 1987; then, the number of articles was low, which increased substantially to 8 in 2012. The systemic literature review in this study analyzed SCI-related studies from the perspectives of research funding, research topics, author’s collaborative relationships, and theories. We note the following implications and limitations, as well as future research directions based on its findings.
The results of the descriptive statistics suggest that over 70% of sampled SCI-related studies were not funded. Research grants enable the production of new knowledge [40
]. Performance-oriented ex ante review of research proposals can inhibit the development of studies, particularly those in emerging fields [32
]. The same applies to SCI, an emerging topic of supply chain research. Although SCI has been discussed from various perspectives, more research is required to understand this topic. As a result, scholars focus primarily on topics like greenness, collaboration, and managerial function. Greenness and the environment have become the main challenges for regional and global sustainable development [9
]. Generally speaking, companies are limited by their own capabilities and do not possess all the resources necessary for innovation. The main reason for collaboration is to obtain such resources, especially knowledge, from other companies [41
SCI research is concentrated in the United States, and did not receive much attention in Europe and Asia until 2012. This is consistent with the findings of Gao, Xu, Ruan and Lu [9
], who found that selection of the study site depends largely on the size of gross domestic product (GDP). GDP grows faster in India, China, South Korea, and Taiwan than in Western countries [8
There was a shift in article publishing from single authors towards collaboration. However, the number of articles written through cross-sector collaboration declined. Some researchers have highlighted the necessity for increasing their influence on industry [42
]. Academic research differs considerably from managerial practices because both have varying assumptions and beliefs [44
]. Numerous critical studies are based on researchers’ practical experiences and face-to-face interactions [35
]. Such studies can be performed through collaboration between academia and industry. SCI is an emerging field of research with disproportionate collaboration between scholars who have yet to develop close connections.
This study revealed that some institutions in the SCI research community were situated in the position of a structural hole, which disseminates information and knowledge in a social network [45
]. When these institutions collaborate with more partners to conduct SCI research, they gain more social capital. Additionally, although a majority of SCI studies were conducted or published in the United States, it was not the center of the core cluster. This suggested that the authors made more collaborative efforts with scholars outside the United States. Over the 2012–2018 period, the United Kingdom was at the core of the SCI research community, largely because British researchers conducted more cross-national research than their counterparts in other countries. This indicates a possibility that SCI-related articles from the United Kingdom would be cited more frequently.
A growing number of recent SCI studies have applied theories, and the adopted theories have also been increasingly diverse. This trend corresponds with the recommendation of Carter and Rogers [15
] that theories should be connected to investigate SCI topics. Specifically, more theories should be developed for and applied in supply chain management research. Additionally, to extend supply chain management to social and environmental contexts necessitates the introduction of more perspectives to pave the foundation for developing creative solutions and new theories [46
This study has some limitations. First, only the exact keywords “supply chain innovation” and “logistics innovation” were used to retrieve articles from Scopus and Web of Science; therefore, SCI-related articles with other keywords might have been ignored. However, we argue that the sampled articles were adequately representative of SCI research. Second, this study collected research papers written in English and excluded conference papers, notes, commentaries, books, magazines, and trade publications. Third, many of the trends we identified in this study were based on the SCI-related articles that were rigorously selected. Lastly, the findings and their implications depended to a great extent on the experiences and educational background of the reviewers.
4.3. Future Directions of Research
The findings of this study indicate that SCI research still has a large scope for growth. Based on the literature review, we suggest the following directions for further SCI research:
SCI-related articles retrieved by this study appear in various fields, suggesting that SCI concerns diverse disciplines and industries. Accordingly, not only manufacturing, but also service, agricultural, and transport industries have improved the efficiency of their respective supply chains through innovation [9
]. Moreover, the average number of authors per SCI article has increased. Thus, conducting SCI studies in a cross-disciplinary setting will be a trend in the foreseeable future, yielding insightful findings for industrial communities.
Only 15% of SCI-related studies sampled by this study focused on more than two countries. Most studies focused on a single country. In the competitive global market, it can be assumed that the raw materials of a product are produced in one country, whereas its production, assembly, transportation, and sales occur in various other countries. Therefore, future researchers should conduct SCI research at a cross-national level to analyze the generalization of SCI. This is because when innovation is integrated into the global supply chain, stakeholders can benefit.
SCI research is currently benefiting from cross-national collaboration and, thus, is developing rapidly. Future SCI studies should be conducted based on collaboration between academia and industries to narrow the academia–industry gap and develop new research topics.
The SCI research community is still developing. The country or institution at the center of a core cluster of collaboration networks for SCI research should promote and fund SCI research to acquire critical information and benefits. Both research and business organizations can benefit accordingly. This study analyzed the SCI research community on the scale of collaboration networks. Future studies can discuss such networks by examining relevant abstracts and keywords or using relevant methods.
This study found that “adoption,” collaboration,” and “green/sustainable development” have remained popular topics among SCI researchers. These topics can be investigated by using various stages or forms of SCI, or on a cross-national basis.
This study showed that dynamic capabilities and the resource-based view are the most used theories in SCI research. Future studies should analyze the role of both theories in SCI research and conduct a citation analysis of the theories to improve understanding of the development of SCI research.