Capacity of logistics networks to evolve in times of crisis

By Nicolas Jouve, Corinne Blanquart, Ludovic Vaillant

The COVID-19 crisis, unprecedented in terms of its global nature and duration, highlighted the weak points of logistics networks, bringing to the forefront the recommendations for reducing the vulnerability of these networks.
The objective of this article is to question the adaptability of logistics organisations, their capacity to evolve towards new ways of doing things in order to cope with the uncertainty inherent in crises.
The article is based on the work of Burmeister (2000) who classifies logistics and transportation organizations into ‘logistics families’. In each of the four families, coordination between professionals is structured by a framework value, a reference shared by the actors of the family considered to make their choices. The question raised is therefore whether the COVID-19 crisis has led to a shift in certain relationships between professionals from one family to another, in other words, a shift in framework values. The survey on which this research is based shows that, although the actors of a given logistics family adapt their logistics and transport strategies to crisis situations, these strategies are always based on the same framework value. Logistics families are therefore crisis-resistant.
Thus, the relations between these actors, the choices they make, remain guided by the framework values that governed their relations before the crisis. The methods of coordination between the actors in logistics networks do not change during a crisis. This permanence of the coordination structure is not, however, a limit to the profound change in logistics networks, which remain adaptable.

  • supply chains
  • coordination
  • adaptability
  • crisis
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