This article seeks to argue that logistics services, and the independent logistics industry in particular, should be afforded much more attention within political economy approaches to the global economy. Widespread outsourcing processes and the increased sophistication of logistics provisions mean that the industry has arguably evolved beyond being a mere service input to occupying an integral and strategic role within many global industries. It is, therefore, intimately connected to debates about shifting governance regimes and upgrading dynamics within those industries. Conceptualising logistics from a global production network (GPN) perspective offers the potential for revealing both (1) the contribution of logistics providers to value and upgrading dynamics in client sectors and (2) the ways in which the logistics industry itself can be thought of as a multi-actor value-generation network with its own strategic and upgrading dynamics. The article distils the key contributions and limitations of prevailing business studies approaches to logistics, before charting a four-pronged research agenda that foregrounds the political economy of logistics provisions within the global economy. The analysis concludes by thinking about the implications of on-going post-crisis restructuring within the world economy for the proposed research agenda on logistics and GPNs.
Coe, N.M. Missing links: Logistics, governance and upgrading in a shifting global economy. Review of International Political Economy (2013) : 33 pp. [DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2013.766230]