Spens and Kovács (2006) argue that the publications they reviewed had some indicators missing. Therefore, it was difficult to categorically determine the use of the three different research approaches that were the point of focus in this content analysis. However, despite the fact that the method used was faulty based on various limitations that will be highlighted later, the deductive approach was highlighted as the dominant type of research process. The researches indicate that there is poor mention of indicators and the types of methods used in individual studies, and this tends to affect the rigor of research.
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In reference to Spens and Kovács (2005), Thai, Cahoon, and Tran (2011) used both deductive and inductive research process for their work. This type of research process has been highlighted as the ideal process that promotes development in the field of logistics. In the latter, the authors seek to determine the kind of knowledge and skills that should be possessed by logistics professionals. Thai et al. (2011) are of the view that the BLM framework is imperative in describing the knowledge and skills required by logistics professionals. In addition, they highlight the need for pacing emphasis on the logistics domain when teaching/training logistics professionals.
In order to avoid the bias that mainly prevails when coding content, clear standard criteria were used to guide the process to achieve objectivity, reliability, and validity. Based on the definitions of deductive research as one that aims to test already laid out theory, some qualitative methods can be classified as deductive research processes. Sometimes, case studies will aim to test hypotheses, and under such grounds, the approach can be termed as deductive especially when a company’s database is involved, and there is the need to determine the association among some variables based on prevailing theories by applying statistics (Spens & Kovács, 2006). It is true that some surveys include open-ended questions and this does not render them as deductive in nature.
It is, therefore, true that there are numerous incidences of poor categorization of research processes based on previous traditional meanings. There is the need to acknowledge the emerging changes in how researchers categorize the different research processes; hence, the call for more evaluations of research processes used in logistics in order to understand these processes better and make accurate classifications. There is need to combine both inductive and deductive processes in research because overreliance on one research process impedes the evolution of logistics because new theories, which help to develop the field of logistics, are rarely formulated.
Apparently, the BLM is an ideal platform for devising simplified frameworks that help to understand the skills and knowledge required of logistics professionals. However, the BLM framework is transitioning based on the changed ranking of the different items found in the BLM framework. Despite the fact that the framework used in Thai’s et al. (2011) study was modified, the results are valid because the research questionnaire indicated high Cronbach’s alpha levels for all the items tested revealing a high level of internal consistency.
Also, the logistics facet is an important area that Australian educational and training institutions should emphasize. This consideration is valid based on the fact that some skills and knowledge received the biggest positive scores from current to future states. However, there is need for specificity because the logistics facet is dynamic, and in relation to the highlighted areas, skills and knowledge at the strategic level are of concern. Irrespective of its limitations, the research findings by Thai et al. (2011) can be used to inform both professionals and managers in the logistics domain about the most important skills that can help to enhance performance in the logistics domain.
The views of Spens and Kovács (2005) in that case studies are not necessarily qualitative and inductive in nature are in agreement with previous studies. Therefore, there is need for authors to articulately highlight their indicators so that correct judgment is made when categorizing research processes. Also, just like other studies, based on the current content analysis, the deductive research process was predominant. Apparently, Thai’s et al. views that the BLM is an important framework showing the essence of business, logistics, and management skills and knowledge are in agreement with the views of previous researchers. However, other than the general notion on the importance of the BLM framework, other specific facets, such as least important and most important skills and knowledge in logistics based on previous studies, are lacking
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Despite the fact that the researchers cross-checked their evaluations, there was a need to introduce an impartial third party who would resolve the differences between the two researchers. The third party would have viewed the evaluations through an objective lens using the standard criteria used to guide the content analysis. In addition, the authors merely indicated the journals used but failed to indicate the keywords used during the selection of the journals. In Thai’s et al. (2011) article, the importance of the BLM framework is biased because the items on the questionnaire used in their study was a modification of the BLM. Also, the explanation of important items based on a mean score of 2 seems faulty given that the midpoint of the scale is 3. Thai et al. (2011) should have articulately delineated their use of the mean to indicate the least important instead of using ranks shown in the last column of Table IV.
In addition to using the z-test to determine generalizability of data, other limitations prevent the generalizability of these results. It is not clear whether the sample size used of 147 participants is representative of the entire population of CILTA. In addition, the mailing of the questionnaire does not guarantee that the targeted participant took part in filling in the questionnaire. The BLM is specific to the Australian population; hence, it cannot be applied to other populations. Therefore, the results by Thai et al. (2011) cannot be generalized to other populations. The authors state that both deductive and inductive approaches are triangulated, but there is no mention of the qualitative element of the research process.
Traditional definitions of research processes can no longer be used to classify research processes. Inductive reasoning is not limited to qualitative researches because some qualitative studies employ quantitative approaches where the testing hypothesis is required. The study by Thai et al. (2011) affirms Spens and Kovács (2006) position on wrong usage of the research processes; despite stating that they have used both deductive and inductive processes, only results for the deductive research process have been indicated. Also, knowledge and skills in the field of logistics are gradually evolving, and there is need to align educational goals with these changes.
Spens, K.M., & Kovács, G. (2005). A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 36(5), 374-390.
Thai, V.V., Cahoon, S., & Tran, H. T. (2011). Skill requirements for logistics professionals: Findings and implications. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 23(4), 553-574.