ILNET focuses on multiple research fields regarding international logistics networks that are of importance in many regions of the world. To contribute to research in international logistics networks, ILNET follows a multi-directional approach with different practice-oriented formats that contribute to several research fields.
Content-wise, ILNET mainly focuses on research on dynamics and the achievements of robust international logistics networks, taking risk and volatility management into consideration. Additionally, we seek to contribute to the discussion on how to embrace digital technologies to more efficient international logistics networks. Among other technologies, ILNET thereby mainly focuses on supply chain automation technologies, blockchain solutions as well as natural language processing applications in logistics and supply chain management. Besides the management of dynamics and technologies in a global environment, behavioral and cultural management remains on of the core research fields of ILNET since the management of different cultures is crucial for successful international logistics networks but is often underestimated by practice. For example, instead of copying risk management approaches from on part of the world to another, companies need to adjust their strategies to the corresponding culture. Therefore, ILNET research seeks to contribute to this vital and much needed discussion on cultural and behavioral management in logistics and supply chain management.
To achieve practice-oriented research results, ILNET seeks to maintain a strong connection between research and practice. Therefore, ILNET established steady working groups of logistics and supply chain managers from the manufacturing and logistics service providers industry that meet regularly for workshops in Germany, China, and selected Sub-Sahara African countries to discuss most recent supply chain management trends and topics. Additionally, ILNET conducts on-site case studies directly at companies to utilize those case studies for teaching and training purpose to provide students with real-life problems and solutions. Moreover, those case studies are utilized for teaching purpose.
Although the above-mentioned research fields are of importance in many parts of the world, we focus our activities on China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Ghana. This does not mean that our research is restricted to the specifics of those regions but it takes them into account more often.
Ethiopia has set itself the goal of becoming a middle-income economy and wants to position itself as a "leading manufacturing hub of Africa". To achieve this goal, the government has set up several industry parks to foster the development of light manufacturing (textile, leather, agro-industry, electronics) in particular. Excellent knowledge in logistics is a fundamental requirement for the successful implementation of these objectives in all sectors, but above all in the textile and food processing industries. Our research seeks to contribute to more efficient logistics solutions in Ethiopia taking the special conditions into account. To accomplish that, ILNET focuses mostly on the Ethiopian food and textile industry and investigates research fields such as intermodal transport chains, industrial park developments as well as sustainable practices (e.g. reduction of food waste).
As Rwanda pursues becoming a zero-carbon economy by 2050, it faces many challenges providing mobility for inviduals and goods without causing additional traffic congestions and emissions, especially considering the increased demand for e-commerce solutions in the country. In this context, innovative logistics concepts play an essential role in the creation of mobility solutions and promoting the sustainable urban development of Rwanda. ILNET prusues the development of creative, innovative solutions for the mobility requirements of growing cities with infrastructural and topographical constraints, such as Kigali. Furthermore, ILNET investigates challenges and opportunities of the country´s strong mining industry with a special focus on sustainabaility.
Ahead of the expected increase in the production capabilities of the Ghanaian industry, partly driven by the high foreign investment, and the related economic activities that may damage environment and society, sustainable processes and approaches must be developed in accordance with the framework conditions of the country. These solutions must be able to diminish the negative impact on the environment and increase positive effects on the society, such as humane labor conditions and high-quality education, without jeopardizing the economic growth of the country and its international competitiveness. In this context, logistics can help overcome many of the challenges faced by companies and governments in the implementation of sustainable practices. Therefore, ILNET focuses on researching sustainability solutions for Ghana (and comparable countries) that are affordable for local companies and attend to their specific requirements and challenges. For this, global networks including every actor involved in the different industries are analyzed and management concepts are developed.
China’s remarkable development to a manufacturing and service-oriented economy plays an indisputable role in the way how international logistics networks are designed nowadays. Currently, this country is one of the biggest economies in the world, ranking in the top positions of total international trade as well as GDP growth worldwide. Furthermore, the relationship between Germany and China is of special relevance for both countries. While Germany’s biggest import and export share for a single country is with China, China’s most important trade partner in Europe is Germany. For this reason, ILNET focused in previous years on the investigation of German-Chinese logistics networks. Especially the differences between Western and Chinese culture often required a re-thinking regarding traditional logistics concepts.
The “African Research Cluster on Logistics and Supply Chain” (ARCLoS) aims to strengthen the network of researchers from African countries in the fields of logistics and supply chain management. Based on a virtual, cross-country exchange of research methods, approaches and results, knowledge is to be disseminated, synergies identified and joint activities initiated. ARCLoS consists of virtual meetings every two months (approx. 90 min per meeting), where researchers of the ARCLoS network voluntarily present and discuss current results of their research in short keynote speeches followed by discussions. Through this regular exchange, a common understanding of the research areas and methodological approaches of the other researchers is created. In the mid- and long-term this can lead to joint research activities and projects.
Both, researchers from partner universities of the network of African universities supported by the Kuehne Foundation and also researchers from other African universities who are interested in a structured exchange are addressed. For more information on the ARCLoS network and the possibility to participate in the virtual discussions on a regular basis, please click here.