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Academic paper - Service supply chain resilience: a social-ecological perspective on last-mile delivery operations

International Journal of Operations & Production Management © Emerald Publishing Limited 0144-3577 DOI 10.1108/IJOPM-03-2022-0180 – Five star

Abstract of the paper

Purpose – Considering the last-mile delivery service supply chain as a social-ecological system rather than just a firm-based service system, this research exploit the COVID-19 pandemic disruption to investigate how the supply chain develops resilience from a viewpoint that integrates a social-ecological perspective with the traditional engineering one.

Design/methodology/approach – This research adopt a multi-case study approach using qualitative data collected via semi-structured interviews with executive-level managers from nine leading UK last-mile delivery companies.

Data analysis is guided by a research framework which is developed by combining the socialecological perspective with the structure–conduct–performance paradigm. This framework aids the investigation of the impacts of external challenges on companies’ resilience strategies and practices, as well as performance, in response to disruptions.

Findings – The research identifies three distinct pathways to resilience development: stabilization, focussing on bouncing back to the original normal; adaptation, involving evolutionary changes to a new normal; transformation, involving revolutionary changes in pursuit of a new normal-plus. Three strategic orientations are identified as operating across these pathways: people orientation, digital orientation, and learning orientation.

Originality/value – In contrast to the manufacturing supply chain focus of most current research, this research concentrates on the service supply chain, investigating its resilience with a social-ecological perspective alongside the traditional engineering one.



Yong Lin, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Anlan Chen, Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, UK.

Shuya Zhong, Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Vaggelis Giannikas, School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK

Carl Lomas, Institute of Couriers, Manchester, UK and University of Derby, Derby, UK, and

Tracey Worth, Institute of Couriers, Manchester, UK and University of West London, London, UK



Service supply chain resilience: a social-ecological perspective on last-mile delivery operations, Yong Lin, Alan Chen, Shuya Zhong, Vaggelis Giannikas, Carl Lomas, Tracey Worth, International Journal of Operations & Production Management. DOI 10.1108/IJOPM-03-2022-0180