1 Logistics as a Scientific Discipline
Logistics is a scientific discipline of applied nature. It models and analyses economic systems in time and space as the flow of materials (goods, information, money, and people) through different networks. Its purpose is to offer solutions that provide us with the form and method of implementation of such networks, which is done with the help of well-known and recognized scientific methods. Scientific questions which logistics provides answers to mainly relate to the configuration and organization of such networks as well as the release and control of network material flows. Its main objective is to achieve a balance between economic, ecological and social objectives.
2 The Basic Principles for Understanding Logistics as a Science and its Academic Identity
Scientific approach of logistics as a science to solving problems differs from other scientific disciplines mainly in interpretation of different systems. It, for example, views economic systems as networks and economic processes as the flow of goods, information, people and money. Logistics identifies, describes, analyses and improves networks and the flow of goods with the help of numerous research methods known in other scientific disciplines. The main objective of logistic scientific research work is to achieve a balance between economic, ecological and social objectives.
Logistics Science uses the so-called multi-perspective model, which means that it views and studies logistics processes from different angles and using different methodological approaches, in particular from technical, organizational and social point of view. The technical aspect relates to the combination of different infrastructure (i.e. roads, railways, and storage), machinery (i.e. trucks, forklifts, and industrial vehicles), packaging (i.e. boxes and pallets) and people (i.e. order pickers, truck drivers, and road hauliers) and system flows.
The organizational perspective focuses on the administrative level of transactions which control the flow. The focus is on processes such as ordering or replenishing stock, order processing, distribution of internal costs, payment of services, etc. The second level of this perspective relates to the network structure, the number and service programme activities of involved participants and institutions. The next level refers to the flow dimensions (i.e. volume, time, and speed of flows of goods) and the dimensions of network nodes (logistic infrastructure).
Regardless of the fact that many processes are technical in nature, people and consequently the social aspect plays a key role in logistics. The need to view people as players arises whenever they acquire a certain level of freedom in the performance out their duties.
3 Interdisciplinary Nature of Logistics
Scientific research of logistics can be applied to different areas and levels of economic systems. Thus, any logistical problem can be interpreted as a network of different flows that are a part of a larger superior network.
Logistics research is unique because it crosses the boundaries of established scientific disciplines, such as business administration, economics, engineering, informatics , social sciences , etc., which are application-oriented and all of which contribute to achieving economic, ecological and social objectives. Logistics strives to upgrade the knowledge of the mentioned disciplines with the help of synergic combination. As an application-oriented science, logistics uses methods from other disciplines (i.e. mathematics, engineering, economics, and social sciences) and upgrades and develops them further. Although each discipline builds on knowledge of other disciplines and is therefore interdisciplinary, this is particularly true for logistics due to its specific focus and multi-perspective approach. Individual logistical problems can basically be treated with the help of instruments from the existing scientific disciplines, while for solving a wider logistical problem it is also necessary to take account of connections between the subsections and the interactions between the players involved in the process. However, it is necessary to point out that the interdisciplinary nature of logistics does not exclude the possibility of individual logistical problems or research areas being focused on specific problems within the already established scientific fields. Therefore, logistics can be described as an interdisciplinary science to a high, but limited, degree. The direct and logical consequence of this is that in the existing scientific disciplines there may be specialized logistically oriented areas, for example logistics as business management or technical logistics.
Logistics as a science thus combines terminological, conceptual and methodological versions of various disciplines from which it originates. The specific nature of logistics as a science brings with it major challenges, as logistics does not merely use approaches and methods of other disciplines (i.e. mathematics, engineering, economics, and social sciences) but uses them to create new, broader terminological, methodological and conceptual frames.
An important activity of the Faculty of Logistics at the University of Maribor is the creation of new knowledge for the benefit of present and future generations.
Our primary goal is to make the faculty’s scientific research activity recognizable in the domestic and international environment. To achieve this primary goal, we will:
- both take from as well as make a significant contribution to the world’s body of knowledge,
- extensively publish papers in renowned foreign journals with impact factor,
- regularly see our researchers on scientific visits to renowned foreign research institutions,
- as well as increase knowledge transfer to industry, which will be carried out through in-depth and systematic cooperation with it.