Business Processes, Logistics & Information Systems (LIS)


The aim of the Business Processes, Logistics and Information Systems research programme is to be at the forefront of developments in Logistics and Supply Chain management in interaction with business operations, information, and technology innovation, and to make a major contribution both to management science and to management practice. The programme focuses on the fields of logistics and supply chain optimisation, operations and innovation management, and next generation information systems.

Academic reputation and impact

Our programme and research have had substantial impact on both the national and international research agenda, as the following examples show.

  • We were one of the founders of research on reverse logistics and closed-loop supply chains which has had a large scientific impact.
  • We were among the first to study Operations Research models of container terminal operations. We have substantially expanded the research on port operations, in particular through our participation in the Smart Port programme.
  • We are leading in research on warehouse operations. Members are represented on both the International Material Handling Research Colloquium planning committee and on the College-industry Council of the Material Handling Industry.
  • We established the national research agenda for service logistics research and set up the Service Logistics Forum, an industry forum with substantial sponsorship. The area was defined as one of the three most promising logistics subjects by the Committee Van Laarhoven.
  • We are global leaders in our research on passenger railway transport, for which we received the Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences in 2008.
  • Our research on standardisation is also world-leading. A recent review study of the field ranks Professor Knut Blind as no. 1 in the field.

Societal impact

Members of the research programme have set up new research initiatives sponsored by applied research organisations, professional associations and individual organisations. For example:

  • Research institutes. Our members are founders of the Dutch logistics institute Dinalog, the Material Handling Forum, and the Service Logistics Forum, a grouping of some 15 leading companies who sponsor research in service logistics. The research in these three organisations is carried out in close cooperation with business partners.
  • Research carried out in cooperation with Netherlands Railways has a continuous impact on the service and efficiency of the railway system.
  • A major research project on sustainable innovation is being carried out with a partner consortium of ten firms, including Philips, DSM and Eastman.
  • Research findings on purchasing and supply management are actively integrated into nationally recognised educational programmes and lecture cycles.

Programme design and leadership

Within the Netherlands we aim to contribute significantly to the country’s leading role as a gateway to Europe. Much of our research is inspired by the new opportunities for innovative information and communication systems and innovative technologies. The research is interdisciplinary, integrating research paradigms from operations research, logistics, supply chain management, innovation and information systems, and applying paradigms from neighbouring disciplines such as computer science, organisation science, and organisational behaviour.

The Business Processes, Logistics and Information Systems programme is a coherent research network of researchers from both the Erasmus School of Economics and the Rotterdam School of Management. Cooperation between researchers is stimulated both in executing research projects and in writing research papers. The research is embedded in practice and innovative, and is at the forefront of the business and science community. Cooperation in national and international research networks to set the relevant research agenda in these is one of our primary activities. In order to shape this programme, the Fellows focus on a number of core fields and sub-fields. Around those, several research centres have been built (e.g. Smart PortBehavioural Operations ManagementClosed Loop Supply ChainsOptimisation in Public TransportPurchasing and Supply Management, and Future Energy Business), which provide an important way of disseminating research, acquiring funds and focusing our research.

Within the wide area of supply chain management and logistics, the focus of our group is primarily on inbound, distribution and service operations (such as purchasing, inventory, spare parts management, transport and terminal operations) and inter-organisational processes and networks, rather than on production. In addition, we have a special emphasis on information management and innovation in supply chains. The programme includes research on optimisation of logistics and supply chains, and more radical change in supply chains towards areas such as more sustainable and closed loop supply chains.

The research programme applies both quantitative modelling (simulation, mathematical modelling) and empirical research (survey, behavioural experiment, case study, action research). Methodological rigour is combined with practical relevance. Strong emphasis is placed on the valorisation of developed knowledge in the business community in the Netherlands and Europe.

Research Fields

The research programme is organised around three sub-programmes, each focusing on a specific research field within supply chain management. Since these fields and our typical approaches are problem-oriented, they often interact with each other. Therefore, most of the researchers contribute to several research fields, and within each field multiple research methods are often used.

The sub-programmes and their respective fields are: