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Research Projects (2003-04)

Identifying Number


Project Title

Evaluation of Strategic Logistics of Rural Firms


North Dakota State University

Project Investigator

Mark Berwick
Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
North Dakota State University

External Project Contact


Project Objective

This project has two main goals. The first goal is to analyze the supply chain management strategies of firms within North Dakota or the Northern Plains to determine if they employ a strategic logistics philosophy. The second goal is to establish a case study(s) to determine the cost/benefits of employing the logistics strategies and determine a method of measuring the efficiency gains achieved by participating firms. The case study(s) may serve as a guide for other firms desiring to adapt a strategic logistics philosophy.

Project Abstract

Understanding logistical strategies and practices is an essential element to improving competitiveness in domestic and global markets. Firms expanding into domestic and global markets from the Midwestern and Plains states need to further employ strategic logistics practices to compete. Geiger and Dooley identified problems with North Dakota firms adopting strategic logistics practices. The study identified leading-edge firms using a supply chain management philosophy and North Dakota firms that have adopted some or none of a supply chain management strategy. One conclusion of the study found that leading-edge firms focus on strategic initiatives, while the North Dakota firms focus more on day-to-day operations. The study recommends rural firms adopt a strategic logistics philosophy to position themselves as supply chain channel participants. This study will focus on a small number of firms to determine their participation in the strategic logistics concept. An important part of the analysis will be on a firm's ability to manage or participate in the entire supply chain, from the source of raw materials to the end user.

Task Descriptions

Task 1 – Conduct a literature review which identifies current strategies and future trends in supply chain management practices and implementation. Include information on how partnerships/alliances are formed and maintained.

Task 2 – Select a group of "leading edge" firms for survey or interview. Develop a survey for the interview process to gain insights and perceptions into current logistical practices of selected "leading edge" firms. Identify the competitive forces affecting the supply chain management practices of these "leading edge" firms to gain a better understanding as to how logistical practices enable the firms to position themselves for operational effectiveness. Stimulate response from the firms as to how homeland security measures have changed logistical operations.

Task 3 – Analyze the selected "leading edge" firms supply chain management practices. Specify those features which could be effectively used in case studies.

Task 4 – Identify and determine strategic logistics philosophies of firms from North Dakota. Firms will be chosen from members in the North Dakota Food Processing Association (NDFPA) and North Dakota Manufacturers Association (NDMA) that have been willing participants in past research projects. Analyze the ability of each selected firm to manage and participate in the entire supply chain, from the source of raw materials to the end user. Analyze the competitive forces that affect the firms' decision to implement or omit strategic logistics practices from daily operations.

Task 5 – Evaluate North Dakota firms production and efficiency gains through the application of a strategic logistics philosophies such as lean manufacturing, information technology, etc. Determine a method of measuring the cost/benefits of employing logistics strategies.

Task 6 – Develop case studies on competitive application of supply chain management practices and disseminate to North Dakota businesses for review.

Task 7 – Prepare a report providing valuable analysis about rural firms' logistics practices and the discovery of strategies that may be employed to improve efficiencies in supply chain management.

Milestones, Dates

Starting Date: July 2003
Ending Date: July 2004

Student Involvement

One Graduate Student

Relationship to Other Research Projects

This project is a follow-up to MPC 98-71 "Supply Chain Issues for Small and Rural Manufacturers." This project will evaluate the progress of rural firms to determine their advancement of technology and other logistical practices which could improve efficiency in supply chains.

Technology Transfer Activities

Conduct seminars that will be available to North Dakota businesses reporting the result of the case studies. This will be done over TEL8 and other cities where it is deemed necessary. Distribute the report to businesses providing valuable analysis about rural firms' logistics practices and the discovery of strategies that may be employed to improve efficiencies in supply chain management.

Potential Benefits of the Project

  • Will offer advancement in knowledge and insight to "leading edge" supply chain management strategies for North Dakota companies who have not yet adopted a strategic logistics philosophy.
  • Knowledge of current supply chain management efficiencies/deficiencies will be gained in the North Dakota manufacturing sector creating a better understanding of core competencies and strategy formulation.
  • Will provide guidance for rural manufacturers and processors needing to employ strategic logistic strategies in order to participate in new markets.
  • Will provide quantitative measures of the cost/benefits of employing logistics strategies in North Dakota firms.

TRB Keywords

Logistics, Supply Chain Management

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050