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Reverse Logistics and Inclusive growth in sustainable supply chains in the UK: Are we there yet? (Advert Reference: SF21/BL/MOS/MA)

   Faculty of Business and Law

  Dr Jie Ma  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Although most of the research on logistics and supply chain management has focused on forward logistics, the area of reverse logistics (RL) is gaining increasing attention and becoming more important in recent years (Govindan and Solemani, 2017). The research on RL has evolved from simply reversing the chains to flow the returns from the customers, to focusing on increasing recycles for better environmental and cooperative strategies. The recent development of RL has focused on developing and designing an ecological business model for a closed-loop supply chain and sustainable value creation (Agrawal, Singh, and Murtaza 2015; Shabbir et al. 2021) – a model that aims to better handle returned products, capture additional value and further integrating into supply chain activities (Guide et al., 2003). This arguably links to the conceptualisation of ‘inclusive businesses’ for an inclusive growth – a broad-based sharing model that aims to reduce poverty and inequality through rapid economic growth (Schoneveld 2020). Reverse logistics by the virtue of selling recycled products, creating new jobs and consistent employability for low skilled populations, contribute to improving the overall quality of life (Sarkis, Helms, and Hervani 2010). However, defining the social aspects in RL has proven challenging and the area has remained unexplored, most of the existing research has rather focused on evaluating RL performance in general (Banihashemi, Fei, and Chen 2019). Therefore, it is a necessity to investigate social foundations of the sustainable RL and explore the relationship between RL and its impacts on inclusive growth.

This project aims to integrate the closed-loop supply network into the inclusive businesses model and establish a conceptual foundation of inclusive growth to design sustainable RL. Further, we test this model and identify the contribution of reverse logistics to the key indicators of inclusive growth.

The key questions to be answered by this research are:

RQ1: How does reverse logistics address and promote inclusive growth and sustainable development and

RQ2: What is the contribution of reverse logistics to the key indicators of inclusive growth

RQ3: What are the antecedents and barriers for the implementation of inclusive growth in reverse logistics?

The research will start with a systematic literature review of topics relating reverse logistics, sustainable supply chain management and inclusive growth. It will be followed by testing the proposed theoretical framework by empirical investigations (e.g., multiple case studies, focus groups and/or surveys) that involve firms engaged in reverse logistics in the UK.

The research will contribute towards a better understanding of the role of reverse logistics in inclusive growth and its impact on the proposed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, it will contribute to both theory development and testing in the field of reverse logistics which is rarely done so far.

This project is supervised by Dr Jie Ma

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·       Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·       Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF21/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Open

Start Date: March 2022 or October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.

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