Risk Management in Logistics Enterprises: Findings from the 2013 Empirical Study
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Recent developments and events – e.g. trend to globalization, outsourcing activities, shorter life time cycles, but also natural disasters and others – have led to the increase of risks in business. Furthermore, regional and global financial and economic crises have brought additional and often unexpected risks into business. Therefore, risk management has been identified as one of the important management tasks supporting a company in reaching its objectives. In many countries, implementation and use of risk management is required by law. In Germany, the so-called KonTraG (Corporate Sector Supervision and Transparency Act) prescribes risk management for all incorporated companies. Although there is no mandated risk management for other legal forms of organizations, the KonTraG has also impact on those forms of organizations, especially on attestation by external auditors. This paper focuses on the industrial sector of logistics service providers (LSPs). The logistics service industry in Germany is a fragmented market. Although there are some ‘big players’, i.e. large LSPs, that are involved in national and international logistics activities, there also exists a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). For those small and medium-sized LSPs, risk management is not compulsory. Nevertheless, they face at least the same risks as the big players – if not even more (e.g. due to smaller market shares and lower market power). There is a number of questions involved with risk management in logistics enterprises: Is risk management an approach used by LSPs – and to what extend? Who initiates risk management in logistics enterprises? What is the degree of maturity of risk management in the logistics industry? What tools and methods are used by LSPs? Are companies evaluating risk management as beneficial? Not much research has been conducted in the logistics service industry so far. Thus, to answer those questions, the authors started to conduct a first empirical study in 2008. This study was followed by a second field study in 2011, i.e. directly after the first global financial and economic crisis. In 2013, the authors carried out the third empirical study on the status of risk management in logistics enterprises in Germany. The study allows for both stating the current status of risk management and identifying developments and trends in the logistics industry related to risk management. This paper intends to highlight the most important findings from the 2013 field study and to evaluate the status quo of risk management in logistics enterprises. It also specifies room for improvement to reach a higher degree of professionalism in risk management in the logistics industry.
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