The meaning of ‘value’ in purchasing, logistics and operations management

Mark Francis, Ron Fisher, Andrew Thomas, Hefin Rowlands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the current conception of ‘value’ within the production-oriented disciplines of purchasing and supply, logistics and operations management. The research design entails a four-step content analysis of peer-reviewed journal articles drawn from these disciplines. Based upon the application of this method, we found that the conception of value within these production-oriented disciplines is subject to a considerable interpretive viability issue. Our findings suggest four contributory factors to this issue: a lack of theoretical rigour; a lack of definitional rigour; a plethora of [undefined] value-related terms in circulation within the field; and a large variety of linguistic usages of these terms, with ‘value’ being used as a verb, adjective and noun. This has profound implications as it throws into question much extant research in this field. How, for example, is it possible to effectively study something that is inadequately defined? It also has significant practical implications, as how is it possible to design an effective or efficient production system or supply chain premised upon the principle of value if none of the actors have a common understanding or consensus of what value is?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6576-6589
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number22
Early online date02 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2015


  • value
  • content analysis
  • purchasing
  • logistics
  • operations management
  • interpretive viability


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