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Business Logistics and Supply Chain Management

This is a guide to the literature about managing supply chains and technological innovations affecting business logistics.


Russell Lee, photographer. Hauling crates of peaches to the shipping shed, Delta County, Colorado. 1940. Farm Security Administration. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

No matter how strategic the approach to supply chain management, the process incorporates the execution of hundreds or thousands of discrete and often mundane tasks.

The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) regards supply chain management as an integrating function that links major business functions and processes within and across firms into a cohesive model. It encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and logistics management, as well as coordination and collaboration with channel partners, such as suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers and customers. The CSCMP defines logistics as “that part of supply chain management that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow and storage of goods services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customer requirements.”

The military logistics expertise honed during World War II was thereafter employed in business by managers who understood the inter-relationships among various parts of logistical systems, such as shipping and inventory, and were familiar with management science techniques, such as linear programming and simulation. Since 1961 when Edward W. Smykay, Donald J. Bowersox and Frank H. Mossman published Physical Distribution Management: Logistics Problems of the Firm, probably the first book about business logistics, logistics and supply chain management have emerged and evolved as important disciplines. Their growth has been influenced by economic, regulatory, cultural, and most of all technological factors.

In the 1990s developments in communications technology, such as electronic data interchange (EDI), global positioning systems (GPS), and the Internet and electronic commerce (e-commerce) had a significant impact on businesses. During the 21st century new technologies continue to alter business processes and supply chains. Some of them are cloud computing, big data, radio frequency identification (RFID), blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing or additive manufacturing, cyber-physical systems (CPS) for Industry 4.0, and augmented reality (AR).

The complexities of business logistics and supply chain management, and the rush of change with all its benefits and risks present great challenges to business as well as the opportunity for great achievement.

About the Business Section

Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Business Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.