Infoscience

Thesis

Mitigating Crime Risks in the International Logistics Network: the Case of Swiss Post

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 raised major concerns about the vulnerability of global transportation systems to transnational crime and terrorism. Although the attacks occurred in the context of passenger transport, they spurred unprecedented academic research on supply chain security (SCS). Alas, today, more than a decade later, theoretical underpinnings of the SCS discipline remain weak. First, the extant SCS literature offers only a cursory and ambiguous view on the risks that SCS management addresses. Second, the academic research offers little evidence of how security solutions affect security and logistics performance. Due to the scarce and conflicting scientific evidence, managers and authorities are having a difficult time securing the supply chain without disrupting trade and logistics operations. This thesis comprises three research phases that seek to address the two crucial weaknesses of the current academic knowledge. The first phase intends to identify and characterize risks that the SCS management addresses and capture them under a unified theoretical frame – a taxonomy of supply chain crimes. The taxonomy results from a study of managerial descriptions of crime problems that occur or could occur in the supply chain context. The second phase aims at producing a research agenda and at isolating principles for logistics-friendly design of security systems through a synthesis of peer-reviewed academic SCS literature. The synthesis is done using the so-called systematic literature review technique, which follows a prescribed and transparent protocol devised to reduce researcher bias and increase transparency of the review process. The third research phase describes the international postal service from the perspective of Swiss Post, putting a special emphasis on postal security management and law enforcement. The later case study analysis tests validity of the supply chain crime taxonomy and aims to generate evidence-based concepts for improving the postal security management. Research findings imply that supply chain crime problems are numerous and diverse, most important being cargo theft, smuggling, and cyber crime. Despite the variety, however, the crime problems collapse into three main taxonomic classes when categorized by the way criminals interact with the supply chain: 1) by taking assets out of the supply chain, 2) by introducing unauthorized goods into the supply chain, and 3) by directly attacking the supply chain. Besides, the criminals commonly resort to a range of facilitating crimes to carry out crimes of the main taxonomic classes. The literature synthesis found that the SCS discipline has attracted cross-disciplinary and steadily growing academic interest over the past decade. The synthesis also suggested that although there are no universal optimal rules for the SCS management, there are certain design principles that should be considered when SCS management decisions are made. The case study evidence revealed that postal security management comprises multiple domains, each having distinctive goals and employing different security solutions. Except for the airmail domain, the number and stringency of existing postal security controls seem low, though proportional to the current terrorist and crime threats. Application of the design principles into the case study context identified a set of promising concepts for improving the postal security management. [...]

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