Logistics as a Technology of Governance and Measure

Posted: April 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: creative industries, logistics, maritime industries, theory | 1 Comment »

The primary task of the global logistics industry is to manage the movement of people and things in the interests of communication, transport and economic efficiencies. Central to logistics is the question and scope of governance – both of labouring subjects and the treatment of objects or things. One of the key ways in which logistics undertakes such work is through the application of technologies of measure, the database and spreadsheet being two of the most common instruments of managerial practice. In the age of cognitive capitalism, new sites of struggle are emerging. Everyone, in short, has the capacity to be produced as creative labour, since the measure of economic value shifts from a logic of scarcity (IPRs) to one of aggregation, recombination and storage that corresponds to the materiality of digital information and social production of value.

See: Neilson, Brett and Rossiter, Ned (forthcoming 2010) ‘Still Waiting, Still Moving: On Migration, Logistics and Maritime Industries‘, in David Bissell and Gillian Fuller (eds) Stillness in a Mobile World, London and New York: Routledge.

Related fieldwork questions:
How would you summarise the work of your company?

Is your trade or business predominantly or largely transnational or is mostly within China? If it’s transnational, does that mean between Europe, the US and China, or does it mean something more regional: East and South Asia perhaps?

Are there differences in supply chain integration depending on whether your business serves foreign or domestic markets? If your company engages both domestic and foreign markets, does this lead to any conflicts in how supply chains are integrated?

If your business is transnational is there a disconnect between Chinese suppliers and Western buyers in terms of business expectations? In other words, how does culture play into the movement of commodities and communication with clients?

How do you understand logistics?

To what extent does logistics impact upon the economy or profitability of your company?

Are there cases or instances when supply chain quality can ever be sacrificed to maintain deals or whether solid deals result in the solid execution of logistics integration? Is the emphasis on getting paid or on supply chain innovation? Or are there tensions here?

If your business is prepared to live with performance gaps for the sake of deals what are the implications for labour performance measurement?

What sort of software programs do you use to measure KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) databases?

What sort of time cycle operates with these KPIs – is it an hourly measure or maybe daily or even monthly? Or perhaps it’s a by-the-minute sort of measure on how products and activities are moving along supply chains?

Do you know if workers in your company ever feel under stress to ensure they meet daily KPI targets?

What happens if they don’t meet KPI targets? Are any disciplinary measures taken?

How does the company deal with hold ups in supply chains by partner associates? Are you aware of such holdups via information from the KPIs or ERPs?


One Comment on “Logistics as a Technology of Governance and Measure”

  1. 1 Mukda Pratheepwatanawong said at 12:01 am on April 24th, 2010:

    Wu Yang and I found out that communication is the main success in logistics industry and the type of communication used by a logistics company would further indicate the transformation of a country’s development.

    The visit to one of the small logistics agency in Ningbo had proved that logistics undertakes the application of technologies of measure, the database and spreadsheet.

    The small logistics company make use of clocking machine (having small cardboard to identify each employees). This is a cheap and easy way to keep track on individual employees daily workings hours.

    Spreadsheet, database and cargo software are also another technologies measure to increase the accuracy and efficiency of logistics work in terms of keeping on track on containers.

    In order to further understand how the type of communication has transformed or developed the company, further research should analyse and evaluate on what technology or software were use in the past, what are being used in the present and what is possible to be used in the future.


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