Understanding gender differences in logistics innovation: A complexity theory perspective

David Gligor, University of North Texas
Ivan Russo, Università degli Studi di Verona
Michael J. Maloni, Kennesaw State University


Innovation is now more critical for logistics than ever as the industry faces rapidly developing challenges with omnichannel distribution and the coronavirus pandemic. Extant studies of the drivers of logistics innovation have focused on firm-level attributes, largely neglecting micro-level attributes associated with individual logistics professionals engaged in the innovation process as well as the environments in which they work. This includes gender differences, which have been established as critical in both the innovation and logistics literature bases. Consequently, we draw on organizational management research and complexity theory to evaluate gender-specific combinations of logistics innovation antecedents, including individual-level attributes such as self-efficacy, willingness to change, and creativity, as well as job-level attributes such as job satisfaction, training, and job complexity. Although structural equation modeling reveals extremely limited insight into these antecedents, including gender differences, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) identifies four combinations of attributes for women and seven combinations for men that lead to high levels of logistics innovation. Importantly, the results not only demonstrate that there is no clear single recipe for effective logistics innovation but also corroborate the extant literature indicating that women and men approach innovation differently. Combined, our findings offer important insights into how firms can orchestrate their logistics innovation teams to meet rapidly changing customer needs.