A new paper by Mikael Kervall and Henrik Pålsson presents a systematic review covering 93 peer-reviewed journal articles. The study was designed to advance earlier research in this area by providing a system perspective on barriers to development in urban freight systems. The theoretical knowledge about these barriers was analyzed and synthesized, the relationships between barriers explored, and the insights developed into a model of understanding managed change processes in urban freight systems.
From a system perspective, 11 categories of barriers to change in urban freight systems were identified and characterized. The barriers are, in different ways, related to each other and a managed change process for the sustainable development of urban freight systems.
The analysis shows that barriers discussed in the corpus of literature can be split into 11 categories. The most frequently mentioned barriers are related to cooperation, followed by knowledge. The least addressed categories are technology and infrastructure.
The researchers present a framework for addressing the barriers. A model for understanding categories of barriers and their connection to managed change processes in urban freight systems is proposed in this paper. The model consists of three groups of barriers within the process, and two groups in the system context, which should be addressed with different priorities in a managed change process.
Future research could support the development of sustainable urban freight systems by providing insights into change process governance, potentially by combining theory from areas like organization, systems, and networks with the system perspective on urban freight systems. In addition, research on non-European urban freight systems could increase the scholarly insights into the contextual impact on barriers and change processes.
Future studies could also explore methods to mitigate identified barriers, especially in the areas of cooperation, organization, politics, knowledge, and the first mover disadvantage. Finally, future research should continue to develop the model of the managed change process for urban freight systems and its use in supporting the sustainable development of these systems.
Photo credits: Thomas Schlijper