Despite an increase in academic research about city logistics in recent years, the topic of city logistics in cities in developing countries, where some of the world’s biggest metropolitan areas are located, is seldom addressed. A new article by Marei and Savy aims to appraise the unevenness of logistics development throughout the world, by comparing city logistics between developing countries (or Global South countries), where “modern” and “traditional” models often coexist, and developed countries (or Global North countries), and to consider future developments.
Will logistics in Lagos, Cairo, Mumbai, or Mexico one day resemble logistics in New York, Tokyo, or London? Will methods from developed countries spread to developing ones? Will modern and traditional organizations converge, hybridize each other, or remain a divided dual system? Will original solutions emerge in developing countries?
Research by Marei and Savy shows that urban logistics in developing countries is not integrated but dual, i.e. split between two distinct and coexisting types of organization, management, and business model. In addition, the results of this research project show that considering the three cases (India, Mexico, and Morocco) implicitly required a comparison with city logistics in developed countries, considered as the reference standard. As a result, analyzing logistics in developing countries can advance knowledge not only on these countries but also, indirectly, on developed ones.
In conclusion, the researchers consider that the distinction between dualisation and bipolarisation is established, and shows that the difference between Southern and Northern city logistics is structural, systemic. Such a gap requires approaches adequate to each context, considering that innovation is intense on both sides and can follow original paths. In Bombay, the “dabbawalla” lunchbox distribution system, largely relying on the smart use of regional passenger trains, does not resemble the Western meal delivery services using bike couriers and was invented earlier. And more unexpected logistics inventions are bound to occur.