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Decrypting the Belt and Road Initiative: Barriers and Development Paths for Global Logistics Networks

Nitsche, Benjamin

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious infrastructure and development project promoting sustainable economic growth through facilitating prosperous trade across Eurasia and Africa; however, its potential remains underexploited. Logistics networks along BRI routes face several challenges that hinder efficient operations. In addition, although uncertain of how the initiative will develop, logistics and supply chain management (LSCM) practitioners must align their networks with future developments. This study aims to synthesize current barriers to the BRI from an LSCM perspective; propose strategies for dealing with them; and outline and assess conceivable BRI development scenarios to create awareness for possible international logistics network developments. The study builds on a structured and moderated Nominal Group Technique exercise among 15 LSCM professionals to extract current barriers, mitigation strategies, and potential development scenarios, followed by a survey among 52 LSCM professionals to assess those issues. The study synthesizes and assesses 17 BRI barriers for LSCM practice and proposes 20 strategies for dealing with them, assessed in terms of effectiveness and complexity. Moreover, 14 development scenarios are assessed in terms of their probability of becoming reality and impact on the vulnerability of logistics networks, categorized into four scenario clusters (monitor, prepare, propel, and exploit) for guiding LSCM practice.
Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su12219110, MDPI