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Keywords:

  • Grounded theory;
  • Logistics research;
  • Qualitative: Social processes;
  • Theory development

Logistics research with an objective to construct theory and develop deeper insights into logistics social phenomena and test those theories relies on both qualitative and quantitative methods. Grounded theory is one powerful qualitative research tradition for the theory building objective, yet it is also one that is often misunderstood and misapplied. The result of this misunderstanding can, and has in other disciplines such as marketing and management, resulted in weaker grounded theory studies than ought to be and research claiming to emerge from grounded theory but does not. The article offers a review of the foundations of grounded theory and insights to important aspects of two similar, but different, approaches to grounded theory that most researchers ignore, but are critical for researchers to understand. We argue that (1) logistics needs more qualitative research, (2) grounded theory offers the potential for a unique and specific kind of insight as compared to other traditions, (3) thus specific tenants of grounded theory must be followed, anything does not go, and finally (4) being specific in the application of grounded theory means knowing the differences between the Glaser and Straus views and understanding that a choice must be made as to how to proceed with grounded theory research based on that knowledge.