Logistics management: its origin, conceptual evolution and meaning as a contemporary field of study

  • W. J. Pienaar Departement Logistiek, Universiteit van Stellenbosch


This article traces the origin of the word logistics, outlines its conceptual evolution, and explains the meaning thereof as a field of study in a contemporary management context. The contextual development of the concept is traced from its origin in Greek, along with its successive adoption in Late Latin, French and Dutch, up to its contemporary usage in Afrikaans. The article describes the establishment of the word logistique in French as a military concept during the Napoleonic wars, and its later extension to commercial usage subsequent to the Second World War. The development of the concept in a commercial context since then is detailed. Contemporary descriptions of logistics relating to its meaning in a commercial sense are discussed. Thereafter the article offers a contemporary definition of logistics in a business management context. It indicates how effective business logistics adds value. Finally the primary activities that form part of the logistics supply chain of products are briefly discussed.

Original Research