Dr Nihan Akyelken

Dr Nihan Akyelken is the recipient of the International Transport Forum's 2015 Young Researcher of the Year Award. An international jury of experts chose Dr Akyelken for her contribution to developing a conceptual framework for the governance of sustainable freight transport in the age of globalisation. The jury praised the paper for showing "a real new policy dimension" that is "relevant to the policies pursued by International Organisations such as the OECD and the ITF".

About the winning paper

It is no longer possible to distinguish between logistics and manufacturing systems," writes Akyelken in her winning paper, together with her associated author Hartmut Keller. "What we see as freight transport is in fact an integrated part of the changing trends of mobility.

The paper goes on to make a compelling case for an integrated perspective emerging logistics practices, manufacturing systems and freight transport policy: Shifts in global production and consumption patterns have wide-ranging economic and environmental impacts, not least on the sustainability of freight transport. The geographical distribution of environmental impacts caused by changing logistics and manufacturing patterns is closely related to the policies in place.

"Firm's decisions of where to produce and what mode of transport to use are strongly associated with regional and national policies and regulations and global agreements", Akyelken and Keller emphasise. In fact, policies set by territorial institutions - such as national governments or regional bodies like the EU - play a more significant role than the firms' own organisational routines.

Therefore, the approach to governance for manufacturing, logistics and freight movements needs to be holistic: First, it must look at the supply chain as the unit of analysis, considering the relative importance of institutions, firm behaviour and scale of governance. Second, it must involve actors from all levels such as the EU institutions, not only governments and firms. Third, it must pay special attention to the design of logistics and manufacturing practices.

"If economically and environmentally sustainable patterns are to be maintained in freight transport, a deeper understanding is required of these new logistics and manufacturing systems," concludes Dr Akyelken.