Of the many thousands of academics, consultants and practitioners who conduct rigorous research around the world, only a small number have an interest in the postal sector, and much of the research they conduct fails to reach other researchers or the organizations that might benefit from the results. To remedy this, a handful of researchers in management and economics have established the Postal Research Network, a society welcoming anyone with an active research interest in the postal and related sectors. Helen Norman, editor for Postal Technology International, talked to the network’s chairman, professor Kristian J Sund, about the ideas behind this initiative.
Who created the Postal Research Network?
The Postal Research Network (PRN) is a member-driven society open to anyone with an active research interest in this sector. The idea for a society or network to group researchers interested in post and parcel, and related sectors, emerged last year, at a dinner meeting during Post-Expo in Stockholm, Sweden. The basic principles behind the PRN were formulated by professors Dietl and Cremer from the universities in Zürich [Switzerland] and Toulouse [France], Dr José Anson, economist for the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and myself. We officially launched the network this summer.
Why does the world need a Postal Research Network?
There are a surprising number of researchers conducting serious research related to the postal sector around the world. This includes academics, of course, but also consultants, industry interest groups, and operators themselves. Many of these researchers, in particular the academics, only have a marginal interest in the sector, producing occasional pieces of research. Some have a more regular interest. Unfortunately most of these researchers tend to work in isolation, with only a handful of regular conferences and events at which they can share their results. Much of the valuable knowledge generated fails to reach other researchers, and the industry. By connecting these researchers in a network we can ensure a greater visibility and work with each other to raise the quality and impact of research.
What interesting pieces of research have you seen recently?
I recently stumbled across a really interesting study published in a real estate journal, conducted by a group of French academics, discussing whether energy efficiency is capitalized in rent and asset value on the corporate real estate portfolio of La Poste. Another study I read examined the potential of green supply chains, focusing on the experience of DHL. The results of such studies could be interesting not just to fellow researchers, but also to other operators.
What is the aim of the Postal Research Network?
Aside from networking researchers, we aim over time to encourage members to share and participate in publication and communication initiatives. A first initiative will be an inaugural research seminar next year, and we hope to put together a book project or journal issue in the near future. For now we are reaching out to researchers to sign up for membership.
Who can join the network, and what is the cost?
In principle anyone with an active interest in postal research can join, but in practice the network will mainly be of interest for researchers who are actively producing research. This could be academics in fields like management, economics, logistics, engineering, and so forth. Or it could be researchers in industry associations, in consultancies, or working for operators. We have deliberately defined a symbolically low membership fee of €20 (US$22) per year, to ensure easy access. Signing up is easy at www.postalresearch.net.
Dr Kristian J Sund is an associate professor of strategy and organization, and head of research group, at Roskilde University in Denmark. He has previously served on the advisory council of Royal Mail Group and has authored and edited several books, including the acclaimed book series ‘The Future is in the Post’. He is chairman of the newly formed Postal Research Network.
September 10, 2015