• EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

1989 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Professor Edward Sweeney B.A., B.A.I., M.Phil., Ph.D., PGCert, SFHEA, FCILT, FCMI, FIoL, FRSA

Ed Sweeney is Professor of Logistics & Supply Chain Management at Edinburgh Business School and Deputy Executive Dean (Staffing) of the School of Social Sciences and Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University. He joined Heriot-Watt from Aston University in October 2021.

Ed was Head of Aston University’s Department of Engineering Systems and Supply Chain Management (ESSCM) from its establishment in July 2020 until his departure for Heriot-Watt. From early 2014 to late 2017 he was Head of Aston’s Engineering Systems & Management (ESM) group, and was Director of Aston Logistics & Systems Institute from 2016 to 2020. Ed was a member of the University Senate and the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences (EPS) Senior Management Team, as well as of many University committees and working groups. His teaching at Aston embraced full-time foundation year, undergraduate and postgraduate modules, as well as work-based programmes at B.Sc. and M.Sc. levels. He is a a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) in recognition of his attainments in learning and teaching support. Ed’s current research focusses on issues of supply chain process improvement, with a particular emphasis on the divergence between theory and practice (a publication on this topic in the International Journal of Operations and Production Management is available at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/IJOPM-05-2016-0258). In addition to his teaching and research, Ed works tirelessly in his outreach activities with business and industry, including through his membership of the Scottish national committee of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT). This work embraces executive education, knowledge transfer, research commercialisation and workshop facilitation.

Ed was previously Director at the National Institute for Transport and Logistics (NITL), based at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) in Ireland. NITL was established by the Irish Government in 1998 as the country’s centre of excellence in the transport, logistics and supply chain fields. Ed was responsible for the Institute’s award-winning supply chain management (SCM) development programmes. At NITL he also carried out research and consultancy work in collaboration with firms in the electronics, food and beverage, life sciences, and logistics sectors. Whilst at NITL Ed spent four-month sabbatical periods at the Italian National Research Council (CNR) in Naples as a Visiting Professor and at the Institute of Technology Carlow in south-east Ireland as Head of Lifelong Learning. He joined NITL in 1998 from the University of Warwick in the UK where he was a lecturer in manufacturing systems engineering at the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) from 1988. WMG was founded by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 as part of the UK Government’s strategy to regenerate manufacturing industry and allied supply chains. Whilst at Warwick Ed worked closely with leading UK engineering firms in his teaching, research and consultancy activities. He spent the final four years of his Warwick tenure at the University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM) in Kuala Lumpur where he was a Visiting Professor. His main responsibility at UTM was for the development of the Business & Advanced Technology Centre (BATC), an initiative of the Malaysian Government aimed at supporting economic and industrial development.

Ed’s early career was in his home country of Ireland where he undertook his undergraduate education. He graduated in 1986 from the University of Dublin (Trinity College) with a first class honours degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering (BAI). Since then he has completed a number of postgraduate programmes, all undertaken on a part-time basis whilst in full-time employment. His MPhil at the University of Warwick was on the subject of engineering economics, specifically the evaluation of investment opportunities in advanced technology. He completed a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) whilst undertaking his doctoral studies at the University of Hull Logistics Institute. His PhD thesis focussed on the practical implementation of supply chain improvement initiatives in a variety of industrial contexts.

Ed has worked and lectured in over 80 countries in Europe, North America and Asia, and has held Visiting Professorships and other part-time positions at several institutions worldwide. He is an experienced researcher with over 200 publications including books, papers in international peer-reviewed academic journals and leading trade publications. He is a member of the international editorial boards of several leading academic journals including the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, the International Journal of Logistics Management, the International Journal of Logistics: Research and Applications, Sustainability and the International Journal of Engineering Business Management. He also carries out peer reviews for other prestigious journals and conferences. In 2014 he was elected by his peers as Chairman of the Logistics Research Network (LRN) and served in that role for six years. LRN is the UK’s premier network for academics, researchers, practitioners and other interested individuals working in the area of logistics, supply chain and operations management. Its main objective is to facilitate the generation, promotion and dissemination of high quality and impactful research. Ed has worked as an external examiner at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in numerous universities in the UK and overseas. In addition to his core teaching and research work, he has also worked with many of the world's leading companies over the years in various capacities. Ed is also a regular keynote speaker at supply chain events in the UK and internationally. Ed also appears regularly in the print and broadcast media, most recently in connection with the impact of the pandemic on process improvement.     

Ed is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT), the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI), and the Institute of Leadership (FIOL). He is a former winner of the James Cooper Memorial Cup, awarded annually by the CILT for the best Ph.D. thesis on a logistics or supply chain topic in the UK or Ireland. He was the inaugural winner of the “Member of the Year” award of the CILT in Ireland in 2014 in recognition of his significant role in building an innovative and sustainable supply chain sector in Ireland. Ed is also an International Advisor to the Dubai-based Supply Chain and Logistics Group (SCLG), a membership-driven industry and business group engaged in improving supply chain processes locally, regionally and globally. He is also a member of the management committee of the Association of Supply Chain Professionals (ASCP) in India.

In his spare time Ed regularly attends a variety of cultural and sporting venues. His cultural interests include classical and other musical genres, opera, theatre and poetry. Ed is a supporter of the Ireland and Leinster rugby union teams. He maintains close links with his home town of Wexford in the Irish south east, where he is a Friend of Wexford Festival Opera and a member of the Wexford Historical Society. He is also a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and a member of the Delius Society.

Ed is married to Joyce Byrne and they share their time between their homes in Edinburgh (UK) and Wexford (Ireland). Joyce is an accomplished classical singer who has won numerous awards for her performances. She is also an experienced teacher and coach.  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


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