Literature reviews represent a key genre for preserving and developing knowledge in many scientific fields, including the operations research (OR) discipline. Although the body of OR reviews shows a large diversity in terms of entities investigated, methodologies applied, and contributions developed, our discipline has been rather silent on the genre of literature reviews. As a consequence, the OR field misses (1) a classification of literature reviews, which would allow authors, readers, editors, and reviewers to distinguish various types of reviews, and (2) an overview of the landscape of (the types of) published reviews, which would allow identifying uncharted territories and untapped potentials of reviews. This meta review addresses both issues by suggesting a taxonomy of literature reviews in the OR field and applying the suggested taxonomy to the landscape of OR reviews. The proposed taxonomy distinguishes nine types of OR reviews (scoping review, selective review, tutorial review, theoretical review, algorithmic review, computational review, meta-analysis, qualitative systematic review, and meta review). In our empirical study, we apply the taxonomy to the body of 709 literature reviews published in 38 pertinent OR journals during the period 2011–2020. Our findings and implications include that reviews of all nine types have been published with a strong focus on scoping and selective reviews, and the remaining types of reviews have large, yet untapped potential to synthesize and create novel OR knowledge in different ways. These insights support scholars in specifying their different expectations of, needs for, and contributions of OR reviews.
A Pre-Print is available on RIS (UPB)