Logistics executives say their career paths have been marked by relative stability and steady pay increases, but narrowly defined responsibilities, according to a study released at the annual meeting of the Council of Logistics Management last week in San Diego.

The study, conducted by James M. Masters and Bernard J. La Londe, professors of logistics at Ohio State University, shows that most logistics executives do not stumble aimlessly into the profession."An executive position in logistics is seldom a short-term, lateral career move for an individual whose expertise is in another area. Rather, the typical logistics executive has an extensive background in logistics and has worked his or her way up to a position of authority," the report stated.

The executives participating in the survey have worked in logistics for an

average of 17 years, the last 10 of which were with the same company. Some 97 percent hold a bachelor's degree and 46 percent a graduate degree. Of the graduate degrees, 80 percent were masters of business administration. An increasing number of logistics executives hold degrees in logistics or transportation.

Logistics executives earn respectable salaries. The average pay for a manager last year was $70,000; for a director, $100,000; and for a vice president, $150,000, according to the survey. Those wages have been edging up each year since 1990.

However, logistics executives also work long hours. Only 12 percent said they work a 40- to 45-hour work week. Some 41 percent work 46 to 50 hours a week and 39 percent work 51 to 60 hours. Two percent report working 71- to 80- hour weeks.

The job responsibility of logistics departments remains narrowly defined in areas such as traffic, warehousing and inventory. Only a minority of the executives reported activities in areas such as purchasing, packaging, forecasting and product planning.

The majority of respondents, however, said they had direct responsibility over logistics, as opposed to acting in only an advisory capacity.

Logistics executives foresee growth for their industry. Although they said their companies would not be hiring many more drivers, blue-collar or clerical workers, they do anticipate additional hiring of new college graduates and experienced professionals.

Information technology is playing an increasingly important role in logistics. When asked in previous surveys what area they would like to take additional courses in, most logistics executives said finance. Today they report a need for more study in information technology.

Similarly, when asked what forces will shape the logistics industry in the future, the executives said information will be the primary tool used to solve logistics problems and to open up new opportunities.