Archive by Author | Andreas Wieland

Rethinking Corporate Social Compliance in the Supply Chain

Managers are increasingly under pressure to ensure that their products bear attributes like “fair”, “ethical”, “green”, or “social”. Hereby, it becomes clear that solutions cannot just be found in the manager’s company, but in the company’s end-to-end supply chain. This has led companies to audit every company along their global supply chains against the own standards, which resulted in a large volume of auditing. The Rana Plaza building collapse, however, tragically showed that this top-down approach seems to fail. Departing from this observation, a new EY report, Human Rights and Professional Wrongs (pdf), provides an excellent summary of the problem and a set of recommendations for improvement. For example, the authors recommend to use third-party certifiers and auditors more strategically, to prevent orders from factories that have not had their status assessed, and to maintain longer relationships with a smaller number of suppliers. These recommendations could help to sharpen a blunt sword.

A Fourth Star for Germany

So far, Germany has won the FIFA World Cup three times, in 1954, 1974 and 1990, and there is a good chance that it will win it a fourth time this weekend. So, why is this a topic for a supply chain blog? Well, according to a report by Spiegel Online (in German), Adidas has already prepared its supply chain operations and started to put a fourth star, symbolizing the number of World Cup victories, on some of its newly produced Germany soccer jerseys. “We have always believed in the fourth star and prepared ourselves for various scenarios already long before the World Cup”, a spokesperson told the newspaper and added: “We are prepared for a successful outcome. In the case of a possible victory of the Germany national football team, first jerseys with the fourth star will be commercially available in the course of next week.” (It has to be mentioned that Adidas is also prepared for a victory by Argentina.)

Update (2014-07-13): Germany were, indeed, crowned world champions for the fourth time.

A Trail Guide to Publishing Success

Are you currently conducting conceptual, qualitative, or survey research? Are you also aiming to publish the results in a top journal? Then I have some tips for you that could bring you one step closer to your goal. These tips can be found in a recent JBL editorial: A Trail Guide to Publishing Success: Tips on Writing Influential Conceptual, Qualitative, and Survey Research. Herein, the authors identify and describe agreed-upon basics that can help to “(1) increase consistency in the review process, (2) reduce publication cycles, and (3) begin to roll back the length of articles”. For three types of research (conceptual, qualitative, and survey research), best practices are presented for crafting articles. I especially like a table with warning signs “that authors are wandering down a perilous path”, which can be used as a check list for your own research. These warning signs might also help reviewers to evaluate the quality of a manuscript.

Fawcett, S., Waller, M., Miller, J., Schwieterman, M., Hazen, B., & Overstreet, R. (2014). A Trail Guide to Publishing Success: Tips on Writing Influential Conceptual, Qualitative, and Survey Research. Journal of Business Logistics, 35 (1), 1-16 DOI: 10.1111/jbl.12039

The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains (Guest Post by Dara O’Rourke, UC Berkeley)

My guest post today comes from Dara O’Rourke. In his recent Science article, The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains, Dara argues that the field of supply chain management needs to significantly improve and integrate sustainability measurement systems and decision-support tools.

The science of sustainability measurement has progressed alongside efforts to advance supply chain traceability, impact assessment, and aggregation of data into sustainability indicators. Advances in life-cycle assessment (LCA) and product “footprinting” are increasingly being deployed in efforts to turn data into decision-support tools for global brands and retailers. However, the speed and dynamism of modern supply chains creates challenges for incorporating sustainability data into sourcing decisions. In addition, the use of divergent methodologies, data sets, and system boundaries have led to confusion across assessment initiatives. In order for these systems to generate accurate sustainability assessments, there is a need for consistent LCA inventory data and common data sets for up-stream activities; consistent life-cycle impact factors; better uncertainty analysis; localization of LCA data sets; modeling of nonlinear responses and ecosystem dynamics; and improved systems for valuing ecosystem services. Better data, decision-support tools, and incentives are needed to move from simply managing supply chains for costs, compliance, and risk reduction, to predicting and preventing unsustainable practices.

Dara O’Rourke is a professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the co-founder of GoodGuide, Inc. which recently launched PurView, a supply chain sustainability data platform for retailers and brands. You can follow Dara on twitter @DaraORourke.

O’Rourke, D. (2014). The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains. Science, 344 (6188), 1124-1127 DOI: 10.1126/science.1248526

Logistics Trend Radar 2014

Trend research helps academics and managers to discover topics that are interesting and important alike. DHL has now published the 2014 edition of its Logistics Trends Radar. Trends discussed in this new report include (1) omni-channel logistics, which refers to “[t]he integration of different offline and online shopping channels making use of interactive eTags with personalized content and integrating social media and mobile devices”, (2) anticipatory logistics, which involves “[t]he big data analysis of customer product searches, shopping histories, wish-lists and even cursor movements in order to send a shipment even before the customer places an order” and (3) crypto payment, which is focused on “universal payment systems that allow global cross-currency payments to clear in seconds, support any unit of value [...] and make room for new pricing models”. These trends provide flags for the logistics world of the future. Let us get prepared – both in academia and in management practice.

Ranking Master’s Programs in Supply Chain Management

Finding the right Master’s program can be a difficult exercise. In spite of their sometimes oversimplifying nature, rankings can provide a first indication to make this exercise a bit easier. One of such rankings is the 2013/2014 Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking, provided by SMBG, a French consulting company, and based on a global survey of recruiters, students and representatives of academic institutions. And here comes the Top 5 of Master’s programs in supply chain management: (1) Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands: MSc in Supply Chain Management, (2) Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria: Master of Science in Supply Chain Management, (3) KEDGE Business School, France: MSc Global Supply Chain Management – ISLI, (4) Purdue University, United States: MBA in Global Supply Chain and Logistics, (5) Copenhagen Business School, Denmark: MSc in Economics and Business Administration – Supply Chain Management. The full list can be found on the webpage of Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in Supply Chain and Logistics.

The State of the Retail Supply Chain

When we talk about supply chain management, we often intuitively take the perspective of the manufacturing industry. However, if the ultimate business objective of supply chain management is to satisfy the final consumer, it becomes clear that we should not forget about the special and major role the retail industry has in achieving this objective and, thus, consider their perspective. A new JDA-sponsored report, The State of the Retail Supply Chain (pdf), has been jointly developed by Auburn University and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). “The study reveals that retailers are investing in resources that will fuel revenue growth, support expansion of omni-channel fulfillment options, and harness big data for more accurate demand planning. The results also highlight the need for retailers to focus on supply chain talent management, network growth, and resource optimization.” These results mirror several of the results we have found in our report Trends and Strategies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

The Governance of Global Value Chains

It can be very insightful to see how supply chains are viewed in other research fields. Gereffi, Humphrey and Sturgeon (2005) take a transaction-based political economy perspective to explain The Governance of Global Value Chains. To do so, three variables (complexity of transactions, ability to codify transactions, capabilities in the supply base) are identified, and combinations of the values of these variables constitute the structure of global value chains, leading to five types of governance (market, modular, relational, captive, hierarchy). Hereby, “market” contains the lowest level of explicit coordination and power asymmetry, whereas “hierarchy” contains the highest one. I was somewhat surprised that the article, although having been cited more than 2,700 times, has been quite ignored by SCM researchers. Likewise, Ponte and Sturgeon (2014) in their recent article that attempts to draw together GVC theory lacks any citation to the SCM literature. We might, more than in the past, think outside of the boxes we have framed if we don’t want to miss results potentially relevant for our highly overlapping fields of enquiry.

Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T. (2005). The Governance of Global Value Chains. Review of International Political Economy, 12 (1), 78-104 DOI: 10.1080/09692290500049805

Ponte, S., & Sturgeon, T. (2014). Explaining Governance in Global Value Chains: A Modular Theory-building Effort. Review of International Political Economy, 21 (1), 195-223 DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2013.809596

Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2014

Every year, Emerald asks the editorial teams of several of its journals to nominate an Outstanding Paper and one or more Highly Commended Papers. This year’s winners have now been announced. These selections form part of the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2014. Awarded papers related to supply chain management are, for example, about logistics strategy and logistics integration (authors: Spillan et al.), supplier choice criteria (Voss), ocean shipping (Harrison and Fichtinger) and SME supply chain portfolios (Tokman et al.) [all published in IJLM], sustainability (Winter and Knemeyer), supply chain resilience (Wieland and Wallenburg), supply chain counterproductive work behaviors (Thornton et al.) and supply chain integration (Jin et al.) [IJPDLM], and pre-positioning commodities (Bemley et al.) and services operations management (Heaslip) [JHLSCM]. The winning articles are now freely available until the end of May, 2014. (See also: Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013.)

The Story of a Fair Mouse

If you believe that today’s post is about little rodents that behave equitably, then you have most probably not heard about NagerIT’s project to build fair computer mice. (Although the German term “nager” translates literally as “rodent”.) NagerIT took supply chain transparency to an extreme, disclosing the entire supply chain of their Fair Mouse (pdf) on their website, thereby highlighting suppliers with unknown details on working conditions. The Fair Mouse project reveals how difficult it can be to produce a product that is 100% fair: NagerIT admit that they stay with “the problem of the mining of the metals (except solder tin) and the assembly of the remaining components, which [they] still can not obtain from alternative (fair) suppliers”. However, a good start has already been made. The story of the Fair Mouse is, of course, a little like the story of the Fairphone, recently presented here by its founder.

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