Archive by Author | Andreas Wieland

The Mechanisms of Supply Chain Resilience

Two ingredients are needed to create supply chain resilience (Wieland & Wallenburg, 2013): robustness, which is proactive, and agility, which is reactive. Robustness builds on anticipation “to gain knowledge about potential changes that might occur in the future” and preparedness “to maintain a stable situation”. Agility builds on visibility “to gain knowledge about actual changes that are currently occurring” and speed “to get back to a stable situation”.

Mechanisms of Resilience

Wieland, A., & Wallenburg, C.M. (2013). The Influence of Relational Competencies on Supply Chain Resilience: A Relational View. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 43 (4), 300-320 DOI: 10.1108/IJPDLM-08-2012-0243

Reducing Risk and Creating More Resilient Supply Chains

That does a supply chain risk researcher’s heart good: MIT Sloan Management Review has recently published two interesting case studies about the interface between risk and supply chain management. First, in the magazine’s spring issue, Chopra and Sodhi call attention to a dilemma faced by most managers: “Solutions to reduce risk mean little unless they are evaluated against their impact on cost efficiency”. To protect supply chains from disruptions anyway, the authors suggest two strategies: (1) segmenting the supply chain and (2) regionalizing the supply chain. Second, in the summer issue, Sáenz and Revilla present a five-step process started by Cisco shortly after a major risk event: (1) identify strategic priorities, (2) map the vulnerabilities of the supply chain design, (3) integrate risk awareness into the product and the value chain, (4) monitor resiliency, and (5) watch for events. Both articles complement each other very well and give a quick entry into the area of supply chain risk and resilience.

Chopra, S., & Sodhi, M.S. (2014). Reducing the Risk of Supply Chain Disruptions. MIT Sloan Management Review (spring 2014)

Sáenz, M.J., & Revilla, E. (2014). Creating More Resilient Supply Chains. MIT Sloan Management Review (summer 2014)

Academic Positions in Supply Chain Management

Are you considering an academic career in supply chain management? A premium resource, dedicated to academic positions in logistics, is the Academic Hiring Survey (pdf), provided by The Ohio State University. Akadeus offers an interesting collection of open positions in business schools worldwide. If you are looking for a position in North America, then the following webpages might be helpful: Decision Sciences Institute Placement Services and INFORMS Career Center (both pages contain some positions outside North America, too). In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the most important hub for academic positions at more senior levels is academics.com. Selected logistics/SCM-related positions can be found on the vacancies page of VHB’s WK Logistik (in German, but usually contains offers in English, too). A British webpage about academic employment is jobs.ac.uk; it is not restricted to positions in the UK. SCM positions are also announced on the Logprofs and Transci-Logistics-section mailing lists. Good luck with your application!

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

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