Archive by Author | Andreas Wieland

Are Apple’s Promises to Protect Workers Routinely Broken?

“Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered”, as BBC Panorama reports in an article. Is this just another example of the underside of global supply chains? Watch the video from the article.

Are your Supply Chains Tiger and Orang-Utan Friendly?

Accounting for roughly 40% of vegetable oil production, palm oil is the most important vegetable oil worldwide. As a key commodity, it is an ingredient of a large range of products, including processed food, cosmetics, shampoo, and soap. A recent Greenpeace report reveals how palm oil supply chains are pushing Sumatran tigers and orang-utans closer to extinction (pdf). It becomes evident “that the palm oil sector is currently the greatest single driver of deforestation in Indonesia, accounting for about a quarter of all forest loss”. The report demonstrates that palm oil supply chains “are aiding and abetting the clearance of the Bornean orang-utan’s rainforest habitat and that of the even scarcer, critically endangered Sumatran tiger” and that “[t]hey have also been complicit in peatland destruction and depriving communities of their land and livelihoods”. How can research in the field of supply chain management help to recognize the true costs of palm oil production?

Design for Postponement

Today, I would like to draw your attention to one of my favorite articles in the field of supply chain management: Design for Postponement by Swaminathan & Lee (2003). The article identifies three key postponement enablers: First, process standardization, where the initial steps of a process are standardized across a product line and distinct personalities are added at a later stage (e.g., localized manuals or power supply modules of a printer). Second, process resequencing, where more common components are added at the beginning of a process (e.g., cut of clothes), whereas components that create product differentiation are added later (e.g., color of clothes). Finally, component standardization, where key components are standardized to postpone decisions. The article also explains interesting concepts like “vanilla boxes” and “partial postponement”. I believe that postponement should be a key element of a supply chain management curriculum and that this classic article is really helpful to teach it.

Swaminathan, J.M., & Lee, H.L. (2003). Design for Postponement. Handbooks in Operations Research and Management Science, 11 (Supply Chain Management: Design, Coordination and Operation), 199-226 DOI: 10.1016/S0927-0507(03)11005-5

Aboard a Cargo Colossus

New York Times reports: “As companies look for more efficient ways to move freight from factories in China to consumers in Europe, the Mary is among the newest giants, known as the Triple-E’s. Owned and operated by A.P. Møller – Mærsk of Denmark, the world’s largest container shipping company, the Triple-E’s went into service last year, muscling their way into the $210 billion container industry.” Watch the video from the article.

Human Rights in the End-to-End Supply Chain

“Certification programs have their merits and their limitations. With the growing availability of social media, analytics tools, and supply chain data, a smarter set of solutions could soon be possible”, as Robert Handfield and I argue in our paper, just published in Supply Chain Management Review. We believe that an evolution from company thinking to supply chain thinking will now help to make businesses more socially responsible: “Traditional solutions that focus just on a brand (e.g., Company A) or the labels used with the brand (e.g., a label saying that Company A’s product is ‘fair’) are being supplemented by solutions that recognize a brand’s network (e.g., Company A’s upstream supply chain) and reveal how all entities of that network are treated (e.g., an interactive map of the supply chain on a smart device)”. This transformation requires costly data, but becomes realistic as transaction costs are increasingly reduced due to new technologies, standards, and algorithms.

Wieland, A., & Handfield, R.B. (2014). The Challenge of Ensuring Human Rights in the End-to-End Supply Chain. Supply Chain Management Review, 18 (6), 49-51

Impact Factors of Supply Chain Management Journals

Some weeks ago, Thomson Reuters published the impact factors of well-known management journals as part of their Journal Citation Reports. I looked up the impact factors of several supply chain management journals. At least two SCM-related journals have an impact factor larger than 3, indicating that they belong to the best in class in the management realm: Journal of Operations Management and Journal of Supply Chain Management. Moreover, two other journals have an impact factor close to 3: Supply Chain Management: An International Journal and Journal of Business Logistics. Four additional journals were able to reach an impact factor between 1.5 and 2: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, Decision Sciences and International Journal of Operations & Production Management. Slightly smaller is the impact factor of the International Journal of Logistics Management. Finally, International Journal of Logistics: Research & Applications and Interfaces have impact factors smaller than 1. However, keep in mind that journal rankings have a downside and should not be the only criteria for judging the value of our research.

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