Tackling the Replication Crisis in Supply Chain Management

The replication crisis that has deeply affected neighboring disciplines is now under scrutiny in operations management. Eight scholars (Davis et al.: A Replication Study of Operations Management Experiments in Management Science) took the initiative to examine the replicability of ten influential experimental articles. Their results were disturbing: only six articles were fully replicated, two were partially replicated, and two completely missed the mark. Such results raise questions about the robustness of our basic research. In light of these findings, a pressing question arises: Does supply chain management, a closely related discipline, face a similar challenge? As we chart the course forward, it is imperative that both operations and supply chain management embrace transparency, rigor, and accountability. Addressing this crisis head-on will ensure that our disciplines maintain credibility, relevance, and trustworthiness in the academic and business communities. It is clear that there is a need for more replication studies that can challenge existing work.

Davis, A.M., Flicker, B., Hyndman, K., Katok, E., Keppler, S., Leider, S., Long, X., & Tong, J.D. (2023). A Replication Study of Operations Management Experiments in Management Science. Management Science, 69(9), _-_. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2023.4866

Enhancing the Practical Relevance of SCM Research

One hundred years ago, practitioners were the lead researchers seeking to improve production processes. Iconic developments such as the Toyota Production System emerged from the real-world challenges faced by these early scientists. Fast forward to today, and there is a growing concern that our research is losing touch with real-world practice. Toffel’s (2016) article, Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research, provides an insightful critique of the current state of operations (and supply chain) management research. In it, the author emphasizes that research should address real problems and offer solutions that practitioners can implement. The author suggests ways to bridge the gap between academia and practice: engaging with practitioners, site visits, working as a practitioner, and even forming consulting teams of practitioners. But making research relevant is not enough. Scholars must also ensure that their findings reach the right audience. The article calls on academic institutions – from journals to doctoral programs – to prioritize relevance alongside rigor.

Toffel, M.W. (2016). Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research. Production and Operations Management, 25(9), 1493-1505. https://doi.org/10.1111/poms.12558

Integrating Generative AI Into SCM Research

The emergence of generative AI tools (e.g., ChatGPT) presents unique challenges to the academic research community. Many researchers are unsure how and when to report their use of such tools, and some even suggest that ChatGPT should be credited as a co-author. An enlightening editorial was recently published (Spanjol & Noble, 2023: Engaging With Generative Artificial Intelligence Technologies in Innovation Management Research—Some Answers and More Questions). The authors shed light on the issue through a survey of the Editorial Review Board members and Associate Editors of the Journal of Product Innovation Management. They conclude that a large majority of respondents are against crediting AI tools as co-authors. In addition, a large majority supports a policy requiring full disclosure of ChatGPT use in journal submissions. Although not written for the SCM research community, the suggestions contained in this editorial effectively transfer and provide much-needed guidance on the nuanced integration of AI tools into academic research.

Spanjol, J., & Noble, C.H. (2023). From the Editors: Engaging With Generative Artificial Intelligence Technologies in Innovation Management Research—Some Answers and More Questions. Journal of Product Innovation Management. 40 (4), 383–390. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12689

A Truly Transformative SCM Master Program

Supply chain management (SCM) master’s programs often emphasize functional silos, as reflected in course titles such as “Operations Management” and “Logistics and Distribution Management”. While these traditional elements are important, they risk overlooking transformative perspectives necessary in the face of today’s global challenges. Supply chains are entwined with wicked problems like climate change, human and animal rights, and geopolitical tensions. Thus, the need to incorporate broader disciplines, such as geography, geopolitics, and earth science, is more critical than ever. Furthermore, exploring the history of globalization, studying supply chain laws, and understanding the circular economy can guide us toward sustainable and ethical practices. It is equally essential to study the role of digitalization in shaping global commerce. All these diverse elements should be woven into new narratives, embodying an integrated, holistic approach to SCM education. In this transformative era, social sciences and humanities hold the key to these narratives, playing an increasingly critical role in shaping future SCM professionals.

The Tragedy of Deforestation in Our Global Supply Chains

Forests are not only a vital resource for maintaining a healthy and stable climate, but they also provide numerous ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation, soil conservation, and water regulation. However, supply chains that rely on unsustainable practices are a major threat to the world’s forests. This BBC video emphasizes that immediate action is needed to address the drivers of deforestation and promote sustainable supply chains.

Tenth Anniversary of the Rana Plaza Disaster

Ten years ago, on April 24, 2013, the world was shocked by the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. The tragedy claimed the lives of 1,134 garment workers and injured thousands more. The building housed several garment factories that supplied clothing to major global brands. Rana Plaza highlighted the dominant supply chain logic: that a T-shirt can only be sold at a very low price at the downstream end of the supply chain because the real cost is paid by the workers at the upstream end, who sacrifice their health or even their lives. In the aftermath, many apparel brands committed to improving working conditions in their supply chains. Yet, progress has been slow and uneven. Ten years on, there is still much to be done to ensure that garment workers are treated fairly and with dignity. As we remember the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy, we, supply chain academics, have a crucial role to play in the transformation of fashion supply chains.

Circular Supply Chain Transformation

We have just released a new report, entitled Circular Supply Chain Transformation: Challenges, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs for Circular Smartphones and Computers. It highlights the importance, opportunities, and potential trade-offs associated with circular supply chains for electronic devices in a way that makes it easier for decision makers to understand and navigate the circular transformation. Importantly, the report emphasizes that everyone – from manufacturers and purchasers to distributors, recyclers, and policy makers – has a role to play in the transformation toward circular devices, and that it is possible to implement many of these circular initiatives in a way that reduces the environmental, social, and economic costs of electronic devices. By providing concrete examples and societal reflections, the report serves as a foundation and guide for decision-makers who want to reduce the negative impact of their electronic devices. The report is a result of the Reimagining Supply Chains Initiative – a collaborative research effort between Copenhagen Business School, Nordakademie, and Nordakademie Foundation.

JSCM Paper Development Workshop in Copenhagen

The Journal of Supply Chain Management is conducting a paper development workshop (May 25–26) wherein participants may submit a working paper to obtain constructive feedback. The workshop shall provide training in crucial areas that are essential for publication in a premier academic journal, help participants to develop their working papers into mature papers that are ready for submission, and offer networking opportunities. The workshop will be hosted by Andreas Wieland, Co-Editor-in-Chief of JSCM. To apply for the event, send an abstract (max. 750 words) of your working paper by April 9. Acceptance of the abstract is a prerequisite for registration. The workshop is restricted to a maximum of 20 participants. The registration fee for this event is DKK 1000 (ca. € 135) and includes coffee, lunch, and a joint dinner on Thursday. After registration and prior to the event, participants are expected to share their working papers (max. 10,000 words) with their peers and prepare written feedback on three other papers. After the workshop, the most promising papers of the participants will be invited for submission to JSCM. For more information download our workshop flyer: JSCM Paper Development Workshop (PDF)

The Dark Side of the Cobalt Supply Chain

Cobalt Wars is one of the most interesting ARTE.tv documentaries I have seen recently. It looks at the supply chain of cobalt, a key ingredient in the batteries of our smartphones and electric cars, and the political, environmental and social challenges associated with that supply chain. (French with English subtitles, also available in German. Not available in all regions.)

Teaching Cases – “Global Sourcing at Nike” and “IKEA Goes Online”

It is always exciting to discover new teaching cases, especially when they are of very high quality. Two cases have just won awards in the 2023 Case Center Awards and Competitions. The first is called Global Sourcing at Nike and takes the perspective of Amanda Tucker, Vice President of Sourcing at Nike (authors: Michael W. Toffel, Nien-hê Hsieh, and Olivia Hull). It “explores the evolution of Nike’s efforts to improve working conditions at its suppliers’ factories”, addressing several key supply chain challenges. The second case is entitled IKEA Goes Online: Implications for its Manufacturing (authors: Jan Olhager and Kasra Ferdows). It focuses on the introduction of an app that allows customers to use their mobile phones to visualize and order products in a virtual room, and a second app that allows customers to shop remotely. Congratulations to all the winners. (See also last year’s winner: Apple Inc: Global Supply Chain Management.)