Dancing the Supply Chain

Rarely have I put as much passion into an article as in the case of my new one, entitled Dancing the Supply Chain: Toward Transformative Supply Chain Management (JSCM, 2021). Herein, I argue that “[i]t is time to replace the modernist tropes of designing, planning, and managing the supply chain with a new metaphor that accounts for the transformative power of management: that of dancing the supply chain“. The article starts by challenging the conventional static and reductionist assumptions of the supply chain and reinterprets it as a social-ecological system. I then use the adaptive cycle from panarchy theory to describe the supply chain’s behavior: “An adaptive cycle sequentially accounts for growth and stability, as well as change and variety”. A panarchy is then presented as “a structure of adaptive cycles that are linked across different levels on scales of space, time, and meaning” (supply chain level, political-economic level, planetary level). I then analyze cross-level linkages within the panarchy, which reveals that these adaptive cycles interact. The article ends with a new research agenda “that will allow understanding the world’s empirical complexity differently and challenging the effectiveness and relevance of SCM research in a turbulent and uncertain environment”. I wrote this article in a way that allows it to be integrated in course curricula (M.Sc. & Ph.D.). I hope you will enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wieland, A. (2021). Dancing the Supply Chain: Toward Transformative Supply Chain Management. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 57 (1). https://doi.org/10.1111/jscm.12248

Learning How to Write an Article from How to Write a Screenplay

I was thinking about whether guidelines on how to write a screenplay can teach us how to write an academic article. Here are three ideas I got from the following video: First, both a screenplay and an academic article should be based on a clear story. This story should lead to a finish line that the reader can envision. Second, before presenting the character’s flaws and inner conflicts (in academia: the research gap), a good screenplay must have a set-up that presents the character’s everyday life (in academia: what the discipline has thought so far). Third, the article should develop gradually. In other words: Don’t rush the story.

What the 2020 Nobel Prize Means for SCM

This year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics goes to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”. Wilson “developed the theory for auctions of objects with a common value – a value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone”. Examples for this include the volume of minerals in a particular area and the future value of radio frequencies. Milgrom “formulated a more general theory of auctions that not only allows common values, but also private values that vary from bidder to bidder”. He demonstrated that an auction format “will give the seller higher expected revenue when bidders learn more about each other’s estimated values during bidding”. I am sure their work will now attract even more attention in the SCM discipline, because auctions already play an important role in many supplier–buyer relationships. Let us not forget the important work on auctions that has already been conducted in our discipline, for example by Wagner & Schwab (2004), Hartley and her coauthors (2006) and Carter & Kaufmann (2007), to name just a few.

Risk, Resilience, and Rebalancing in Global Value Chains

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has recently published a new report: Risk, Resilience, and Rebalancing in Global Value Chains. The authors show that becoming more resilient does not have to mean sacrificing efficiency. Their research highlights the many options for strengthening resilience. They argue that “[companies] have an opportunity to emerge from the current crisis more agile and innovative.” They also write: “Intricate supplier networks that span the globe can deliver with great efficiency, but they may contain hidden vulnerabilities. Even before the COVID‑19 pandemic, a multitude of events in recent years temporarily disrupted production at many companies. Focusing on value chains that produce manufactured goods, this research explores their exposure to shocks, their vulnerabilities, and their expected financial losses. We also assess prospects for value chains to change their physical footprint in response to risk and evaluate strategies to minimize the growing cost of disruptions.” I found this report to be very insightful.

News from the Journal of Business Logistics (Guest Post by the New Editors)

In today’s guest post, Glenn Richey and Beth Davis-Sramek highlight what will guide them in their tenure as the new Co-Editors-in-Chief of the Journal of Business Logistics.

What a pivotal time for those of us engaged in logistics and supply chain research! As the world experiences a global pandemic on a scale that no institution was fully prepared to handle, its effects have reverberated throughout supply chains across all industry sectors. One result should be the development of new research questions that may challenge long-standing theoretical frameworks and relationships. The aftermath of the pandemic also presents another opportunity for the field. As academics in the U.S., we traditionally heard questions along the lines of, “what exactly is a supply chain?” Now, however, we hear things like, “What must be done to fix ‘the’ supply chain?” As this question indicates, we find ourselves in a unique situation to educate a broader population on the economic and humanitarian importance of effective SCM.

As the incoming co-editors of the Journal of Business Logistics, we look forward to embracing these opportunities. We lay out our strategic priorities in an editorial in the last issue (Supply Chain Management and Logistics: An Editorial Approach for a New Era). They include expediting the review process and increasing the number of number of published manuscripts. Importantly, we also recognize that scholarly contributions from our international colleagues are critical in enhancing the reach and reputation of JBL. In the coming weeks, we will update the Editorial Review Board and ask a smaller group of scholars to serve as JBL Senior Editors. Now and in the future, we welcome feedback about how to advance our goals, how to serve our community of scholars, and how to disseminate the implications of our research to a broader set of stakeholders.

Robert Glenn Richey Jr is Chair of the Department of Supply Chain Management at Auburn University. Beth Davis-Sramek is the Gayle Parks Forehand Professor at the Department of Systems and Technology at Auburn University.

Ten Keys to Online Teaching

This year feels like being pushed into the “online teaching water” to learn to swim. And for many SCM educators and students, the teaching season is just around the corner. In their recent article (Online Learning Can Still Be Social), Mucharraz y Cano & Venuti (2020) talk about ten keys to building a supportive digital community of learners: (1) plan and establish community norms; (2) provide extra emotional support; (3) allocate a space for informal interaction; (4) employ the right tools to organize team activities; (5) take advantage of gamification and nudges; (6) stimulate the senses; (7) consider the crowd; (8) promote peer learning; (9) use humor to reduce tension; and (10) embrace art as a way of learning. What I like about this list is that it acknowledges that properly supporting teachers and learners during this challenging time involves addressing social aspects, not just the choice between Zoom and Teams.

2020 SCM Best Paper Award Winners

Two of the leading operations & supply chain management journals have just announced their best paper award winners at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. The Journal of Operations Management’s Jack Meredith Best Paper Award 2020 goes to two winning papers: Wiengarten, Fan, Pagell & Lo’s (2019) paper is titled Deviations from Aspirational Target Levels and Environmental and Safety Performance: Implications for Operations Managers Acting Irresponsibly; and Bavafa & Terwiesch’s (2019) paper is titled Work after Work: The Impact of New Service Delivery Models on Work Hours. Journal of Supply Chain Management’s Annual Best Paper Award goes to Kim, Wagner & Colicchia’s (2019) paper The Impact of Supplier Sustainability Risk on Shareholder Value. Two other papers were shortlisted by JSCM: Longoni, Luzzini, Pullman & Habiague (2019): Business for Society is Society’s Business: Tension Management in a Migrant Integration Supply Chain; and Lanier, Wempe & Swink (2019): Supply Chain Power and Real Earnings Management: Stock Market Perceptions, Financial Performance Effects, and Implications for Suppliers. Congratulations to the author teams!

Writing a Great Case

The term “case” is used in two meanings: as case-based empirical research and as a learning tool. Let us have a look at the latter meaning. In an article published by the Decision Sciences Institute, titled Writing a Great Case, Visich, Roethlein, Gravier & Reyes (2020) discuss important issues that need to be considered when writing such a case, which comprises the case and a teaching note. They cover important aspects, such as the initial case development, the actual writing process, tactics for student engagement, the teaching note, and teaching the case. The authors write: “Though writing a great case can be time consuming, we have found that writing a great case can be a highly rewarding experience. The case is a learning tool that we can bring into our classroom to reinforce student knowledge and through class discussion provide them with a forum to support their analysis of the case. Through our own cases we can create an interesting and interactive learning experience for everyone in our classroom.”

Never Miss a Call for Papers Again

Have you ever missed a relevant call for papers (CfP) from one of your favorite SCM journals? It can indeed be quite tedious to regularly track all the different CfPs that are out there. Sunny Hasija from The Ohio State University has now provided a solution for us. His webpage specialtopicforums.com is generated nightly by scraping the websites of some of the leading SCM journals and other related journals for any CfPs. As a result, it contains a list of CfPs from these journals. Some journals might still be missing, but already now this provides a great overview. This website will surely be of great use to the entire SCM community. Well done, Sunny!

Remaining Carbon Budget

The IPCC defines the world’s remaining carbon budget as the cumulative net global anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the time that emissions reach net zero that would result in limiting global warming to a given level, accounting for the impact of other anthropogenic emissions. In other words, it allows us to calculate how much CO2 can still be released to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and 2°C, respectively. Currently, emissions equivalent to 42 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 are released globally every year. The following MCC Carbon Clock shows that time is ticking very fast and that we urgently would need to decarbonize our global supply chains.