Supply Chain Resilience 2021

In association with The Times, Raconteur has recently published a very insightful report, entitled Supply Chain Resilience 2021. It covers many interesting stories. For example, the report urges us to rethink just-in-time ordering, because “the global semiconductor shortage has highlighted the pitfalls of procuring parts right at the moment they’re needed”. Another interesting article in the report asks what the supply chain industry can learn from the Greensill Capital collapse: “Greensill Capital, the ill-fated provider of supply chain finance, claimed to be offering vital support for hard-pressed small firms, but is SCF all that good for SMEs?” A third article I would like to highlight is about net-zero logistics: “The decarbonisation of supply chains is as critical to [a country’s] net-zero ambitions as it is difficult to achieve, but innovations are emerging to address the problem areas of air freight, shipping and road haulage.” Much of the report is in line with my own view of resilience.

How To Improve Your Writing Skills

What distinguishes a good paper? The idea should be creative, the methodological approach should be flawless, and there should be a theoretical contribution. Sure. However, good communication with the reader is at least as important as all of the rest. Unfortunately, very often I have reviewed manuscripts that contain interesting theories, data, and results, but are simply not well-written. As academics we are often busy, but there is one thing we all should do: read a book about academic writing. The reading time is well invested. I have two book recommendations. The first is Natalie Reid (2018), Getting Published in International Journals: Writing Strategies for European Social Scientists. An academic friend of mine once wrote on LinkedIn that this was the best book he had ever read. And it is really good. My favorite chapters deal with “paragraphing” and “constructing and argument, sentence by sentence”. My second recommendation is aimed at German-speaking academics: Gerlinde Mautner (2019), Wissenschaftliches Englisch: Stilsicher Schreiben in Studium und Wissenschaft. This is one of the best books I have ever read.

Reid, N. (2018): Getting Published in International Journals: Writing Strategies for European Social Scientists. Revised Edition. ISBN 0692929959

Mautner, G. (2019): Wissenschaftliches Englisch: Stilsicher Schreiben in Studium und Wissenschaft. 3rd Edition. ISBN 3825252191

Webinar: “Supply Chain Transformation for a Sustainable Future”, September 8, 2021

How can innovation and new business models transform global supply chains in the transition to a sustainable economy? On September 8, I look forward to joining Juliane Reinecke (King’s College London), together with our speakers from Anglo American and the World Economic Forum, to discuss this topic in a webinar on Supply Chain Transformation for a Sustainable Future. Please register at: https://cbs.nemtilmeld.dk/300/

Survey Research Design in Supply Chain Management

Survey research is one of the most important methodologies in our discipline. Over time, the demands on survey research in SCM have increased – for good reasons. In particular, the design of survey research must reduce the risks of both common method bias and respondent bias. In their important 2018 editorial, entitled Survey Research Design in Supply Chain Management: The Need for Evolution in Our Expectations, Flynn and her coauthors (2018) distinguish between four types of survey research designs. Only one of them, Type 4, sufficiently avoids these two biases. “[A] Type 4 design employs multiple respondents, with the independent and dependent variables addressed by different respondents. It contains some polyadic [i.e., not just one company] constructs, which are addressed by appropriate respondents from different sources.” Anyone who designs a survey in SCM should therefore read this editorial carefully and strictly adhere to the recommendation to use a Type 4 design. Otherwise they risk that the study has no chance of being published in a high-quality academic journal.

Flynn, B., Pagell, M., & Fugate, B. (2018). Survey Research Design in Supply Chain Management: The Need for Evolution in Our Expectations. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 54 (1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/jscm.12161

Authorship of Academic Papers

Every departmental coffee machine has probably already witnessed heated discussions on the subject of authorship. Indeed, there are no generally accepted standards for assigning authorship. McNutt and her coauthors (2018) define authorship as follows: “Each author is expected to have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; or have drafted the work or substantively revised it; AND to have approved the submitted version (and any substantially modified version that involves the author’s contribution to the study); AND to have agreed both to be personally accountable for the author’s own contributions and to ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work, even ones in which the author was not personally involved, are appropriately investigated, resolved, and the resolution documented in the literature.” One thing should be said clearly: Providing a few comments on a text certainly does not constitute “substantial contributions” and, thus, authorship – even if you are a supervisor.

Why Is the SCM Discipline So Silent About the Climate Crisis?

The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released today. Bringing together the latest advances in climate science, it addresses the most updated physical understanding of the climate system. Even without this new IPCC report, it should be clear that our planet is in an existential crisis: The scale and intensity of the recent floods in Germany have broken all records and the ongoing fires in Greece have reached biblical proportions; Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said these fires showed “the reality of climate change”. Devastating fires are also raging in Russia, Italy, Turkey, and various other places. Attribution studies show that the recent record-breaking heatwaves in Siberia and Western North America would have been impossible without man-made climate effects (Ciavarella et al., 2020; Philip et al., 2021). Much of the greenhouse gas emissions are generated in global supply chains. Possible solutions to the climate crisis, thus, include new supply chain structures, processes, and business models. Yet, despite the existential threat to our species from this crisis, our discipline has so far been strangely silent. Therefore, I hope that as many SCM scholars as possible will now read the 42-page Summary for Policymakers of the new IPCC report from cover to cover. Our discipline simply cannot continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2021): Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, Switzerland. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM

2021 SCM Best Paper Award Winners

Two of the leading operations & supply chain management journals have recently announced their best paper award winners. First, the Journal of Supply Chain Management’s best conceptual paper for 2020 is Fabrice Lumineau and Nuno Oliveira’s paper Reinvigorating the Study of Opportunism in Supply Chain Management. Grounded in a review of empirical studies of opportunism, the authors “provide suggestions about research designs and data sources that support an agenda that steers research to refine and develop the theory about opportunism”. JSCM’s best empirical paper for 2020 is Suurmond, Wynstra and Dul’s paper Unraveling the Dimensions of Supplier Involvement and their Effects on NPD Performance: A Meta‐Analysis. This meta-analysis is based on 11,420 observations from 51 studies and “provides strong theoretical and practical insights on the important phenomenon of supplier involvement”. Second, the Journal of Operations Management’s Jack Meredith Best Paper Award goes to Jillian A. Berry Jaeker and Anita L. Tucker, who published an article that is entitled The Value of Process Friction: The Role of Justification in Reducing Medical Costs. These authors examine “‘justification’—an otherwise non-value-added process step that introduces process friction by forcing workers to explain the rationale for requesting an optional service”. Congratulations to the authors of these great papers!

Lumineau, F., & Oliveira, N. (2020). Reinvigorating the Study of Opportunism in Supply Chain Management. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 56 (1), 73-87. https://doi.org/10.1111/jscm.12215

Suurmond, R., Wynstra, F., & Dul, J. (2020). Unraveling the Dimensions of Supplier Involvement and their Effects on NPD Performance: A Meta‐Analysis. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 56 (3), 26-46. https://doi.org/10.1111/jscm.12221

Berry Jaeker, J. A., & Tucker, A. L. (2020). The Value of Process Friction: The Role of Justification in Reducing Medical Costs. Journal of Operations Management, 66 (1-2), 12-34. https://doi.org/10.1002/joom.1024

Supply Chain Diversity Buffers Cities Against Food Shocks

The effects of the climate crisis are increasingly dominating our global news. We have recently witnessed several record temperatures in North America, Scandinavia, and Antarctica, to name a few. This existential crisis also requires making our food supply chains more resilient. A new study of food shocks and how to buffer against them (Gomez et al., Supply Chain Diversity Buffers Cities Against Food Shocks) has just appeared in Nature. The authors acknowledge that “[n]etwork topological diversity and connectivity are key attributes of resilient social−ecological systems” and argue that “[f]ood supply chains, along with other material inflows such as water and energy, are a close analogy to an ecological food web”. They “show that boosting a city’s food supply chain diversity increases the resistance of a city to food shocks of mild to moderate severity by up to 15 per cent”. The model relies on food inflow observations from U.S. metropolitan areas and allows to explain a city’s resistance to food shocks in terms of frequency, intensity, and duration. This is an excellent study, indeed, and I would like to see such studies more frequently in our discipline.

Gomez, M., Mejia, A., Ruddell, B.L. et al. (2021). Supply Chain Diversity Buffers Cities Against Food Shocks. Nature, 595, 250–254. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03621-0

Ranking Journals: Academic Journal Guide 2021 (“ABS List”)

The influential Chartered Association of Business Scholars has just published its Academic Journal Guide 2021 (“ABS list”). What does this mean for the operations and supply chain management (OSCM) research community? I have looked at the ranks for 15 major OSCM journals.

Once again, only the following OSCM journals were classified in category 4*: Journal of Operations Management, Management Science and Operations Research. To be honest, I wonder if the asterisk is really still appropriate for Operations Research.

The following OSCM journals were given a 4 in the 2021 ABS list: European Journal of Operational Research, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Journal of Supply Chain Management and Production & Operations Management. This is good news for our discipline, because it means that the Journal of Supply Chain Management has moved up into this important category. However, it would have been time to give this journal not just a 4, but a 4*.

The following OSCM journals were given a grade of 3: Decision Sciences, International Journal of Production Economics, Journal of Business Logistics, Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. Here, there are even two new entries: Journal of Business Logistics and Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management. While this is good news for both logistics and procurement scholars, I would have expected Journal of Business Logistics and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management to rank even higher.

The International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management lands at a 2 and the International Journal of Logistics Management lands at a 1 again. The low scores for these two journals in the 2021 ABS list are particularly strange given their quality.

My conclusion: The team behind the 2021 Academic Journal Guide appears to have listened – at least partly – to the harsh criticism from OSCM scholars. Although our discipline is certainly still underrated, compared to many other disciplines, there are finally some bright spots that give OSCM researchers a little more air to breathe. Empirically-focused OSCM journals were particularly disadvantaged by the ABS list in the past and three of them have now been upgraded. This step was overdue.

This slightly positive development for our discipline should not hide the harmful effects of rankings in general. Academia is increasingly about metrics rather than content. Assessment committees, bonus decisions and tenure-track regulations are increasingly about counting the names of certain journals per year – instead of reading them. The REF system in the UK has turned academic debate (i.e., quality) into a “race for points” (i.e., quantity) in the home country of the ABS list. This is a very negative development.

Therefore, it is gratifying that more and more universities are signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which asks “not [to] use journal-based metrics […] as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions”.

Supply Chain Resilience

In our new article, Two Perspectives on Supply Chain Resilience (Wieland & Durach, 2021, p. 316), we provide a new definition of supply chain resilience:

Supply chain resilience is the capacity of a supply chain to persist, adapt, or transform in the face of change.

Based on our observation that SCM scholars have often taken an engineer’s perspective to interpret supply chain resilience, we argue that it needs to be complemented with a social–ecological perspective. Our discipline is surprisingly isolated from the ongoing resilience debates in other fields, such as ecology and urban science. Supply chain resilience is not just about “bouncing back” and persistence, as the engineer’s view implies. Supply chain resilience promises to be about “bouncing forth”, adaptation, and transformation. It is time to study the assumptions we make about the supply chain more explicitly. The supply chain is not only an engineered system that needs to be stabilized, as it may be the case with a subway system. It is a fluid system that contains social actors and is anchored in our complex world.

Wieland, A., & Durach, C. F. (2021). Two Perspectives on Supply Chain Resilience. Journal of Business Logistics, 42 (3), 315–322. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbl.12271