Academic English: Phraseological “Nuts and Bolts”

The best research might not get published if it is communicated in broken English. Recently, I discovered the Academic Phrasebank of the University of Manchester, a resource that was designed for scientific and academic writers who are non-native speakers of English. I believe that it is really useful, as it contains “examples of some of the phraseological ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing organised according to the main sections of a research paper or dissertation”. This includes examples that are related to introducing your work, referring to sources, describing methods, reporting results, discussing findings, and writing conclusions. In addition, it lists phrases “under the more general communicative functions of academic writing” such as “compare and contrast”, “describing trends”, and “defining terms”. This resource might also be helpful for native speakers who want to improve their academic writing skills. Also check out my previous posts about academic English on the sentence level and paragraph level.

Future Research Themes in Supply Chain Management

What are the future dominant research themes in supply chain management? In my new article, Mapping the Landscape of Future Research Themes in Supply Chain Management, co-authored with Robert Handfield and Christian Durach and published in the Journal of Business Logistics, we make an attempt to answer this important question. Our research is based on survey data collected from 141 SCM scholars. Big data ranks 1st on the list of topics that scholars expect will become important in the next years. Interestingly, this topic does not even appear in the top 10 of the list of topics that scholars think should become important. This list is led by sustainability and risk management instead. We calculated the differences between the will-become-important and should-become-important topics. The largest discrepancies can be found for: (1) the “people dimension” of SCM, (2) ethical issues, (3) internal integration, (4) transparency/visibility, and (5) human capital/talent management. These five under-represented topics could thus be good choices for future research projects or special journal issues.

Wieland, A., Handfield, R., & Durach, C. (2016). Mapping the Landscape of Future Research Themes in Supply Chain Management. Journal of Business Logistics, 37 (3), 1-8 DOI: 10.1111/jbl.12131

If you don’t have access to the journal, please feel free to request a copy of the paper via ResearchGate (blue button on their page).

Citations of Excellence Awards 2016

Each year, Emerald awards certificates to highly cited papers, hereby also taking into account the content of the papers (see my previous post). I identified five Citations of Excellence winners related to SCM this year: (1) Technology Designed to Combat Fakes in the Global Supply Chain by Li; (2) The Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Freight Transport by Pooling Supply Chains by Pan, Ballot & Fontane; (3) Ensuring Supply Chain Resilience: Development and Implementation of an Assessment Tool by Pettit, Croxton & Fiksel; (4) Closed-Loop Supply Chains: A Critical Review, and Future Research by Souza; and (5) Data Science, Predictive Analytics, and Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform Supply Chain Design and Management by Waller & Fawcett. All of these articles were selected from articles published in 2013. It can again be observed that articles dealing with sustainability or resilience seem to have a good chance to become highly cited, but also articles about innovative technologies turn out to be quite popular.

Li, L. (2013). Technology Designed to Combat Fakes in the Global Supply Chain. Business Horizons, 56 (2), 167-177 DOI: 10.1016/j.bushor.2012.11.010

Pan, S., Ballot, E., & Fontane, F. (2013). The Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Freight Transport by Pooling Supply Chains. International Journal of Production Economics, 143 (1), 86-94 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2010.10.023

Pettit, T., Croxton, K., & Fiksel, J. (2013). Ensuring Supply Chain Resilience: Development and Implementation of an Assessment Tool. Journal of Business Logistics, 34 (1), 46-76 DOI: 10.1111/jbl.12009

Souza, G. (2013). Closed-Loop Supply Chains: A Critical Review, and Future Research. Decision Sciences, 44 (1), 7-38 DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5915.2012.00394.x

Waller, M., & Fawcett, S. (2013). Data Science, Predictive Analytics, and Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform Supply Chain Design and Management. Journal of Business Logistics, 34 (2), 77-84 DOI: 10.1111/jbl.12010

The Fascinating Future of SCM

Who would have said ten years ago that SCM is an exciting discipline? Not many! But isn’t it exciting what is currently going on? We can observe a number of disruptive innovations that are about to shift the way business is done. If we want to get a taste of what we will experience in SCM in the near future, we can look at how high-tech companies define it already now (see for example Microsoft’s definition of SCM): It will be about true visibility across end-to-end processes – and these processes involve raw material suppliers, component suppliers, …, and ultimately consumers. We might soon need to trash current textbooks that are based on over-simplistic OR models and Excel sheets. Such approaches are often too static to keep pace with current developments. Business schools will have to re-think their SCM curricula: Programming skills and knowledge about artificial intelligence might soon be expected by any SCM graduate.

Impact Factors of Supply Chain Management Journals

Few days ago, Thomson Reuters published the 2015 impact factors of well-known management journals as part of their Journal Citation Reports. Two SCM-related journals have an impact factor of 4 or larger: Journal of Supply Chain Management and Journal of Operations Management. Two other journals have an impact factor between 2.5 and 3: Supply Chain Management: An International Journal and Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management. Journals with an impact factor between 2 and 2.5 are: Journal of Business LogisticsTransportation Research Part E, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. Journals with an impact factor between 1.5 and 2 are: Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Production and Operations Management. Among the journals with an impact factor between 1 and 1.5 is: Decision Sciences. Journals with an impact factor below 1 are: International Journal of Logistics: Research & Applications, International Journal of Logistics Management and Interfaces. However, keep in mind that journal rankings have a downside and should not be the dominating criteria for judging the value of our research. Financial Times has recently decided to include M&SOM rather than JSCM on the FT journal list which indicates that their list is not reliable at all to make SCM faculty decisions. Qualitative rankings such as VHB-JOURQUAL can be a good supplement to quantitative impact factors.

Should Companies Have a Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO)?

Supply chain management has certainly become far more strategic in recent years. But does that mean that companies should have a chief supply chain officer (CSCO)? In their new article, titled The Appointment of Chief Supply Chain Officers to Top Management Teams, Roh, Krause & Swink (2016) aim to answer this question. Based on empirical data, they show that “financial leverage, internationalization, and diversification all predict CSCO appointment to the [top management team]” and that these contingencies also “positively moderate the effect of CSCO presence on firm performance”. Most importantly, appointing a CSCO makes sense when financial leverage, internationalization, and diversification levels are high, but it does not make sense when these levels are low. But companies should be fast now: The authors also reveal that “most of the contingency performance effects manifest only for early adopters of the CSCO role”. I am sure that CSCOs will soon be appointed in many companies.

Roh, J., Krause, R., & Swink, M. (2016). The Appointment of Chief Supply Chain Officers to Top Management Teams: A Contingency Model of Firm-level Antecedents and Consequences. Journal of Operations Management DOI: 10.1016/j.jom.2016.05.001

Deductive, Inductive and Abductive Research in SCM

Deductive, inductive, abductive research processLike it or not: Our discipline is very much dominated by positivism and the application of the scientific method, which assumes that new knowledge can be created by developing and testing theory or, in other words, by induction or deduction. Another type of inference is abduction. Spens & Kovács (2006) present an overview of the deductive, inductive and abductive research processes.

Spens, K., & Kovács, G. (2006). A Content Analysis of Research Approaches in Logistics Research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 36 (5), 374-390 DOI: 10.1108/09600030610676259

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