Archive | November 2011

What is Supply Chain Management?

This is the first installment in Arizona State University’s twelve-part introduction to supply chain management video series.


You probably know ISBN, which identifies a specific edition of a book. But do you know what ISSN and DOI are? Similar to the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for books, the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an identifier for serials and other continuing resources. For example, the online ISSN of the Journal of Business Logistics is 2158-1592. A digital object identifier (DOI) can be used to uniquely identify content objects in the digital environment, i.e. journal articles. A DOI can be resolved by entering it into a text box on the page or by extending this URL: For instance, the page will redirect to the paper with the DOI 10.2307/259056. By the way, whenever I link to a book in this blog, I will extend the Wikipedia special page for book sources by the ISBN, e.g. This enables you to select your preferred bookseller rather than having Amazon pre-selected.

Supply Chain Resilience 2011

Volatility, demand swings, and supply uncertainty are SCM trends (I recently reported). One of my primary research interests is in the area of supply chain resilience and I was particularly curious when I got the report Supply Chain Resilience 2011 into my hands. It reveals that 85% of the organizations surveyed experienced at least one supply chain disruption in the last twelve months. Among the major sources of disruption are adverse weather, unplanned outage of IT or telecommunication systems, transport network disruption, failure in service provision by an outsourcer, and, not surprisingly, earthquake and/or tsunami. It is also found that the main consequences of disruption are loss of productivity, increased cost of working, loss of revenue, customer complaints, and impaired service outcome. Most importantly, the report reminds us that many disruptions originate below the immediate tier one supplier. Again, a supply chain is not a triad, but a complex and dynamic network and must be managed as such.

“Facebook for Scientists”

I recently discovered ResearchGate, which is a Cambridge and Berlin based social network for researchers. It is described by its founders as “Facebook for scientists” and helps scientists to collaborate with colleagues and find new publications. ResearchGate has implemented workgroups, which are invitation-only. Own workgroups can be created in order to collaborate in a closed and secure environment. “ResearchGate was built for scientists, by scientists, with the idea that science can do more when it’s driven by collaboration.” This ResearchGate slogan reminds a little of supply chain management. Over 1 million researchers have already joined this service, tens of thousands of documents have been uploaded, and thousands of subgroups have been formed. So far, ResearchGate is particularly popular in the fields of biology and medicine. However, the topic Supply Chain Management has already more than 100 followers and a search for the keyword “supply chain” results in more than 500 researchers.