Archive | December 2012

An Introduction to Logistics and SCM Principles and Concepts

Being part of Apple’s iTunes Store, iTunes U contains educational audio and video files shared by institutions worldwide. It enables lecturers to create own courses for iPad to be accessed by students. Richard Wilding, Professor of Supply Chain Strategy at the Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Cranfield School of Management, has provided the iTunes U course Supply Chain Management & Logistics: An Introduction to Principles and Concepts. “This course is a collection of enhanced podcasts and videos which provide an introduction to the principles and concepts of logistics and supply chain management. By utilising the material all users will be provided with a foundation of terminology and concepts enabling them to move forward and investigate the topics in more depth.” So, the next time you will see students “playing” with their Apple devices, be sympathetic to them. Maybe they are just accessing a supply chain management course.

Egocentric Network vs. Whole Network Level of Analysis

Supply chains have often been regarded as interorganizational networks. An incredibly insightful article by Provan et al. (2007), Interorganizational networks at the network level: A review of the empirical literature on whole networks, makes clear that two different views on interorganizational networks need to be distinguished: (1) the view from the organizational level of analysis (also referred to as actor level, micro-level or egocentric network level) and (2) the view from the network level of analysis (also referred to as macro-level or whole network level). Egocentric theories often focus on the “embeddedness” of an organization in a network and on dyadic relationships. The authors argue that “[o]nly by examining the whole network can we understand such issues as how networks evolve, how they are governed, and, ultimately, how collective outcomes might be generated”. Their article provides a review of studies of whole networks. I am certain that supply chain management research can benefit from this valuable contribution.

Provan, K., Fish, A., & Sydow, J. (2007). Interorganizational Networks at the Network Level: A Review of the Empirical Literature on Whole Networks. Journal of Management, 33 (3), 479-516 DOI: 10.1177/0149206307302554

Global Supply Chain Survey 2013

I recently received this year’s Global Supply Chain Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). It turns out that the leaders in PwC’s survey “have supply chains that are efficient, fast and tailored – a model that lets companies serve their customers reliably in turbulent market conditions and that differentiates between the needs of different sets of customers”. The authors present six key findings: (1) Companies should view the supply chain as a strategic asset to achieve better financial results; (2) Companies should focus on three key drivers: “perfect order delivery, cost reductions and supply chain flexibility”; (3) Companies should recognize that one size does not fit all; (4) Companies should not outsource core strategic functions (i.e., strategic procurement, sales and operations planning and research and development); (5) Companies in emerging markets should introduce differentiating processes; (6) Companies are increasingly interested in next-generation technologies and sustainable supply chains. Most of these results are in line with my own observations.

Bangladesh Clothes Factory Fire

At the end of last month, a garment factory fire in Bangladesh killed more than 100 people and injured many more. Let us view this tragedy from a supply chain perspective. Supply chains are typically customer-focused. The incident suggests that customers expect cheap prices, but are not willing to pay for social standards. The lowest possible labor costs seem to be the single criterion for Western retailers when selecting suppliers. In Bangladesh, mostly women and often children are exposed to risks from lacking fire safety standards in factories. Who is to blame? Brands whose marketing experts create new consumer needs? Consumers who do not know a product’s supply chain? Retailers who are forced to select the cheapest suppliers to survive competition? Suppliers who do not invest in fire safety? Human rights groups urge Western governments to press retailers and apparel brands to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.