In the face of disruptions and volatility, supply chain managers are concerned about resilience, which can be broadly defined as “the ability of a supply chain to cope with change” (Wieland & Wallenburg, 2013). Two recent publications present ways to implement supply chain resilience. First, the Business Continuity Institute has published a report that summarizes the key outcomes of its 4th Annual Supply Chain Resilience Survey. It discusses causes and consequences of disruptions, presents techniques to identify key supply chains, and offers approaches and solutions to achieve resilience. Second, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Accenture, offers a “blueprint for resilient supply chains based on four core components: partnerships, policy, strategy and information technology”, which is discussed in a report, Building Resilience in Supply Chains, developed as part of the Forum’s Supply Chain Risk Initiative. I believe that these publications will, indeed, help supply chain managers to cope with change.
I spent the last couple of days at North Carolina State University to work on a joint research project with my good friend Robert Handfield. I was very impressed by NC State’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, an “industry–university partnership dedicated to the development of future supply chain professionals”. Robert and two of his colleagues have published an article to describe how this cooperative works: NC State’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative educates in the real world (published in Interfaces in 2011). Essentially, it integrates “field-based student course projects with real problems that companies are facing”. The projects are identified by the company, but NCSU narrows the scope and assigns the projects to students. The SCRC’s organizational structure enables projects to be jointly led by SCRC directors and supply chain managers that financially support the SCRC. I believe that this cooperative might become a role model for other industry–university partnerships, as it perfectly combines supply chain theory and practice.
Handfield, R., Edwards, S., & Stonebraker, J. (2011). NC State’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative Educates in the Real World Interfaces, 41 (6), 548-563 DOI: 10.1287/inte.1110.0584