A Munich court is currently hearing a case that involves several members of a supply chain: (1) Alfred Ritter, a manufacturer of chocolate (“Ritter Sport”), (2) Symrise, Ritter’s supplier of piperonal, an aromatic compound, (3) Stiftung Warentest, an influential consumer organization, whose verdicts frequently lead to an increase or decrease in sales in Germany, and (4) the end consumers. Stiftung Warentest conducted tests on Ritter’s hazelnut chocolate. They argue that piperonal, a vanilla flavoring, cannot be gained in a natural way and is, thus, falsely labelled by Ritter as a “natural flavor”. According to Symrise, “[t]he piperonal contained in this flavor is not ‘chemically’ manufactured, contrary to the statements made by Stiftung Warentest”. The court’s decision will be announced on January 13th. The case has confused consumers and influenced their shopping behaviors in the important winter season. It demonstrates that reputation is a strategic asset and reputational dependencies exist in the supply chain.
Update (2014-01-13): Alfred Ritter won the dispute against Stiftung Warentest.
Theory-building empirical research needs formal conceptual definitions. Particularly, such definitions are necessary conditions for construct validity. But what is a “good” formal conceptual definition? In his seminal JOM paper, A Theory of Formal Conceptual Definitions: Developing Theory-building Measurement Instruments, Wacker (2004) presents eight rules for formal conceptual definitions: (1) “Definitions should be formally defined using primitive and derived terms.” (2) “Each concept should be uniquely defined.” (3) “Definitions should include only unambiguous and clear terms.” (4) “Definitions should have as few as possible terms in the conceptual definition to avoid violating the parsimony virtue of ‘good’ theory.” (5) “Definitions should be consistent within the [general academic] field.” (6) “Definitions should not make any term broader.” (7) “New hypotheses cannot be introduced in the definitions.” (8) “Statistical tests for content validity must be performed after the terms are formally defined.” These rules are explained in detail in Wacker’s article. I am convinced that Wacker’s rules lead to better measurement instruments.
Wacker, J.G. (2004). A Theory of Formal Conceptual Definitions: Developing Theory-building Measurement Instruments. Journal of Operations Management, 22 (6), 629-650 DOI: 10.1016/j.jom.2004.08.002
As I have highlighted in a recent post (Interesting × Important = Impact), research needs to be impactful. But how can research impact be measured? IJPDLM has now published an article by Rao, Iyengar and Goldsby that answers exactly this question: On the Measurement and Benchmarking of Research Impact among Active Logistics Scholars. The authors compare “several commonly used measures of research impact to identify one that best normalizes for the effect of career stage”. One of these measures is the h-index. However, early career researchers are put at a relative disadvantage, as the h-index can only rise with time. This has led to the h-rate, which divides the h-index by the academic age of the scholar. Based on bibliometric data, the authors find that “[t]he h-rate provides the most appropriate basis for comparing research impact across logistics scholars of various career stages” and they provide benchmark h-rates for scholars to identify their research impact.
Amazon is testing delivery packages using drones. Is this the future of logistics?