Archive | May 2014

Ranking Master’s Programs in Supply Chain Management

Finding the right Master’s program can be a difficult exercise. In spite of their sometimes oversimplifying nature, rankings can provide a first indication to make this exercise a bit easier. One of such rankings is the 2013/2014 Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking, provided by SMBG, a French consulting company, and based on a global survey of recruiters, students and representatives of academic institutions. And here comes the Top 5 of Master’s programs in supply chain management: (5) Copenhagen Business School, Denmark: MSc in Economics and Business Administration – Supply Chain Management, (4) Purdue University, United States: MBA in Global Supply Chain and Logistics, (3) KEDGE Business School, France: MSc Global Supply Chain Management – ISLI, (2) Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria: Master of Science in Supply Chain Management, (1) Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands: MSc in Supply Chain Management. The full list can be found on the webpage of Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in Supply Chain and Logistics. But be careful: Always keep in mind that there are both intended and unintended consequences of such rankings.

Update (2015-02-01): Eduniversal updated their list, but only the order of the Top 5 programs changed slightly.

The State of the Retail Supply Chain

When we talk about supply chain management, we often intuitively take the perspective of the manufacturing industry. However, if the ultimate business objective of supply chain management is to satisfy the final consumer, it becomes clear that we should not forget about the special and major role the retail industry has in achieving this objective and, thus, consider their perspective. A new JDA-sponsored report, The State of the Retail Supply Chain (pdf), has been jointly developed by Auburn University and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). “The study reveals that retailers are investing in resources that will fuel revenue growth, support expansion of omni-channel fulfillment options, and harness big data for more accurate demand planning. The results also highlight the need for retailers to focus on supply chain talent management, network growth, and resource optimization.” These results mirror several of the results we have found in our report Trends and Strategies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

The Governance of Global Value Chains

It can be very insightful to see how supply chains are viewed in other research fields. Gereffi, Humphrey and Sturgeon (2005) take a transaction-based political economy perspective to explain The Governance of Global Value Chains. To do so, three variables (complexity of transactions, ability to codify transactions, capabilities in the supply base) are identified, and combinations of the values of these variables constitute the structure of global value chains, leading to five types of governance (market, modular, relational, captive, hierarchy). Hereby, “market” contains the lowest level of explicit coordination and power asymmetry, whereas “hierarchy” contains the highest one. I was somewhat surprised that the article, although having been cited more than 2,700 times, has been quite ignored by SCM researchers. Likewise, Ponte and Sturgeon (2014) in their recent article that attempts to draw together GVC theory lacks any citation to the SCM literature. We might, more than in the past, think outside of the boxes we have framed if we don’t want to miss results potentially relevant for our highly overlapping fields of enquiry.

Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T. (2005). The Governance of Global Value Chains. Review of International Political Economy, 12 (1), 78-104 DOI: 10.1080/09692290500049805

Ponte, S., & Sturgeon, T. (2014). Explaining Governance in Global Value Chains: A Modular Theory-building Effort. Review of International Political Economy, 21 (1), 195-223 DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2013.809596