The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) has begun near Paris today. Let us hope it does not fail again – like too many other conferences before. Indeed, time is slipping away and the world will face a bleak future if we do not act now. (A prediction of this future can be found in Stager’s (2015) recent comment.) What we will see are totally new business models or as Unruh (2015) puts it in a nutshell: “A rule-of-thumb I give managers is that if your sustainability performance indicators only improve when customers use your product less often, it means you’re in trouble.” But if business will not be as usual, we cannot afford to manage supply chains the same way as before. Rather we need to revolutionize our supply chain toolset. I expect that a large part of our future research projects will be about how supply chains, as the backbones of business, can make CO2-neutral business models happen.
Update (2015-12-12): A deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures has been agreed. The Paris Agreement is certainly not perfect, but it will provide a hook on which people can hang their demands now. This will have supply chain implications.
Journal rankings, h indices and citation counts have become the currencies of SCM scholars. But is this really what we should focus on? What about taking part in public debates? Indeed, SCM scholars have a lot of knowledge about the context of global business, including knowledge about social practices in low-cost countries, the pros and cons of outsourcing, and CO2 emissions in end-to-end networks. So, we have a lot to say that matters beyond academia! In their evocative comment, Prof, No One is Reading You, Biswas & Kirchherr (2015) argue: “An average academic journal article is read in its entirety by about 10 people. To shape policy, professors should start penning commentaries in popular media.” In a similar vein, Kristof (2014) in his comment Professors, We Need You! argues: “[Some] of the smartest thinkers […] are university professors, but most of them just don’t matter in today’s great debates.” We should wake up and make an impact!
It is certainly very insightful to read papers or books written by the leading scholars of our field. But wouldn’t it be even more interesting to watch videos with them talking about their careers, the development of our discipline and their personal contributions to this development? In the last couple of years, James Stock – who himself made a huge contribution to our discipline – conducted a series of interviews with leading logistics and SCM scholars. Both videos and transcripts of the interviews are available in his Video Archive of Leading Academic Business Scholars. This archive includes interviews conducted with Ken Ackerman, Daniel Wren, Bernard J. LaLonde, Donald J. Bowersox, James L. Heskett, Tom Speh, John T. Mentzer and John Langley. Sadly, some of these scholars have since passed away, but I am sure that their thoughts, as recorded in these interviews, will serve as a legacy for future generations of logistics and SCM scholars.