The replication crisis that has deeply affected neighboring disciplines is now under scrutiny in operations management. Eight scholars (Davis et al.: A Replication Study of Operations Management Experiments in Management Science) took the initiative to examine the replicability of ten influential experimental articles. Their results were disturbing: only six articles were fully replicated, two were partially replicated, and two completely missed the mark. Such results raise questions about the robustness of our basic research. In light of these findings, a pressing question arises: Does supply chain management, a closely related discipline, face a similar challenge? As we chart the course forward, it is imperative that both operations and supply chain management embrace transparency, rigor, and accountability. Addressing this crisis head-on will ensure that our disciplines maintain credibility, relevance, and trustworthiness in the academic and business communities. It is clear that there is a need for more replication studies that can challenge existing work.
Davis, A.M., Flicker, B., Hyndman, K., Katok, E., Keppler, S., Leider, S., Long, X., & Tong, J.D. (2023). A Replication Study of Operations Management Experiments in Management Science. Management Science, 69(9), _-_. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2023.4866
One hundred years ago, practitioners were the lead researchers seeking to improve production processes. Iconic developments such as the Toyota Production System emerged from the real-world challenges faced by these early scientists. Fast forward to today, and there is a growing concern that our research is losing touch with real-world practice. Toffel’s (2016) article, Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research, provides an insightful critique of the current state of operations (and supply chain) management research. In it, the author emphasizes that research should address real problems and offer solutions that practitioners can implement. The author suggests ways to bridge the gap between academia and practice: engaging with practitioners, site visits, working as a practitioner, and even forming consulting teams of practitioners. But making research relevant is not enough. Scholars must also ensure that their findings reach the right audience. The article calls on academic institutions – from journals to doctoral programs – to prioritize relevance alongside rigor.
Toffel, M.W. (2016). Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research. Production and Operations Management, 25(9), 1493-1505. https://doi.org/10.1111/poms.12558
The emergence of generative AI tools (e.g., ChatGPT) presents unique challenges to the academic research community. Many researchers are unsure how and when to report their use of such tools, and some even suggest that ChatGPT should be credited as a co-author. An enlightening editorial was recently published (Spanjol & Noble, 2023: Engaging With Generative Artificial Intelligence Technologies in Innovation Management Research—Some Answers and More Questions). The authors shed light on the issue through a survey of the Editorial Review Board members and Associate Editors of the Journal of Product Innovation Management. They conclude that a large majority of respondents are against crediting AI tools as co-authors. In addition, a large majority supports a policy requiring full disclosure of ChatGPT use in journal submissions. Although not written for the SCM research community, the suggestions contained in this editorial effectively transfer and provide much-needed guidance on the nuanced integration of AI tools into academic research.
Spanjol, J., & Noble, C.H. (2023). From the Editors: Engaging With Generative Artificial Intelligence Technologies in Innovation Management Research—Some Answers and More Questions. Journal of Product Innovation Management. 40 (4), 383–390. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12689
We have just released a new report, entitled Circular Supply Chain Transformation: Challenges, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs for Circular Smartphones and Computers. It highlights the importance, opportunities, and potential trade-offs associated with circular supply chains for electronic devices in a way that makes it easier for decision makers to understand and navigate the circular transformation. Importantly, the report emphasizes that everyone – from manufacturers and purchasers to distributors, recyclers, and policy makers – has a role to play in the transformation toward circular devices, and that it is possible to implement many of these circular initiatives in a way that reduces the environmental, social, and economic costs of electronic devices. By providing concrete examples and societal reflections, the report serves as a foundation and guide for decision-makers who want to reduce the negative impact of their electronic devices. The report is a result of the Reimagining Supply Chains Initiative – a collaborative research effort between Copenhagen Business School, Nordakademie, and Nordakademie Foundation.
The Journal of Supply Chain Management is conducting a paper development workshop (May 25–26) wherein participants may submit a working paper to obtain constructive feedback. The workshop shall provide training in crucial areas that are essential for publication in a premier academic journal, help participants to develop their working papers into mature papers that are ready for submission, and offer networking opportunities. The workshop will be hosted by Andreas Wieland, Co-Editor-in-Chief of JSCM. To apply for the event, send an abstract (max. 750 words) of your working paper by April 9. Acceptance of the abstract is a prerequisite for registration. The workshop is restricted to a maximum of 20 participants. The registration fee for this event is DKK 1000 (ca. € 135) and includes coffee, lunch, and a joint dinner on Thursday. After registration and prior to the event, participants are expected to share their working papers (max. 10,000 words) with their peers and prepare written feedback on three other papers. After the workshop, the most promising papers of the participants will be invited for submission to JSCM. For more information download our workshop flyer: JSCM Paper Development Workshop (PDF)
Today I would like to introduce you to our new article entitled Thinking Differently About Supply Chain Resilience: What We Can Learn From Social-Ecological Systems Thinking, which is the result of an exciting collaboration with Mark Stevenson, Steven A. Melnyk, Simin Davoudi, and Lisen Schultz. We argue that the supply chain resilience literature should be expanded to include insights from the social-ecological systems literature. Five practical examples of disruptive events are used to demonstrate how current theoretical lenses fail to capture the complexity of supply chain resilience. The article presents three manifestations of resilience (persistence, adaptation, and transformation) and seven principles of resilience thinking that can be applied to supply chains. We believe that a social-ecological interpretation of supply chains offers many new avenues for research, which may rely on the use of innovative research methods to advance our understanding of supply chain resilience. Our article has been published in the International Journal of Operations & Production Management.
Wieland, A., Stevenson, M., Melnyk, S.A., Davoudi, S., & Schultz, L. (2023). Thinking Differently About Supply Chain Resilience: What We Can Learn From Social-Ecological Systems Thinking, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 43(1), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-10-2022-0645
As the recent debate about ChatGPT has shown, artificial intelligence tools are advancing rapidly. Today, I would like to introduce two AI tools that can be used to improve the language of academic texts. The first tool, Grammarly, can be integrated into programs like Word and suggests improvements, both in terms of errors and style. Grammarly has already found a large following among academic writers. The second tool is called Deepl Write and is currently in beta. It allows users to type text into an input field and get an improved text back. I tested this tool today by using it to improve the text of this blog post. While such tools may not be perfect, I believe they can help increase participation in SCM research by non-native speakers and those who cannot afford expensive proofreading services. The development is moving fast and I am excited to see what comes next.
How should researchers construct research questions for their academic work? One intuitive answer is by spotting a gap in the existing academic literature. This is certainly an effective approach that follows the Popperian scientific method. In addition to gap-spotting, there is a second approach that deserves a little more attention: problematization. Alvesson and Sandberg (2011) describe this approach in their famous article Generating Research Questions Through Problematization (a must read!). They write that “[t]he dominance of gap-spotting is surprising, given it is increasingly recognized that theory is made interesting and influential when it challenges assumptions that underlie existing literature.” This is what problematization does: it is about identifying and challenging assumptions that underlie existing theories and generating research questions that lead to the development of more interesting and influential theories. Of course, we will still need gap-spotting in the future. But I do believe that SCM research could benefit from more problematization.
Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. (2011). Generating Research Questions Through Problematization. Academy of Management Review, 36(2), 247–271. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2009.0188
The “No-Excuse” Framework to Accelerate the Path to Net-Zero Manufacturing and Value Chains is a new white paper that aims to provide businesses with the information they need to operationalize their commitments to reducing carbon emissions and addressing the climate crisis. The framework is intended to be a central tool for the World Economic Forum Industry Net Zero Accelerator initiative, which is designed to bring together leaders across industry sectors, academia, government, and civil society to jointly shed light on global insights and best practices for reducing emissions. The framework is divided into four stages: (1) build the foundations, (2) change the game internally, (3) drive systemic collaboration, and (4) make it simple, inclusive and exciting. Each stage of the framework consists of a combination of research-based insights, well-established action areas, and emerging themes. The goal of the framework is to be applicable across key industries and geographies. This white paper is the first output of the Industry Net Zero Accelerator initiative and further resources are available for chief executive officers at the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders.
As in previous years, I am making a prediction about what could be important topics in supply chain management research. Here are three predictions: (1) OpenAI has demonstrated the incredible potential of machine learning, and this will have numerous implications for the management of supply chains. It is important for our discipline to consider the potential and drawbacks of this technology at an early stage. (2) Supply chain resilience remains a critical issue. For example, the recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases in China could lead to the closure of ports and factories, which would disrupt global supply chains. This topic will continue to be relevant in the future. (3) The climate and biodiversity crises continue to worsen, and their solutions are closely tied to supply chains. Human-caused emissions and the destruction of rainforests are directly related to supply chains, and new laws, such as those in Germany and the EU, reflect this. I wish you all a Happy New Year 2023.