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Dancing the Supply Chain

Rarely have I put as much passion into an article as in the case of my new one, entitled Dancing the Supply Chain: Toward Transformative Supply Chain Management (JSCM, 2021). Herein, I argue that “[i]t is time to replace the modernist tropes of designing, planning, and managing the supply chain with a new metaphor that accounts for the transformative power of management: that of dancing the supply chain“. The article starts by challenging the conventional static and reductionist assumptions of the supply chain and reinterprets it as a social-ecological system. I then use the adaptive cycle from panarchy theory to describe the supply chain’s behavior: “An adaptive cycle sequentially accounts for growth and stability, as well as change and variety”. A panarchy is then presented as “a structure of adaptive cycles that are linked across different levels on scales of space, time, and meaning” (supply chain level, political-economic level, planetary level). I then analyze cross-level linkages within the panarchy, which reveals that these adaptive cycles interact. The article ends with a new research agenda “that will allow understanding the world’s empirical complexity differently and challenging the effectiveness and relevance of SCM research in a turbulent and uncertain environment”. I wrote this article in a way that allows it to be integrated in course curricula (M.Sc. & Ph.D.). I hope you will enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wieland, A. (2021). Dancing the Supply Chain: Toward Transformative Supply Chain Management. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 57 (1).

Learning How to Write an Article from How to Write a Screenplay

I was thinking about whether guidelines on how to write a screenplay can teach us how to write an academic article. Here are three ideas I got from the following video: First, both a screenplay and an academic article should be based on a clear story. This story should lead to a finish line that the reader can envision. Second, before presenting the character’s flaws and inner conflicts (in academia: the research gap), a good screenplay must have a set-up that presents the character’s everyday life (in academia: what the discipline has thought so far). Third, the article should develop gradually. In other words: Don’t rush the story.

What the 2020 Nobel Prize Means for SCM

This year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics goes to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”. Wilson “developed the theory for auctions of objects with a common value – a value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone”. Examples for this include the volume of minerals in a particular area and the future value of radio frequencies. Milgrom “formulated a more general theory of auctions that not only allows common values, but also private values that vary from bidder to bidder”. He demonstrated that an auction format “will give the seller higher expected revenue when bidders learn more about each other’s estimated values during bidding”. I am sure their work will now attract even more attention in the SCM discipline, because auctions already play an important role in many supplier–buyer relationships. Let us not forget the important work on auctions that has already been conducted in our discipline, for example by Wagner & Schwab (2004), Hartley and her coauthors (2006) and Carter & Kaufmann (2007), to name just a few.

Risk, Resilience, and Rebalancing in Global Value Chains

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has recently published a new report: Risk, Resilience, and Rebalancing in Global Value Chains. The authors show that becoming more resilient does not have to mean sacrificing efficiency. Their research highlights the many options for strengthening resilience. They argue that “[companies] have an opportunity to emerge from the current crisis more agile and innovative.” They also write: “Intricate supplier networks that span the globe can deliver with great efficiency, but they may contain hidden vulnerabilities. Even before the COVID‑19 pandemic, a multitude of events in recent years temporarily disrupted production at many companies. Focusing on value chains that produce manufactured goods, this research explores their exposure to shocks, their vulnerabilities, and their expected financial losses. We also assess prospects for value chains to change their physical footprint in response to risk and evaluate strategies to minimize the growing cost of disruptions.” I found this report to be very insightful.

News from the Journal of Business Logistics (Guest Post by the New Editors)

In today’s guest post, Glenn Richey and Beth Davis-Sramek highlight what will guide them in their tenure as the new Co-Editors-in-Chief of the Journal of Business Logistics.

What a pivotal time for those of us engaged in logistics and supply chain research! As the world experiences a global pandemic on a scale that no institution was fully prepared to handle, its effects have reverberated throughout supply chains across all industry sectors. One result should be the development of new research questions that may challenge long-standing theoretical frameworks and relationships. The aftermath of the pandemic also presents another opportunity for the field. As academics in the U.S., we traditionally heard questions along the lines of, “what exactly is a supply chain?” Now, however, we hear things like, “What must be done to fix ‘the’ supply chain?” As this question indicates, we find ourselves in a unique situation to educate a broader population on the economic and humanitarian importance of effective SCM.

As the incoming co-editors of the Journal of Business Logistics, we look forward to embracing these opportunities. We lay out our strategic priorities in an editorial in the last issue (Supply Chain Management and Logistics: An Editorial Approach for a New Era). They include expediting the review process and increasing the number of number of published manuscripts. Importantly, we also recognize that scholarly contributions from our international colleagues are critical in enhancing the reach and reputation of JBL. In the coming weeks, we will update the Editorial Review Board and ask a smaller group of scholars to serve as JBL Senior Editors. Now and in the future, we welcome feedback about how to advance our goals, how to serve our community of scholars, and how to disseminate the implications of our research to a broader set of stakeholders.

Robert Glenn Richey Jr is Chair of the Department of Supply Chain Management at Auburn University. Beth Davis-Sramek is the Gayle Parks Forehand Professor at the Department of Systems and Technology at Auburn University.

2020 SCM Best Paper Award Winners

Two of the leading operations & supply chain management journals have just announced their best paper award winners at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. The Journal of Operations Management’s Jack Meredith Best Paper Award 2020 goes to two winning papers: Wiengarten, Fan, Pagell & Lo’s (2019) paper is titled Deviations from Aspirational Target Levels and Environmental and Safety Performance: Implications for Operations Managers Acting Irresponsibly; and Bavafa & Terwiesch’s (2019) paper is titled Work after Work: The Impact of New Service Delivery Models on Work Hours. Journal of Supply Chain Management’s Annual Best Paper Award goes to Kim, Wagner & Colicchia’s (2019) paper The Impact of Supplier Sustainability Risk on Shareholder Value. Two other papers were shortlisted by JSCM: Longoni, Luzzini, Pullman & Habiague (2019): Business for Society is Society’s Business: Tension Management in a Migrant Integration Supply Chain; and Lanier, Wempe & Swink (2019): Supply Chain Power and Real Earnings Management: Stock Market Perceptions, Financial Performance Effects, and Implications for Suppliers. Congratulations to the author teams!

Never Miss a Call for Papers Again

Have you ever missed a relevant call for papers (CfP) from one of your favorite SCM journals? It can indeed be quite tedious to regularly track all the different CfPs that are out there. Sunny Hasija from The Ohio State University has now provided a solution for us. His webpage is generated nightly by scraping the websites of some of the leading SCM journals and other related journals for any CfPs. As a result, it contains a list of CfPs from these journals. Some journals might still be missing, but already now this provides a great overview. This website will surely be of great use to the entire SCM community. Well done, Sunny!

Remaining Carbon Budget

The IPCC defines the world’s remaining carbon budget as the cumulative net global anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the time that emissions reach net zero that would result in limiting global warming to a given level, accounting for the impact of other anthropogenic emissions. In other words, it allows us to calculate how much CO2 can still be released to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and 2°C, respectively. Currently, emissions equivalent to 42 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 are released globally every year. The following MCC Carbon Clock shows that time is ticking very fast and that we urgently would need to decarbonize our global supply chains.

Supply Chain Risk Management: Revisiting Ericsson

Norrman & Jansson’s (2004) case study on Ericsson’s supply chain risk management (SCRM) practices is definitely part of the canon of SCM literature. After 15 years, it was time for an update. Together with Andreas Norrman, I visited Ericsson in Stockholm to investigate their SCRM practices. The results can now be found in our new article, The Development of Supply Chain Risk Management over Time: Revisiting Ericsson. Our article demonstrates how Ericsson’s SCRM practices have developed, indicating that improved functional capabilities are increasingly combined across silos and leveraged by formalized learning processes. Important enablers are IT capabilities, a fine-grained and cross-functional organization, and a focus on monitoring and compliance. Major developments in SCRM are often triggered by incidents, but also by requirements from external stakeholders and new corporate leaders actively focusing on SCRM and related activities. Although our article did not focus on SCM in the era of COVID-19, decision-makers can learn about many practices and tools that might also be useful to cope with the current situation.

Norrman, A. & Wieland, A. (2020). The Development of Supply Chain Risk Management over Time: Revisiting Ericsson. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 50 (6), 641-666.

Let Us Not Go Back To Normal

Many observers are currently talking about how we could go back to normal as quickly as possible. But what is “normality” and is it desirable? Should we really turn to cost reduction and just-in-time processes again? Wasn’t that the reason to put all medical supply eggs in the China basket? Didn’t that make our supply chains extremely vulnerable? We should accept the corona crisis as a warning sign, as an opportunity to fundamentally question the structure of our global supply chains. The corona crisis has fortunately led to effective political measures worldwide. Based on scientific knowledge, political decision-makers seem to be able to anticipate the catastrophic consequences of not taking such measures. These measures certainly hurt, but they are necessary. Unfortunately, effective measures to flatten the curve of the climate and biodiversity crises have so far largely failed to materialize. The corona crisis has shown us that we cannot look at global supply chains in isolation, but can only understand them in a larger context, and we have understood that they require reformation. Hopefully we will be able to transfer this understanding to other crises. Instead of going back to normal, we should anticipate the catastrophic consequences of the old model and reimagine our global supply chains accordingly, thereby having the larger picture in mind. If we can do that, then there is at least something good about the corona crisis, however tragic it is overall. This transformation of our economic system should also guide our academic work in the months to come. Stay healthy!