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Global Supply-Chain Effects of COVID-19 Control Measures

Among the numerous SCM articles that appeared in 2020, one was particularly popular: Global Supply-Chain Effects of COVID-19 Control Measures by Guan et al. (2020). The authors “analyse the supply-chain effects of a set of idealized lockdown scenarios, using the latest global trade modelling framework”. This model is an extension of the so-called ARIO model, which is often used in the literature to simulate how negative shocks propagate throughout the economy. The findings can be summarized as follows: “Short, sharp shock: stricter COVID-19 lockdowns imposed earlier have a smaller economic impact than moderate lockdowns that last longer, according to an analysis of global supply chains. The researchers suggest a cautious approach to easing restrictions could also prevent subsequent lockdowns.” The article is part of the 2020 Altmetric Top 100, which lists the most discussed articles across 20 disciplines. It was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

Guan, D., Wang, D., Hallegatte, S. et al. (2020). Global Supply-Chain Effects of COVID-19 Control Measures. Nature Human Behavior, 4, 577–587. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0896-8

Net-Zero Challenge: The Supply Chain Opportunity

A new World Economic Forum report, entitled Net-Zero Challenge: The Supply Chain Opportunity and co-authored with Boston Consulting Group, showcases “the opportunity that all companies have for huge climate impact through action to decarbonize global supply chains”. This report argues that addressing supply-chain emissions enables many companies to impact “a volume of emissions several times higher than they could if they were to focus on decarbonizing their own direct operations and power consumption alone”. Among the major findings of the report: (1) Many companies can multiply their climate impact by decarbonizing supply chains; (2) Eight supply chains account for more than 50% of global emissions; (3) Net-zero supply chains would hardly increase end-consumer costs; (4) But: decarbonizing supply chains is hard. The report contains a step-by-step guide, which shows nine major initiatives every company can undertake. These initiatives were identified through interviews with a large number of global companies that, according to the authors, lead the way in reducing supply-chain emissions.

Personal Predictions for Supply Chain Management in 2021

The pandemic has caused a great deal of suffering to many people. More than ever, the crisis made the general public aware of the importance of supply chain management. In the beginning, many realized that supply chain disruptions can create problems with supplies of food, face masks, and medicine. Later, many recognized the importance of functioning SCM for vaccine distribution. Most importantly, the crisis teaches us that we have to leave outdated narratives behind. Much has been questioned, many new ideas have emerged. This crisis could therefore turn into an opportunity for the necessary societal transformation. It might just be a foretaste of the much more existential crises that lie ahead. If lockdowns and vaccinations are answers to the pandemic, then the answers to the climate and biodiversity crises are what? Many of these answers might be found in our global supply chains. Identifying them could be an important leadership opportunity for SCM in 2021. Now is the time for the SCM community to positively shape the future!

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 optimizing 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), 58–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/jscm.12248

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!