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!
COVID-19 Update: These are extraordinary times that require all of us to depart from what we had planned! We, the chairs of the 2020 CSCMP European Research Seminar and the whole scientific committee, have decided to move the planned seminar in Barcelona to a virtual space.
We are aware that a virtual conference is not the same as a traditional conference. Some features of a conference can just not be virtualized. However, online formats can also offer new opportunities that will allow us to be experimental, involve new ways of interaction, provide new forms of feedback, and strengthen the ERS community. The more we discussed these opportunities, the more we are excited by them!
The virtual conference will take place at and around the time originally planned: June 18 and 19, 2020 plus probably a few days to also allow for some asynchronous formats. In addition, we will extend the deadlines for submission of full papers, conference papers, research idea proposals, and proposals for discussion forums by two weeks (i.e., until April 8). If you have already submitted, you don’t need to do anything.
We will soon inform you via our webpage about further details, but we can already promise that the virtual ERS will provide several exciting new formats that we are sure you will like!
Please visit: https://www.ers-conference.org/
Carl Marcus Wallenburg (WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management) & Andreas Wieland (Copenhagen Business School), conference co-chairs
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. This occasion gives me the opportunity to talk about an imbalance between the number of female and male scholars in our academic discipline. In a recently published analysis, Babbar et al. (2019) identified the top 50 SCM authors world-wide based on a measure of publication score. It turns out that less than 10 out of these top 50 authors are female. What could be done to make the great achievements of our female colleagues more visible? One way could be to explicitly mention the gender of female authors. In the case of multiple authors this could be done by replacing “Lastname et al.” with “Lastname and her coauthors” or “Lastname and her research team”, or in the case of a single author by replacing a neutral “the author” with “she” or “her”. Such linguistic tricks will certainly not solve the problem, but could help to produce role models and thereby inspire female readers to pursue an academic career. Could it be a good idea to include such suggestions in the author guidelines of our leading SCM journals?
It is time to take a closer look at Borgatti & Li’s (2009) important article: On Social Network Analysis in a Supply Chain Context. The article has become part of the canon of SCM literature since its publication and it is now a mandatory reading in many SCM master programs across the globe. In simple language, the article offers a very good introduction to the subject of social networks and relates social network concepts (e.g., ego network, node centrality, structural hole, structural equivalence) to the supply chain context. Even ten years after its publication, the article has not lost its relevance for our discipline. Last year, it was one of the ten most downloaded articles from the Journal of Supply Chain Management. The authors argue “that the network perspective has the potential to be a unifying force that can bring together many different streams of management research, including SCM, into a coherent management science perspective”. I agree.
Borgatti, S.P. & Li, X. (2009). On Social Network Analysis in a Supply Chain Context. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 45 (2), 5-22. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-493X.2009.03166.x
In her insightful Nature comment Rein in the Four Horsemen of Irreproducibility, Dorothy Bishop describes how threats to reproducibility, recognized but unaddressed for decades, might finally be brought under control, by avoiding what she refers to as “the four horsemen of the reproducibility apocalypse”: publication bias, low statistical power, P-value hacking and HARKing (hypothesizing after results are known). In the video below she makes several important points. My perception is that the SCM research community does not take the reproducibility debate seriously enough.
I am currently listening to Containers, an 8-part audio documentary about how global trade has transformed ourselves and the economy. Herein, journalist Alexis Madrigal leads us “through the world of ships and sailors, technology and tugboats, warehouses and cranes”. I am sure this documentary will be interesting also for many of the readers of this blog.
When I made my predictions last year, the first one being about new technologies, the second one related to our planetary boundaries, I certainly underestimated the pace of these developments.
The first prediction has now already materialized in many companies across the globe. More and more supply chain managers I have talked to have implemented innovative solutions, such as robotic process automation and process mining. What I can also see are more and more business models that rely on machine learning.
The second prediction came true in an oppressive way: Europe was hit by an unprecedented heat wave, Southern Africa by a terrifying drought. The Amazon – on fire. Siberia – on fire. And now? Australia is on fire; it is estimated that, so far, at least 480,000,000 mammals, birds and reptiles were killed. This is not a Mad Max movie; the world is in climate crisis. Political leadership is lacking from some of those countries with the highest per-capita emissions, including the U.S. and, tragically, Australia. What gives hope is the emergence of a global climate movement.
Instead of just repeating my predictions from last year, I would like to recommend three books related to these topics (see link). Visionary companies and courageous supply chain managers don’t look back, they don’t waste time with 20th-century business models. They look forward and are part of an exciting journey that shapes a digital, post-carbon economy. They will turn challenges into first-mover advantages and create great business opportunities. Isn’t this what SCM is all about?
I wish you a good start into the new year!
The whole world can see it clearly. A wind of change is currently blowing through the air and the past eventful weeks have almost turned it into a storm: The IPCC published its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate; world leaders at the Climate Action Summit in New York demonstrated growing recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated; climate activist Greta Thunberg received the Right Livelihood Award “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts”; several million people across the globe joined the Global Climate Strike; Germany followed other countries by introducing a carbon price; and the European Investment Bank decided to divest from fossil fuel projects. It is becoming increasingly clear that the fossil era, which has long shaped the global power structure, is coming to an end. While late movers are now desperately trying to conserve the obsolete fossil solutions of the 20th century with the help of trade barriers, those states relying on green technologies are gaining significant influence. The task of our discipline is now to adapt our theories, methods and practices to this new reality. Exciting times are ahead!