The United Kingdom has been one of the key links in EU supply chains for more than 40 years. BBC Newsnight has recently reported on how Brexit could break that chain and what the consequences could be for manufacturers. I like the video and have used it for my Supply Chain Risk Management course to discuss this topic with my students.
New research published in Science (Poore & Nemecek, 2018) analyzes land use in food supply chains. An astounding 3.1 billion ha reduction in land use could be possible by excluding animal products from current diets. That is an area equivalent to Australia + China + European Union + United States. The author also shows that animal products use about 83% of the world’s farmland and contribute about 57% of food’s different emissions, despite providing only 18% of our calories. These findings demonstrate that we need to shift from “company thinking” to “supply chain thinking” if we want to see the full picture.
All successful business models provide a solution for a problem. Let us identify such a “problem” in academia: As university teachers we all know that grading students’ essays can be a tedious and time-consuming endeavor. If that is the problem, a solution could be to let software grade the essays. Five years ago, my immediate reaction would have been that this could never work. However, now, in the era of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it increasingly does work. If we acknowledge that AI is able to drive cars, predict court decisions better than experts and automatically schedules our meetings, we should also acknowledge that AI will very soon support and soon replace us when it comes to grading students’ essays. Pioneers of so-called “robo-graders” believe that “the time is right and it’s really starting to be used now”. Robo-graders learn what is considered good writing by analyzing essays graded by humans. The automated programs then score essays themselves by scanning for the same features.
Exports can be decomposed into a foreign value added (FVA) and a domestic value added (DVA) component. FVA is a key measure of the importance of global supply chains. It refers to the imported goods and services incorporated in a country’s exports. DVA relates to the contribution of a country’s own (i.e. domestic) factors of production. The 2018 World Investment Report, recently published by UNCTAD, shows that “[f]rom 1990 until 2010, the share of FVA in total exports rose continuously, contributing to the growth in global trade” and, “in the past decade, for the first time in 30 years, the growth […] has come to a halt, with the share of FVA declining to 30 per cent in 2017”. But what are the reasons for a declining importance of the “extended workbench” model? First, the model is based on arbitrage; however, the economic success of emerging countries has led to an increase in labor costs. Second, manufacturing in high-wage countries is becoming increasingly profitable due to recent advances in robotics.
Emerald has recently announced the winners of their 2018 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence. Numerous SCM-related articles have received outstanding paper or highly commended awards, and might thus serve as excellent articles to read during summer. Several winning articles relate to external (Abdallah, Abdullah & Saleh, Fawcett et al. and Ralston, Richey & Grawe) and internal (Guo et al., Makepeace, Tatham & Wu and Roh et al.) supply chain relationships. Other articles are about risk management (Jahre, Min, Park & Ahn and Oliveira & Handfield) and resilience (Ali, Mahfouz & Arisha and Tukamuhabwa, Stevenson & Busby). Other winning articles deal with sustainability (Busse et al., Dubey, Gunasekaran & Papadopoulos and Ghani et al.), complexity (Gerschberger, Manuj & Freinberger and Sayed, Hendry & Bell), the Internet of things (Haddud et al. and Yan), disruptive innovation (Pérez, Dos Santos & Cambra-Fierro) and the human factor in SCM (Schorsch, Wallenburg & Wieland). Finally, McKinnon‘s article engages in the journal ranking debate, and our own methodological paper, Wieland et al., provides guidelines for scale purification.
More than many other management disciplines, SCM has been very successful to professionalize and reinvent itself. A good indication for this development are the 2017 JCR journal impact factors, which have just been released. Many, although not all, impact factors of SCM journals have improved. The journal with the highest impact factor among SCM journals and the seventh-highest one among more than 200 management journals is Journal of Supply Chain Management (6.105). Three SCM journals have impact factors between 4 and 5: Journal of Operations Management (4.899), International Journal of Production Economics (4.407) and International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management (4.215). IJPDLM is now even the Emerald journal with the highest impact factor, which is a great achievement! Two other SCM journals range between 3 and 4: Supply Chain Management: An International Journal (3.833) and Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management (3.667), but International Journal of Operations & Production Management (2.955) and Journal of Business Logistics (2.891) also come close to 3. Both International Journal of Logistics Management (1.776) and Decision Sciences (1.641) were able to improve their impact factors and get closer to 2. It might take some time until our journals will finally be acknowledged by qualitative rankings such as CABS’s AJG and VHB-JOURQUAL, as such rankings tend to be quite conservative. However, with such high impact factors there should be no doubt anymore that SCM plays in the same league as accounting, marketing and finance.
The Guardian has recently published an interesting article with a provoking title: Why We Should Bulldoze the Business School. The author writes: “[In] the business school, both the explicit and hidden curriculums sing the same song. The things taught and the way that they are taught generally mean that the virtues of capitalist market managerialism are told and sold as if there were no other ways of seeing the world.” The author demands “an entirely new way of thinking about management, business and markets” and argues: “If we want those in power to become more responsible, then we must stop teaching students that heroic transformational leaders are the answer to every problem, or that the purpose of learning about taxation laws is to evade taxation, or that creating new desires is the purpose of marketing. In every case, the business school acts as an apologist, selling ideology as if it were science.” To what extent does that also apply for our SCM courses?
Putting efforts into high-quality reviews for academic journals has been a task of idealists so far. Unfortunately, these efforts are mostly invisible for appointment committees. That is a pity for two reasons: First, if researchers frequently receive review requests from good journals this indicates that they are respected by their research community. Second, if researchers accept such requests they demonstrate a willingness to develop and serve the research community. However, a relatively new tool, Publons, has the potential to make a change. Publons provides “a platform that allows researchers to track, verify and be recognised for their peer review and editorial work”. The good thing: “A researcher’s peer review and editorial contributions can be displayed on their public Publons profile to show the world the impact they have on their research field and enhance their career.” Publons often even tracks the length of submitted review documents and can even be used to create a verified review report, which can be included in job and funding applications.
The Journal of Business Logistics has a call for papers for a Special Topic Forum on Participating in the Wider Debate on Resilience (PDF). Submissions are due: June 1st, 2019. The editors for this JBL Special Topic Forum are Andreas Wieland (Copenhagen Business School) & Christian F. Durach (ESCP Europe Business School).