One of the most interesting articles I have read recently is The Map Is Not the Territory: A Boundary Objects Perspective on Supply Chain Mapping by Fabbe-Costes and her coauthors (IJOPM, 2020). The authors argue: “Most past conceptions of SC mapping have involved identifying one map of a supply chain as a common reference point for all actors concerned. As such, a supply chain map, like a geographical map, is supposed to represent the SC ‘territory’.” They then show that no map can actually include everything, that is, “the map is not the territory”. The authors compare three paradigmatic positions: In positivism, a supply chain map is simply a representation of what the supply chain is (i.e., the territory). In interpretivism, a map is a mental individual representation of the supply chain. In constructivism, a map is what is needed to work and reach the shared goal – it is what is “at stake” for each “social world”.
Fabbe-Costes, N., Lechaptois, L., & Spring, M. (2020), “The Map Is Not the Territory”: A Boundary Objects Perspective on Supply Chain Mapping. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 40 (9), 1475–1497. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-12-2019-0828
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 specialtopicforums.com 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!
The world is currently watching the shocking cases of police violence in the United States. But racism also exists on a smaller, more subtle level. In a recent interview, Terry Esper, a logistics scholar from The Ohio State University, shares his experience with racism and gives us excellent advice.
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!