JSCM Paper Development Workshop in Copenhagen
The Journal of Supply Chain Management is conducting a paper development workshop (May 25–26) wherein participants may submit a working paper to obtain constructive feedback. The workshop shall provide training in crucial areas that are essential for publication in a premier academic journal, help participants to develop their working papers into mature papers that are ready for submission, and offer networking opportunities. The workshop will be hosted by Andreas Wieland, Co-Editor-in-Chief of JSCM. To apply for the event, send an abstract (max. 750 words) of your working paper by April 9. Acceptance of the abstract is a prerequisite for registration. The workshop is restricted to a maximum of 20 participants. The registration fee for this event is DKK 1000 (ca. € 135) and includes coffee, lunch, and a joint dinner on Thursday. After registration and prior to the event, participants are expected to share their working papers (max. 10,000 words) with their peers and prepare written feedback on three other papers. After the workshop, the most promising papers of the participants will be invited for submission to JSCM. For more information download our workshop flyer: JSCM Paper Development Workshop (PDF)
The Dark Side of the Cobalt Supply Chain
Cobalt Wars is one of the most interesting ARTE.tv documentaries I have seen recently. It looks at the supply chain of cobalt, a key ingredient in the batteries of our smartphones and electric cars, and the political, environmental and social challenges associated with that supply chain. (French with English subtitles, also available in German. Not available in all regions.)
Personal Predictions for Supply Chain Management in 2023
As in previous years, I am making a prediction about what could be important topics in supply chain management research. Here are three predictions: (1) OpenAI has demonstrated the incredible potential of machine learning, and this will have numerous implications for the management of supply chains. It is important for our discipline to consider the potential and drawbacks of this technology at an early stage. (2) Supply chain resilience remains a critical issue. For example, the recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases in China could lead to the closure of ports and factories, which would disrupt global supply chains. This topic will continue to be relevant in the future. (3) The climate and biodiversity crises continue to worsen, and their solutions are closely tied to supply chains. Human-caused emissions and the destruction of rainforests are directly related to supply chains, and new laws, such as those in Germany and the EU, reflect this. I wish you all a Happy New Year 2023.
OpenAI and Its Impact on Supply Chain Management
OpenAI has attracted a lot of attention in recent weeks, and for good reason. The research institute, which focuses on developing artificial intelligence technologies and promoting their safe and responsible use, has made significant strides in advancing the field of AI. One area where OpenAI could have a significant impact is in the field of supply chain management. The ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly and accurately could be useful for optimizing supply chain processes, identifying inefficiencies, and making more informed decisions. However, there are also potential drawbacks to the use of AI in supply chain management. There is a risk that the technology could be used to automate jobs and potentially displace human workers. There are also concerns about the ethical implications of using AI in decision-making, such as the potential for bias in the algorithms that drive the technology. Overall, the use of AI in supply chain management has the potential to be both beneficial and detrimental. It is important for researchers and educators in this field to carefully consider the potential impacts of this technology and to develop strategies for addressing the challenges it presents. This blog post was generated using ChatGPT, a chatbot platform developed by OpenAI.
Using Supply Chain Databases in Academic Research
In recent years, academic articles that use supply chain databases have become more and more common in SCM-related journals. Such databases (e.g., Bloomberg SPLC, FactSet Supply Chain Relationships, and Mergent Supply Chain) were originally not developed for use in academic research, but for use in business practice. However, they offer great potential for a better understanding of supply chains (or more precisely supply networks) and supply chain management and are therefore also very interesting for researchers. A recent article by Culot and her coauthors (2023) discusses these potentials and points out pitfalls for using supply chain databases in SCM research. The article is entitled Using Supply Chain Databases in Academic Research: A Methodological Critique and based on a review of previous studies using such databases, publicly available materials, interviews with information service providers, and the direct experience of the authors. I am sure this long-awaited article will serve as a reference for quantitative research relying on such databases for years to come.
Culot, G., Podrecca, M., Nassimbeni, G., Orzes, G., & Sartor, M. (2023). Using Supply Chain Databases in Academic Research: A Methodological Critique. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 59(1), 3–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/jscm.12294
The Threat to Supply Chains from Rising Gas Prices
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Union is currently experiencing a massive increase in gas prices. This threatens the resilience of many supply chains. An analysis by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) now shows that a small group of just 300 products causes a large part of almost 90% of the gas consumption of German industry during their manufacture. The five products with the highest gas consumption per euro of sales belong to the basic chemical industry. The analysis also shows that rising gas prices mainly lead to production cutbacks in gas-intensive products that can easily be replaced by imports. Therefore, despite domestic production outages, no significant disruptions to the supply chains are to be expected. “German industry can save a lot of gas with a small drop in sales if gas-intensive products are no longer manufactured in-house but imported,” says Steffen Müller, one of the authors of the analysis.
The Most Popular Supply Chain Class Readings
Have you ever wondered what supply chain literature is most commonly used in the classroom? Open Syllabus, a non-profit research organization, currently has a corpus of nine million English-language syllabi from 140 countries and data on class readings is available for a large proportion of these syllabi. I checked which readings with the term “supply chain” in the title are used the most in the “Business” category. Here are the top 15 readings (from highest to lowest appearance count; only first authors/editors): Chopra (1,380 appearances), Christopher (1,361), Jacobs (1,246), Simchi-Levi (1,148), Chopra (608), Bowersox (595), Lysons (503), Lalwani (484), Cousins (463), Russell (447), Coyle (387), van Weele (372), Monczka (365), and Krajewski (359), Cachon (329). These books are great, otherwise they wouldn’t be so popular. It is noteworthy though that Western and male perspectives on supply chains clearly dominate, despite calls for more diverse perspectives. I could also have imagined at least a few more critical and sustainability-focused books in the list. Of course, my simple approach has limitations due to the search for only one term and, therefore, some books may have been overlooked. Also, I have not cleaned the data, which may be why Chopra appears twice.
Sensemaking in Supply Chains
Something that is long-established in other management disciplines but sadly almost completely neglected in the SCM discipline is research related to sensemaking. In short, sensemaking “involves turning circumstances into a situation that is comprehended explicitly in words and that serves as a springboard into action” (Weick et al., p. 409). Such research is concerned with subjective interpretations rather than objective truth and is therefore better suited to the study of social science phenomena than much of the positivist research we see in contemporary SCM research. Sensemaking is closely associated with the name of Karl E. Weick and his way of analyzing phenomena. Among Weick’s most famous studies is The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch Disaster (1993). It could serve as a blueprint for analyzing SCM phenomena. Anyone considering a sensemaking study should read the book Sensemaking in Organizations (Weick, 1995). The article Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking (Weick et al., 2005) gives a very good overview of sensemaking.
Weick, K.E. (1993). The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch Disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(4), 628–652. https://doi.org/10.2307/2393339
Weick, K.E. (1995). Sensemaking in Organizations. SAGE. ISBN 080397177X
Weick, K.E., Sutcliffe, K.M., & Obstfeld, D. (2005). Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking. Organization Science, 16(4), 409–421. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1050.0133
A War in the Middle of Europe
The world is shocked by the Putin regime’s war of aggression against Ukraine – a war in the middle of Europe. It almost seems to me that our species has climbed back into the trees. This war already has many impacts on supply chains, and further implications will only become apparent with a time lag. Instead of taking the long necessary step to expand renewable energies, many EU countries have relied on cheap oil and gas supplies from Russia for too many years. This omission is now taking its revenge by restricting the scope for sanctioning the aggressor. High-tech products also depend on raw materials (e.g., palladium and neon) from Russia and Ukraine. This certainly adds to the current shortage of chips. The effects of this war on food supply chains could be particularly dramatic. Russia supplies important potash fertilizers and many countries around the world are urgently dependent on wheat harvests from Ukraine. But the fields will remain fallow this year.
Personal Predictions for Supply Chain Management in 2022
The year 2022 has been going on for quite a while. I see the following topics at the top of the agenda in both academia and business: First, the last few months have been characterized by a large number of supply chain hiccups. Missing chips in the automotive industry have become a symbol of this development. Therefore, supply chain resilience is more important than ever. Second, a lot is currently happening in the European Union in terms of supply chain laws. Stricter rules on supply chain liability are expected shortly, and several EU countries have recently pushed their legislation forward. Third, many companies are transforming their linear into circular supply chains, see the new DHL report entitled Delivering on Circularity. Finally, many companies are also concerned with net-zero goals – and more importantly with action plans for these goals. Many of these plans explicitly involve the supply chain. Although I am a bit late, I wish you a good supply chain year 2022.