This week, SCM World have published their “SCM World University 100” ranking, which aims to list the best business schools for supply chain talent worldwide. According to this ranking, the top 5 universities worldwide are: (1) Michigan State University, (2) Penn State University, (3) University of Tennessee, (4) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and (5) Arizona State University. I am very pleased that Copenhagen Business School’s SCM program was selected as one of the top 10 programs in the EMEA region. The ranking is based on survey data collected from more than 2,000 supply chain professionals during the last couple of months. In the survey the participants were asked: “As a marker of supply chain talent, please select your top three universities.” Hereby, the respondents could select from a list of 192 universities that are known to offer supply chain management within their business programs. But be careful: Always keep in mind that there are both intended and unintended consequences of such rankings.
Supply chain management is currently undergoing a very interesting transformation. Supply chain management used to be a collection of logistics and procurement processes but it has become far more strategic in recent years. In more and more companies chief supply chain managers report directly to the CEO – or supply chain experts even become CEO, as in the case of Apple’s Tim Cook! But how do future supply chain managers need to be like? An article by Chao (2015) argues that “an understanding of technology and an ability to work in a global environment are increasingly important in the supply chain”. Technological and analytical skills are needed that enable companies to cope with the wealth of data. Another skill that is needed is the ability to construct complex and global supply chains. Companies expect supply chain managers to think strategically and solve problems. That also means that universities worldwide need to adapt their curricula to this changing demand.
Today, John McNamara, SVP Sourcing, Adidas Group, visited me and my SCM students at Copenhagen Business School. He presented a case study about the supply chain processes for t-shirts. It was very insightful and also a lot of fun for my students (and me). Thanks, John, for a great case study and an insightful discussion!
Some people argue that the ultimate goal of university teaching should be vocational qualification. Similarly, in the Bologna Declaration (1999), the European Ministers of Education agreed that undergraduate studies shall “be relevant to the European labour market as an appropriate level of qualification”. These arguments are certainly opposed to the Humboldtian model. About 200 years ago, Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote: “There are undeniably certain kinds of knowledge that must be of a general nature and, more importantly, a certain cultivation of the mind and character that nobody can afford to be without. People obviously cannot be good craftworkers, merchants, soldiers or businessmen unless, regardless of their occupation, they are good, upstanding and – according to their condition – well-informed human beings and citizens. If this basis is laid through schooling, vocational skills are easily acquired later on, and a person is always free to move from one occupation to another, as so often happens in life.” Universities have to decide between two perspectives of academic education: between – as the philosopher Nida-Rümelin boldly put it – “McKinsey” and “Humboldt”.
Today, I would like to draw your attention to one of my favorite articles in the field of supply chain management: Design for Postponement by Swaminathan & Lee (2003). The article identifies three key postponement enablers: First, process standardization, where the initial steps of a process are standardized across a product line and distinct personalities are added at a later stage (e.g., localized manuals or power supply modules of a printer). Second, process resequencing, where more common components are added at the beginning of a process (e.g., cut of clothes), whereas components that create product differentiation are added later (e.g., color of clothes). Finally, component standardization, where key components are standardized to postpone decisions. The article also explains interesting concepts like “vanilla boxes” and “partial postponement”. I believe that postponement should be a key element of a supply chain management curriculum and that this classic article is really helpful to teach it.
Swaminathan, J.M., & Lee, H.L. (2003). Design for Postponement. Handbooks in Operations Research and Management Science, 11 (Supply Chain Management: Design, Coordination and Operation), 199-226 https://doi.org/10.1016/S0927-0507(03)11005-5
Are you planning to integrate process modeling in your supply chain curricula? I am currently teaching a new course about supply chain process re-engineering at Copenhagen Business School. As part of a group work, the task of the students is to model processes between supply chain partners using the standard Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN). Initially, I thought about letting the students model the processes using PowerPoint or Visio, but then I realized that this isn’t the most appropriate way for such a group task. Then, I found a web-based process modeling platform that turns out to be ideal for my course. It is part of the BPM Academic Initiative of Signavio. I use the BPMN teaching packages in my course and offer my students the possibility of practical training with Signavio’s Process Editor. I have opened up a collaborative workspace and invited my students by sending an invitation link. No installation is required, it is free of charge.
If you speak German, today’s post might be particularly interesting for you. Once a year, the German Academic Association for Business Research (VHB), an internationally oriented association representing more than 2,100 mostly German-speaking members, awards its Textbook Award. The award aims to “[encourage] members of the association to expand their activities in the field of teaching” and to “highlight and acknowledge the importance of scientifically founded teaching in business research”. This year, the prize was awarded to a book related to SCM for the first time. It is concisely titled “Supply Chain Management” and was written by Michael Eßig, Erik Hofmann, and Wolfgang Stölzle. Another SCM book, a German translation of the 5th edition of Chopra and Meindl’s classic textbook, has been published this year. In a recent survey, the English version was selected as the most important academic SCM book. Not only will these two books help German-speaking SCM students to get in touch with our field, these textbooks will also help lecturers to prepare and teach their SCM modules.
Chopra, S. & Meindl, P. (2014). Supply Chain Management: Strategie, Planung und Umsetzung. 5. Aufl. ISBN 3868941886
Eßig, M., Hofmann, E. & Stölzle, W. (2013). Supply Chain Management. ISBN 3800634783
Finding the right Master’s program can be a difficult exercise. In spite of their sometimes oversimplifying nature, rankings can provide a first indication to make this exercise a bit easier. One of such rankings is the 2013/2014 Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking, provided by SMBG, a French consulting company, and based on a global survey of recruiters, students and representatives of academic institutions. And here comes the Top 5 of Master’s programs in supply chain management: (5) Copenhagen Business School, Denmark: MSc in Economics and Business Administration – Supply Chain Management, (4) Purdue University, United States: MBA in Global Supply Chain and Logistics, (3) KEDGE Business School, France: MSc Global Supply Chain Management – ISLI, (2) Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria: Master of Science in Supply Chain Management, (1) Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands: MSc in Supply Chain Management. The full list can be found on the webpage of Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in Supply Chain and Logistics. But be careful: Always keep in mind that there are both intended and unintended consequences of such rankings.
Update (2015-02-01): Eduniversal updated their list, but only the order of the Top 5 programs changed slightly.
I recently conducted a survey with leading supply chain management researchers and asked them a simple question: “If you were teaching a doctoral seminar, what would you assign as the […] most important books for the academic field of SCM (‘must-reads’)?” The following six books were recommended most often: (1) Supply Chain Management: Strategy, Planning, and Operation by Sunil Chopra and Peter Meindl, (2) Logistics & Supply Chain Management by Martin Christopher, (3) Designing and Managing the Supply Chain: Concepts, Strategies and Case Studies by David Simchi-Levi, Philip Kaminsky and Edith Simchi-Levi, (4) Supply Chain Management: Design, Coordination and Operation by A. G. de Kok & Stephen C. Graves, (5) Purchasing & Supply Chain Management by Robert M. Monczka, Robert B. Handfield, Larry C. Giunipero and James L. Patterson, and (6) Foundations of Inventory Theory by Paul Zipkin. This list compares well with a list of the 10 Greatest Supply Chain Management Books of All Time identified based on Google Scholar.
This year turns out to be the anniversary year of two of the major SCM-related conferences in Europe. First, as summarized by Gyöngyi in her blog, the NOFOMA was held for the 25th time. Second, the European Operations Management Association (EurOMA) just celebrated its 20th International Annual Conference in Dublin, Ireland this week. I very much liked Mark Pagell’s keynote address. Herein, Mark compared the North American and European systems of training Ph.D. candidates: Both systems have great strengths (i.e., more methodological training in the U.S.; more involvement of faculty members into everyday life in Europe) and great weaknesses (i.e., Ph.D. candidates in the U.S. are students rather than real faculty members; professors in Europe are employer and supervisor at the same time). As part of the conference, several seminars, workshops, special sessions were held (e.g., publishing workshop). I enjoyed the conference and will definitely join the 21st EurOMA Conference in Palermo, Italy in 2014.