Dealing with the Unpredictable: Supply Chain Resilience
Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Operations & Production Management
Guest Editors: Kirstin Scholten, Mark Stevenson, and Dirk Pieter van Donk
It is estimated that around three quarters of organisations experience a supply chain disruption every year (BCI, 2015) – an event that impacts the flow of goods, materials, and/ or services (Craighead et al., 2007), thereby limiting the ability of an organisation to bring finished goods to the market (Jüttner, 2005). The disruptions felt by supply chains are wide ranging. For example, while some originate from within the supply chain, others are external; and while some are man-made, others are as a result of natural disasters. The list of potential causes of disruption includes quality problems, regulatory changes, earthquakes, counterfeiting, financial turbulence, tsunamis, demand fluctuations, terrorism, IT problems and cyber threats, and sustainability risks. The performance effects of such disruptions depend on the severity and duration of the disruption as well as the supply chain’s competency and experience in dealing with threats.
There is a large body of literature on supply chain risk management that seeks to deal with risks and their impact. Although this helps to put proactive measures in place, it is ineffective on its own in handling disruptions. It relies heavily on risk identification and the use of statistical information, yet many risks are unpredictable or unknown and statistical information may not exist (Fiskel et al., 2015). For example, an event may not have happened before or may be so infrequent that useful data is unavailable. Hence, supply chain risk management needs to be supplemented by other management practices that enable an effective and efficient response; and the recovery of an organisation from disruptions and disturbances.
Some organisations are better able to reduce the severity and duration of disruptions to their supply chains than others; and it is argued that this is because they are more resilient. Supply Chain Resilience (SCRes) is the capability of supply chains to operate in the face of disturbances and disruptions with or without a limited decrease in their performance (Christopher and Peck, 2004). Hence, SCRes enables supply chains to effectively and efficiently deal with a disruption and is at the heart of contemporary supply chain management thinking (Melnyk et al., 2014). SCRes can be an important strategic weapon in the current competitive environment; for example, organisations that are able to recover from a disruption quicker than the competition may be able to improve their share of the market. Thus, a recent review by Tukamuhabwa et al. (2015, p.8) defined SCRes in terms of the ability of “a supply chain to prepare for and/or respond to disruptions, to make a timely and cost effective recovery, and therefore progress to a post-disruption state of operations – ideally, a better state than prior to the disruption.”
The concept of SCRes has received significant attention in recent years from practitioners and researchers. For example, a survey by the World Economic Forum (2013) revealed that more than 80% of companies are concerned about the resilience of their supply chains. Meanwhile, SCRes has become a topic of significant academic attention (e.g. Sheffi, 2005; Leat and Revoredo-Giha, 2013; Pettit et al., 2013; Wieland and Wallenburg, 2013; Brandon-Jones et al., 2014; Day, 2014; Scholten et al., 2014; Ambulkar et al., 2015; Hohenstein et al., 2015; Scholten and Schilder, 2015; Stevenson and Busby, 2015; Kamalahmadi and Parast, 2016; Purvis et al., 2016). The theme of resilience is now a hot topic, not only in the insurance, food, automotive, and electronics industries but also in relation to H2020 projects, e.g. on city resilience. Hence, achieving and increasing SCRes is high on the agenda of researchers, organisations, supply chains, industries, governments, and economic institutions.
A considerable part of the available literature on SCRes is conceptual in nature (e.g. Ponomarov and Holcomb, 2009). Several recent literature reviews on the topic (e.g. Hohenstein et al., 2015; Tukamuhabwa et al., 2015; Kamalahmadi and Parast, 2016) show, however, that SCRes research has established supply chain principles that underpin resilience (Christopher and Peck, 2004; Sheffi, 2005); identified and explored formative elements of resilience (e.g. Jüttner and Maklan, 2011; Wieland and Wallenburg, 2013; Brandon-Jones et al., 2014; Scholten and Schilder, 2015); and studied SCRes in specific contexts, such as disaster relief (e.g. Day, 2014; Scholten et al., 2014) and the agri-food industry (Leat and Revoredo-Giha, 2013). Despite these contributions, there remains much scope for further work. For example, we know very little about: what constitutes SCRes beyond top-level generic supply chain strategies; how strategies for building SCRes relate to one another; how SCRes can be measured before the unexpected happens; or how SCRes relates to other supply chain concepts that help to improve performance, including supply chain integration, sustainability, agility, flexibility, robustness, and lean. Further, most studies to date have focused on resilience at the organisational level rather than truly at the level of the supply chain. Yet supply chain vulnerability is a network-level phenomenon that needs to be addressed through the study of resilience at the supply chain level. Moreover, the literature has thus far made very limited use of existing theory frames to further our understanding of SCRes. The most notable theory frames used to date are the resource based view (e.g. Ponomarov and Holcomb, 2009; Blackhurst et al. 2011), systems theory (e.g. Erol et al., 2010; Blackhurst et al., 2011), contingency theory (e.g. Brandon-Jones et al., 2014), and complex adaptive systems theory (e.g. Day, 2014). Finally, given the very nature of SCRes, it seems natural to bring insights from other disciplines into Operations Management to better understand SCRes (see, e.g. van der Vegt et al., 2015).
Objective of the Special Issue:
From the above, it follows that SCRes is an important and topical area; and that the Operations Management research community has an important role to play in work that builds SCRes. Significant contributions have been made to the SCRes literature in recent years but there is scope for much further research that not only develops the theory base on SCRes but also empirically develops the field, learns from and delineates SCRes from related strategies and phenomena, and that supports managers in their efforts to handle disruptions that affect the supply chain, whether they originate from within or outside the network.
The objective of this Special Issue is to provide a forum for work that progresses the field of SCRes practically and theoretically. Thus, a strong focus beyond the organisational level is required to explore, explain, develop, and test aspects of SCRes.
The Scope of the Papers:
The special issue seeks both theoretical submissions that serve as a stepping stone for empirical work, and theoretically informed empirical work following the normal standards of IJOPM. Empirical insights may be derived from, for example, survey research, case studies, action research, event studies, interviews, or experiments. These contributions are welcomed in topic areas that include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Shaping and conceptualising the concept of resilience in a supply chain context;
2. Assessing SCRes and evaluating the impact of SCRes on performance;
3. Linking SCRes to other supply chain concepts, such as sustainability, supply chain integration or supply chain flexibility;
4. ‘Deep dive’ studies into the effects of specific disruptions to supply chains, e.g. economic crises or the recent ‘Brexit’, and/or particular strategies for building SCRes, including inter-organisational strategies;
5. Studying SCRes in under-represented contexts, including developing countries and Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), to improve understanding of SCRes, its antecedents, and impact;
6. Cross-disciplinary research, e.g. in relation to marketing, organisational behaviour, finance, knowledge management, economics, etc.
The Review Process:
Papers submitted to the special issue will follow the typical, thorough review process of the journal in terms of the number of reviewers, the double-blind review process, etc. Submissions will be handled by the special issue editors, with recommendations made to the journal’s Editor-in-Chief.
Initial submission deadline 4th September, 2017
First editorial decision 15th December, 2017
Resubmission 1st March, 2018
Final decision 1st June, 2018
Kirstin Scholten, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Mark Stevenson, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Dirk Pieter van Donk, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
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