Deepening the Understanding of Agility in Resilience in Global Supply Chains: New Theoretical Perspectives

Call for papers for: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

Deepening the Understanding of Agility and Resilience in Global Supply Chains: New Theoretical Perspectives
Deadline for submission: 31 July 2021

Guest Editors:
Ismail Gölgeci, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark 
[email protected] 
David M. Gligor, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Mississippi, USA
[email protected]

Today’s global business landscape is one where many firms’ chief concern is survival (Birkinshaw, 2020). Global supply chains are increasingly being disrupted by improbable events whose causes are not well understood. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of interconnected and interdependent global supply chains. The massive destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated debates on the usefulness of supply chain agility and resilience concepts among business scholars and practitioners (Birkinshaw, 2020; Rigby, Elk, & Berez, 2020; Silverthorne, 2020). The pandemic has called for different forms of supply chain agility and resilience not only for businesses to thrive but also for the global economy to function (Schatteman, Woodhouse, & Terino, 2020) and communities to survive (Harvey, 2020). This raises a question, whether the way we conceptualize and theorize supply chain agility and resilience since the last two decades (Ali & Gölgeci, 2019; Cho, Jung, & Kim, 1996; Christopher, 2000; Christopher & Peck, 2004; Gligor, Esmark, & Holcomb, 2015; Wieland & Wallenburg, 2013) has helped businesses to survive the growing uncertainties and disruptions. 
Because of the challenges described above, media such as Forbes read by leading CEOs has suggested to “shift our focus from agility to resilience” (Birkinshaw, 2020). Is such an argument valid? Should such a shift occur? Instead, should practitioners continue pursuing both? When CEOs alike turn to us the academic researchers, how would we answer their questions? This would call for a deeper appreciation of the characteristics of agility and resilience. Although recent practitioner articles tend to prefer resilience over agility (Birkinshaw, 2020), agility may also be important for the pandemic given its decisiveness, resoluteness, swiftness, and cognitive adaptability (flexibility) dimensions (Gligor & Holcomb, 2012; Gligor, Holcomb, & Stank, 2013). 
That said, the question of whether present conceptualizations of resilience and agility are suitable for emerging and changing threats brought about during and after the COVID-19 pandemic remains unanswered. As such, a deeper investigation of agility and resilience in global supply chains is needed. Moreover, the next question the CEOs would ask is, “how should firms organize their supply chains (structures, processes, capabilities) to reflect this shift or enable both agility and resilience?” How Could we answer their questions? This raises a question on the way we conceptualize agility and resilience. There is a tendency to define agility and resilience as the abilities to e.g., anticipate, accelerate, adjust, change direction, resist shock, avoid shock, recover and the like (Gligor, Gligor, et al., 2019), or provide a list of activities e.g., interpret events, monitor, collaborate, re-configure, etc. (Ali, Mahfouz, & Arisha, 2017), but the questions of how to interpret emerging risk, how to organize the micro-processes, how to know what and when to change or adjust, and so on, are not answered.  
Despite extensive research, the field still lacks diversity in theoretical perspectives for explaining supply chain agility and resilience. Those who adopted a theoretical lens to examine these concepts relied on repeated use of a limited range of well-trodden grand theories such as resource-based view (Brandon-Jones et al., 2014) and contingency theory (Gligor et al., 2015). The lack of theoretical depth and breadth to deepen the understanding of these two concepts has been noted (Ali & Gölgeci, 2019; Golgeci, Bouguerra, & Rofcanin, 2019). While acknowledging the multidimensionality of these constructs, the field has produced a proliferation of definitions. Further, while such definitions do have some themes in common, many conceptualizations, operationalizations, and definitions vary significantly across studies (see Gligor, Gligor, et al., 2019), thus raising doubt regarding the rigor behind past approaches. Scholars such as Stank et al. (2017) and Gligor, Bozkurt, et al. (2019) have repeatedly highlighted the role of theory in SCM literature and the necessity of theory-driven SCM research. The tendency to name theories to simply check the theory box as an afterthought must stop. To achieve consistency and theoretical advancement, we need to build our own cohesive and rigorous middle range theory (Stank et al., 2017) for supply chain agility and resilience. 
Further, considering that both, agility and resilience have their origins outside the business domain (Gligor, Gligor, et al., 2019), we challenge logistics and supply chain scholars to consider employing theories from domains such as psychology, sociology, sports science, military science, political science, or medicine (Gligor et al., 2013). Such an approach can offer novel theoretical perspectives and help increase our understanding of supply chain agility and resilience. As a bridge between SCM and other domains, middle-range theories help set the concepts of agility and resilience into the supply chain contexts. There has been scant attention on supply chain agility and resilience in the context of global supply chains (Blackhurst, Dunn, & Craighead, 2011; Colicchia, Dallari, & Melacini, 2010; Kim & Chai, 2017). Nonetheless, such research overlooked the specific contexts such as global supply chains, such as institutional, socioeconomic, and geopolitical environments, that make it challenging to create supply chain agility and resilience. Moreover, considering the global aspect of supply chain management (Gligor et al., 2020), literature examining geopolitical phenomena can help shed additional light on how firms can best design and manage their agile and/or resilient supply chains.
Some studies have already started to examine supply chain agility and resilience jointly (see e.g., Cabral, Grilo, & Cruz-Machado, 2012; Gligor, Gligor, et al., 2019; Golgeci, Arslan, et al., 2019; Ismail, Poolton, & Sharifi, 2011 for exceptions). For example, Gligor, Gligor, et al. (2019) examined the complex relationship between the two concepts and found that supply chain agility and resilience share some common dimensions. A recent attempt on combining resilience and agility into the ambidextrous capability of resilient agility (Golgeci, Arslan, et al., 2019) entails further inquiry and empirical testing. These studies can be extended to better answer the question of whether firms should pursue both agility and resilience. Since the two research streams have been relatively fragmented, this special call for efforts to delve deeper into the interplay between them.
In view of the above emerging research challenges, we invite scholars to explore supply chain agility and resilience through new theoretical perspectives or develop new middle-range theories. In particular, we are interested in the use of potentially relevant yet overlooked theories such as paradox theory (Putnam, Fairhurst, & Banghart, 2016; Schad et al., 2016), network theory (Borgatti & Halgin, 2011), social exchange theory (Cropanzano et al., 2017), institutional theory (Dimaggio & Powell, 1983; North, 1991), and psychology/cognitive theories that explain how managers interpret the environment and make swift, effective decisions. Likewise, we invite papers that examine supply chain agility and resilience jointly and delve deeper into the interplay between them in international settings. Thus, we seek new contributions that reinvigorate supply chain agility and resilience research, especially in the context of global supply chains employing potentially relevant yet overlooked theoretical lenses.

Topic areas of interest
With this call, we seek strategically focused, theory-driven, empirical, and conceptual, quantitative, and qualitative research studies in logistics, operations, SCM, and closely related fields. Quantitatively oriented mathematical, simulation-based, and modeling papers are not suitable for this special issue.

Questions of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
•    Are agility and resilience synergetic or corrosive concepts?
•    What are the trade-offs involved in achieving agility and/or resilience in global supply chains?
•    Is resilient agility an empirically viable concept? If yes, what are the underlying forces of resilient agility in global supply chains?
•    When should firms deploy supply chain agility or resilience or both?
•    What are the microfoundations of agility and resilience in global supply chains?
•    How are different capabilities created by the ways in which a firm and supply chain are structured, and processes are used as uncertainties or disruptions arise at different phases?
•    How can different ways of organizing (i.e., structure, process, capability) inform the emergence of agility and resilience in global supply chains?
•    What is the interplay between emergent technologies, organizational structures, and social processes in developing and applying supply chain agility and resilience?
•    What are the paradoxes involved in achieving and maintaining supply chain agility and resilience?
•    How do contagion and convergence in global business networks influence supply chain agility and resilience?
•    What is the role of structural holes in agility and resilience in times of severe global supply chain disruptions? 
•    How can resilience be maintained when firms and supply chains face unprecedented levels of disruptions and adversity?
•    How can firms aggregate their firm-level agility and resilience into greater system-level agility and resilience in global supply chains?
•    Do formal and informal institutions play a role in building agility and resilience in global supply chains?
•    How do firms respond to institutional voids and extractive institutions when developing and deploying their supply chain agility and resilience in foreign markets?
•    Do reciprocity and relational justice in global supply chain relationships play a role in agility and resilience? 
•    How do counterproductive work behaviors and constructive deviance affect supply chain agility and resilience?
•    Do supply chain agility and/or supply chain resilience impact end customer/consumer-related phenomena (e.g., loyalty, satisfaction, value, engagement)?

Review Process
Manuscripts should comply with the scope, standards, format, and editorial policy of the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. All papers must be submitted through the official International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management submission system ( with clear selection indicating that the submission is for this Special Issue. Before submission, authors should carefully read over the Journal’s “Author guidelines”. The submission system will be open on 01 May 2021, and submissions are welcome up to and including 31 July 2021. Papers submitted to the Special Issue will be subjected to the normal thorough double-blind review process.

Deadline for paper submission:    31 July 2021
Notification of first decision:     15 October 2021
Final manuscripts decision:     31 March 2022

All queries about the special issue should be sent to the Guest Editors.

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