The "New Normal": Rethinking Supply Chains during and after COVID-19 Global Business Environment

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

The “New Normal”: Rethinking Supply Chains During and After COVID-19 Global Business Environment.
Submission deadline: 30th May 2021

Guest Editors
Shams Rahman, Professor of Supply Chain Management, RMIT University, Australia. [email protected] 
Kamrul Ahsan, Senior Lecturer of Supply Chain Management, RMIT University, Australia. [email protected] 
Amrik Sohal, Professor of Management, Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia. [email protected] 
Andreas Wieland, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. [email protected] 
Richard Oloruntoba, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, [email protected] 

The outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented event which has impacted every individual, every nation, every business, and every supply chain on our planet. Future Magazine reported that 94% of the Fortune 1,000 companies have been affected by COVID-19, with both upstream and downstream supply chain partners being disrupted (Fortune 2020). As a result, supply sources were disconnected and production facilities were shutdown (Deloitte 2020), creating shortage at the retail/customer end and surpluses at the supplier/manufacturer end (Donaldson 2020). The potential impact of such a mismatch on the global economy is huge. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic’s global cost could range from US$5.8 trillion to $8.8 trillion, a decline of between 6.4% and 9.7% in the global gross domestic product (GDP) (ADB 2020). At the same time this pandemic has taken away thousands of human life and millions of jobs. ILO (2020) estimated that COVID-19 could cause nearly 200 million full-time job losses globally. Therefore, COVID-19 through its unprecedented disruptive impact on global supply chain has caused unparalleled damage to the global economy, human health, and job market. 

The above scenario demonstrates that many of the recognised supply chain robustness and resilience strategies (Sheffi 2005) and mechanisms have not been sufficiently effective to mitigate fully supply chain risks inflicted by COVID-19. This might be partly because of the dominating conceptualization of resilience in our discipline. In supply chain management, resilience is often defined in terms of speed to get back to normal (e.g., Simchi-Levi et al. 2018). The flaws within the existing supply chain strategies have been exposed to the extent (Norrman and Jansson 2004) that it is time for us to generate “out-of-the box” solutions for the “new normal” global business environment. Many supply chains have responded to this disruption by diversifying their product portfolio, making new products based on existing technology and knowledge. For example, production of personal protective equipment (PPE) by apparel manufacturers, and hand sanitizer by distillers. Others have investigated with technologies such as 3D printing to make products promptly to fulfil specific needs of workers at the pandemic frontline (Forbes 2020; Larrañeta et al. 2020). Similarly, policy-makers have emphasized on buying products from local suppliers (The-Premier-Victoria 2020), bring back the production facilities onshore (Wickware 2020) or sourcing from near shore (SCMP 2020). Post strict lockdowns, companies are forced to close facilities that are no longer viable under social distancing rules, and reduced workforce and demand. Others are scrambling with redesign of work under a globally disconnected supply chain. The question is, are these the alternative solutions? 

The COVID-19 outbreak has put the robustness of supply chain to test. Over the past three decades researchers and practitioners have emphasised on the deployment of strategies such as agile, lean and flexible production systems; omnichannel distribution systems; real-time monitoring systems; coordination and collaboration mechanisms; and visibility systems to enhance supply chain stability and robustness. However, these strategies have not been sufficiently effective to mitigate fully supply chain risks during the pandemic (Natarajarathinam et al. 2009). There is a need to rethink and reimagine new ways of managing global supply chains. Further research is required devising innovative solutions to deal with the COVID-19 type of disruption and in the context of post-COVID 19 “new normal” global business environment. Hence, the focus of this special issue is on developing new knowledge, strategies, and mechanisms for the “new normal” supply chains during and post-COVID-19 environment. Hereby, COVID-19 can also serve as a metaphor for larger crises (e.g., climate crisis, biodiversity crisis). Expected papers will contribute to furthering our knowledge on:

  •   why the existing supply chain theories have failed to deal with the pandemic or other crises and what else needs to be done in the future?
  •   what new strategic decisions are required to be in place at organisational and national level?
  •   how can technology assist or support organisations/supply chains in developing capacities rapidly? and
  •    what preparedness alternative are necessary to mitigate the risks of sourcing, making, distributing, returning the goods and services in time of pandemics?

The special issue will focus on high quality articles to timely address the gaps in the existing supply chain theories and practices and will support developing strategies to mitigate supply chain risks. We expect to deliver timely research that can help policy-makers, practitioners and researchers to handle crises such as COVID-19 and the “new normal” global business context. We believe that expected new knowledge from this special issue will not only help the business community in building the viable “new normal” supply chains but also inform academic institutions in developing new skills and competencies through research and teaching aimed at designing and managing supply chain uncertainty in future disasters and pandemic. We encourage conceptual papers, in-depth case studies (particularly non-positivist), and papers with secondary data analysis, and papers with primary data analysis employing qualitative/quantitative or mixed-method.

From the perspective of rethinking supply chain, several issues can be investigated in this special issue. Some research themes and sub-themes may include but are not limited to: 
•    Capability and capacity building and innovation in logistics and supply chains to adapt to the “new normal” market demand;
•    Rapid development of new products and services or redesign of supply chains when demand is suddenly disrupted by global crisis such as COVID-19;
•    Impacts of reshoring or near-shoring production and supply facilities and considering issues of localisation versus globalisation of supply chains; 
•    Rethinking the role of digital technologies, new organizational structures, decision-making processes and coordination mechanisms in the “new normal” business environment;
•    Implications of the “new normal” on environmental and responsible global supply chains as well as the emergence of different forms of power, supply chain finance and business continuity challenges.
•    Designing innovative collaborative and coordination mechanisms and supply chain network structures for future pandemic-proofed resilient and robust supply chains;
•    Assessment of challenges and exploration of new opportunities in last mile and omni-channel delivery, e.g. contactless delivery, mobile stores, integrated product return services
•    Learnings on supply chain stability, resilience and viability from COVID-19 to address other crises that are on the horizon (e.g., climate, biodiversity, financial, political);
•    Design of logistics and supply chain operations that consider social distancing, home working and different forms of lockdown measures.

All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another journal. Submission to this special issue are through the IJPDLM submission system: To prepare your article, you can follow the author guidelines:
When submitting the manuscript, please ensure you select this special issue name from the relevant dropdown menu from the submission process. For any questions please contact the guest editors.
Submission due date: 30th May 2021
Notification to authors: 15th July 2021
Final version due by: 30th October, 2021


ADB (2020) COVID-19 pandemic's global cost may exceed $4T. Accessed May 25, 2020.
Deloitte (2020) COVID-19: Managing supply chain risk and disruption. Deloitte. Accessed May 3, 2020.
Donaldson, T. (2020) China Sourcing, Shipments Face ‘Severe Disruptions’ Amid Coronavirus Epidemic. Sourcing Journal, February 4, 2020. Accessed February 15, 2020.
Forbes (2020) Meet The ItalianeEngineers 3D-printing respirator parts for free too help keep Coronavirus patients alive. Forbes, Mar 19, 2020. Accessed March 28, 2020.
Fortune (2020) 94% of the Fortune 1000 are seeing coronavirus supply chain disruptions. February 22, 2020, Accessed May 7, 2020.
ILO (2020) COVID-19: impact could cause equivalent of 195 million job losses. The United Nations Website. Accessed May 7 2020.
Larrañeta, E., Dominguez-Robles, J. and Lamprou, D. A. (2020) Additive Manufacturing Can Assist in the Fight Against COVID-19 and Other Pandemics and Impact on the Global Supply Chain. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. DOI: 10.1089/3dp.2020.0106.
Natarajarathinam, M., Glenn Richey, R., Capar, I. and Narayanan, A. (2009) Managing supply chains in times of crisis: a review of literature and insights. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management 39 (7), 535-573.
Norrman, A. and Jansson, U. (2004) Ericsson’s proactive supply chain risk management approach after a serious sub‐supplier accident. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management 34 (5), 434-456.
SCMP (2020) Japan to pay firms to leave China, relocate production elsewhere as part of coronavirus stimulus. South China Morning Post, 9 April 2020. Accessed April 2020
Sheffi, Y. (2005) The resilient enterprise: overcoming vulnerability for competitive advantage. MIT Press Books 1.
Simchi-Levi, D., Wang, H., & Wei, Y. (2018). Increasing supply chain robustness through process flexibility and inventory. Production and Operations Management, 27 (8), 1476-1491.
The-Premier-Victoria (2020) Backing Victorian Industry to Boost Supply of Ventilators, The State Government of Victoria, Australia.
Wickware, C. (2020) Manufacturer to move hydroxychloroquine production to the UK to avoid shortages. The Pharmaceutical Journal, May 5.