Supply Chain and Technology Innovation during COVID-19 Outbreak

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

Supply Chain and Technology Innovation during COVID-19 Outbreak

Since the last couple of months, the fast spread of the novel COV-SARS-2 disease, commonly known as COVID-19, is creating huge uncertainty and undefinable disruptions in the global supply chain. According to WHO (2020), the global supply chain is experiencing a big challenge to keep smooth supplies of food and medical instruments including masks and medicine highly required to the treatment, protection, and control of the pandemic. On another note, the pandemic control measures taken by countries worldwide have interrupted flows of finished goods and raw materials from Chinese plants to many parts of the world and later from other countries to China and other destinations. For instance, Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, is an automobile factory hub with global brands such as General Motors, Hyundai, and Toyota (Yu & Aviso, 2020). Aside from these car manufacturing plants, multinational companies such as Apple, Alphabet, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Proctor and Gamble have closed production facilities, offices, and restaurants across China. The blockage of people and material movement disrupted every supply chain. It is a huge challenge to keep global supply chains of essential goods going while some parts of the supply chain have stopped operations. On the other hand, the wide and rapid spread of the virus in European and American continents has blocked the movement of materials globally. The resulting SC disruptions have caused shortages of medical and food supplies in different part of the world. 

Given the novelty of COVID-19 outbreak, there is a need to revisit previous literature on humanitarian supply chains and logistics management, demand forecasting and order planning (Laan et al., 2016), disaster relief management (Gupta et al. 2016), risk management and resiliency practices in SC operations (Wieland & Wallenburg 2013, Hohenstein et al. 2015) and better understand logistics operations for epidemic control (Hobbs, 2020; Dasaklis et al. 2012). Affecting by evolving lockdown rules, the demands of certain products have increased dramatically, and the demand patterns for many consumer goods have become more challenging to predict. To overcome these challenges, several firms are working closely with governmental bodies, health-care organizations, hospitals, and their business stakeholders to fight the pandemic. The use of contact tracing mobile technologies and digital health certificates become important tools for controlling the spread of the virus. 

In responding to unprecedented disruptions, firms in retailing, e-commerce, technology, logistics, food service, health care, and manufacturing industries also play very critical roles (Hobbs, 2020). During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are observing rapid innovations in business models and the use of technologies. For instance, L’Oréal and Coty and others have stepped up and repurposed production facilities intended for fragrances and hair gels to produce hand sanitizer. In addition to providing a valuable resource that may help save lives, this move helps keep workers on and facilities operating despite difficult economic conditions. Moreover, companies with limited experience are making hospital beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE). Supported by mobile applications, many new logistics services are created to deliver test samples, PPE, medicines and food supplies, and the emergence of ‘contactless’ delivery solutions. 

With the closures of shopping malls and high streets, many companies realized they have to change the moves from multi-channel to omni-channel distributions (Wollenburg et al. 2018; Hübner et al. 2016; Melacini et al. 2018) to a completely digital and online trading environment by adopting digital technologies and cooperating with in logistics service providers to offer home deliveries. Even automotive companies are embracing more online shopping activities to deal with historically low foot traffic and extensive closure of many showrooms completely by trying to meet car buyer needs virtually. In addition, one company resolved a shortage of parts for life-saving ventilators in Italy by using 3D printing and making them available within a day (though they are being sued for their efforts). This trigger the creation of a role for additive manufacturing in the spare parts supply chain. 

Changes in business models and the use of innovative practices and technologies also lead to changes in existing supply chain structures and relationships. In addition to the ‘digitalization’ of relationships, the value of relational competence (Wieland & Wallenburg 2013) is challenged by emerging threats caused by financial crisis facing many suppliers and buyers. While evidence show slowing down in economy can lead to a significant decrease in pollution, it is unsure how emerging financial crisis and deep recession could disrupt the ongoing efforts in achieving triple bottom lines through green supply chain management (Khan & Dong, 2017; Wong et al., 2018).    

This SI will mainly emphasize on analyzing how and why new practices and innovation in SCM and logistics are deployed during the pandemic. It will try to understand the critical success factors (CSFs) and lessons from these innovative practices. The purpose is to capture in-depth insights and understanding of how the adoption of technological advancement (e.g., Industry 4.0 technologies, Mobile Technologies, Big Data Analytics, Additive Manufacturing etc.), business model innovations (e.g., ambidexterity, agility, adaptation, improvisation, etc.), and innovations in collaboration mechanisms and methods of operations improvement/optimization helps companies enhance responsiveness, resilience, and restoration (3Rs) in supply chains (Hohenstein et al. 2015). We also would like to investigate how COVID-19 will impact global supply chain network design and the positioning of key players from different countries after the pandemic.

Following are the topics but not limited to:

  •     New practices in managing emerging supply chains risks and vulnerabilities during COVID-19 pandemic considering ongoing tensions in manufacturing and service trade development worldwide.
  •     How innovative practices and solutions for supply chain resilience are created during COVID-19 pandemic.
  •     Application and impact of new technologies in the supply chain resilience during COVID-19 pandemic.
  •     Innovative practices and advanced technologies application to balance the triple bottom line and 3Rs (Responsiveness, Resilience, and Restoration) during COVID-19 outbreak.
  •     Strategies and risk management practices to deal with the sporadic and unpredicted disruptions caused by COVID-19
  •     Innovative metrics to assess supply-chains vulnerability and to manage buyer-supplier relationships during COVID-19 pandemic and risk mitigation scenarios.
  •    Perspectives for the post-COVID-19 supply chain management and strategies to mitigate the long-term effects

The special issue welcome strategically focused, theoretically grounded, empirical, and conceptual, quantitative, and qualitative original research studies in logistics, physical distribution, purchasing, operations and supply chain management, and associated strategic issues. Quantitatively oriented mathematical and modelling research papers are not suitable for the special issue.

Manuscripts to be submitted via the ScholarOne Manuscript submission portal and authors are encouraged to read the author guidelines, found here

Submission due by:          December 31, 2020
Notification to authors:       February 28, 2021
Final version due by:         May 31, 2021

Guest Editors
Dr Syed Abdul Rehman Khan
School of Supply Chain Management
Tsinghua University
Beijing, P.R. China
[email protected]
[email protected]

Dr Charbel Jose Chiappetta Jabbour
Lincoln International Business School
University of Lincoln
Lincoln, United Kingdom
[email protected]

Dr Abbas Mardani
School of Management
University of South Florida
Tampa, United States
[email protected]

Dr Chee-Yew Wong  
Business School
University of Leeds
Leeds LS6 1AN, United Kingdom
[email protected]

Hobbs, J.E. (2020) Food supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics,
Hohenstein, N-O., Feisel, E., Hartmann, E., Giunipero, L., 2015. Research on the phenomenon of supply chain resilience A systematic review and paths for further investigation, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 45(1/2), 90 - 117
Hübner, A., Wollenburg, J., Holzapfel, A., 2016. Retail logistics in the transition from multi-channel to omni-channel, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 46(6/7), 562 - 583
Khan SAR., Dong Q., 2017. Impact of green supply chain management practices on firms’ performance: an empirical study from the perspective of Pakistan, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24, 16829–16844.
Laan E., Dalen J., Rohrmoser M., Simpson R., 2016. Demand forecasting and order planning for humanitarian logistics: An empirical assessment, Journal of Operations Management, 45(1), 114-122.
Melacini, M., Perotti, S., Rasini, M., Tappia, E., 2018. E-fulfilment and distribution in omni-channel retailing: a systematic literature review, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 48(4), 391-414
The World Health Organization (WHO). Situation report - 18. Feb 7 2020. [EB/OL]
Wieland, A., Wallenburg, C.M., 2013. The influence of relational competencies on supply chain resilience: a relational view, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 43(4), 300-320,
Dasaklis TK., Costas PP., Nikolaos PR., 2012. Epidemics control and logistics operations: A review, International Journal of Production Economics, 139: 393-410.
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Wollenburg, J., Hübner, A., Kuhn, H., Trautrims, A., 2018. From bricks-and-mortar to bricks-and-clicks: Logistics networks in omni-channel grocery retailing, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management,
Wong CWY, Wong CY, Boon-itt S. 2018. How does sustainable development of supply chains make firms lean, green and profitable? A resource orchestration perspective. Business Strategy and the Environment. 27(3): 375-388.
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