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Assessing the managerial relevance of contemporary supply chain management research

Rodney W. Thomas (Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, USA)
C. Clifford Defee (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)
Wesley S. Randall (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)
Brent Williams (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




Discussions about the managerial relevance of scholarly research have been taking place for decades and the topic continues to be a source of debate in a number of business disciplines. The purpose of this paper is to make an initial attempt to empirically assess the relevance of supply chain management research.


Qualitative methods were utilized to provide some initial evidence that can help validate or refute assumptions about perceived relevance in contemporary supply chain management research.


Findings of this research indicate that the most impactful supply chain management issues for managers are internal supply chain organizational structure, communication and information exchange, information technology, forecasting and sales and operations planning, and strategic leadership. Some of these managerial issues appear to be well aligned with recent research trends, but other issues are not frequently researched.

Research limitations/implications

Future research opportunities are identified based on managerial feedback. Results of this study also suggest that a broader view of supply chain management may be appropriate if researchers want to be managerially relevant.

Practical implications

This research potentially highlights opportunities for firms to gain a competitive advantage via their approach to supply chain management.


This research utilizes a unique approach to assess managerially relevant topics through a “magic wand” interviewing technique (i.e. “If we gave you a magic wand and granted you just one wish, what would you wish for to improve your supply chain?”).



Thomas, R.W., Clifford Defee, C., Randall, W.S. and Williams, B. (2011), "Assessing the managerial relevance of contemporary supply chain management research", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 41 No. 7, pp. 655-667.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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