The purpose of this paper is to investigate strategies to manage product recalls where shortages are a critical threat, with impacts such as loss of life. The authors aim to identify key supply chain strategies and opportunities for theoretical advancement by taking a resilience perspective on temporary supply chain design.
First, the authors conducted an impact event analysis of product recalls by exploring the RAPEX database and official statements of individual country regulators. Second, the authors conducted an exploratory case study with the Cambridge University Hospitals on Personal Protective Equipment to explore product recall risks, utilising an action research methodology.
Additional processes, mainly testing, can compensate for the risks that may arise from temporary supply chains, where changes in location and product design are not possible due to the immediate nature of demand caused by COVID-19 pandemic. This finding reflects on the resilience of designing and implementing temporary supply chains from the perspective of product, process and location.
This paper does not employ an in-depth multiple case study methodology. However, the authors argue that the role of institutional actors in global supply chains and its implications on product safety needs to be empirically studied in order to expand existing supply chain management theories to cover resilience in emerging, mature and temporary supply chain.
Managers can learn from the Cambridge University Hospitals case study that a downstream quality inspection system can be deployed to manage product quality and safety risks where recalls are not an option, such as during critical situations in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The authors’ observations suggest that governments may be socially responsible for implementing rigorous mechanisms to manage product recall risks that compromise consumer safety.
The authors’ study is uniquely designed and studies various specific phenomena of product recalls risks in COVID-19. The unique design features include a dynamic and recent database analysis involving a product, process and location centric perspective complemented with a Cambridge University Hospitals case study.
Research for this paper was supported by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Valuechain Enterprises Ltd. and the Industrial Resilience Research Group, University of Cambridge.
Schumacher, R., Glew, R., Tsolakis, N. and Kumar, M. (2021), "Strategies to manage product recalls in the COVID-19 pandemic: an exploratory case study of PPE supply chains", Continuity & Resilience Review, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 64-78. https://doi.org/10.1108/CRR-07-2020-0024
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