The COVID-19 crisis has caused major supply chain disruptions, and these can be traced back to basic supply chain risks that have previously been well identified in literature. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a pathway for closing the gap between supply chain resilience research and efforts in industry to develop a more resilient supply chain.
Based upon virtual roundtables with supply chain executives, supplemented with interviews and publicly available datapoints about COVID-19 impact on the supply chain, we explore challenges in industry and suggest opportunity areas where research can support efforts in industry to improve supply chain resilience.
During the COVID-19 crisis, participating supply chain executives are experiencing textbook supply, demand and control risks in the supply chain. They also observe a lack of preparedness, shortcomings of current response plans and the need for greater supply chain resilience. Focus areas in improving resilience mirror generic recommendations from literature and provide a rich opportunity to reduce the gap between research findings and efforts in industry.
More empirical, event-based and less conceptual research into supply chain resilience has been called for several times during the last two decades. COVID-19 provides a very rich opportunity for researchers to conduct the type of research that has been called for. This research may contribute to the structurally de-risking of supply chains. Areas of research opportunity include decision models for supply chain design that avoid overfocusing on costs only, and that consider the value of flexibility, short response times and multiple sources as well as methods for enriching supplier segmentation and evaluation models to reduce a focus on savings and payment terms only.
Key levers for de-risking the supply chain include the need to balance global sourcing with nearshore and local sourcing, the adoption of multiple sources and a greater utilization of information technology to drive more complete and immediate information availability. Perhaps most importantly, talent management in supply chain management needs to promote a focus not just on costs, but also on resilience as well as on learning from current events to improve decision-making.
There is a great opportunity for supply chain managers to grow their contribution to society beyond risk response into the proactive reduction of risks for the future. Researchers can serve society by informing this progress with impactful research.
This article offers initial empirical exploration of supply chain risks experienced in the context of COVID-19 and approaches considered in industry to improve supply chain resilience. Opportunities for empirical, event-based and less conceptual research that has been called for years, are identified. This research can help close the gap between supply chain resilience research and efforts in industry to improve supply chain resilience. Hopefully the research opportunities identified can inspire the flurry of research that can be expected in response to the multiple special issues planned by journals in our field.
van Hoek, R. (2020), "Research opportunities for a more resilient post-COVID-19 supply chain – closing the gap between research findings and industry practice", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 341-355. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-03-2020-0165
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