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Pandemic-induced knowledge gaps in operations and supply chain management: COVID-19’s impacts on retailing

Martin C. Schleper (University of Sussex Business School, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)
Stefan Gold (Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany)
Alexander Trautrims (Operations Management and Information Systems, Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham, UK)
Duncan Baldock (Marks and Spencer, London, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 29 April 2021

Issue publication date: 6 May 2021



This Impact Pathways paper aims to provide a timely and structured discussion of real-world problems at Marks and Spencer and in retail in general, evoked through the current COVID-19 pandemic.


The article presents collaborative research based on more than five hours of interviews and several iterative paper writing steps between management scholars and Marks & Spencer’s Head of Procurement - Logistics and Supply Chain. Continuous discussions for more than ten months among the research team assure the timeliness and relevance of the findings. The exceptional position of the executive and his career biography allowed the integration of a variety of intra-organisational and inter-organisational stakeholders.


This paper highlights the impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic on operations and supply chain management (OSCM) in the retail industry, structured in upstream, internal and operational, and downstream and customer perspectives. The paper concludes with a practice-infused research agenda, which aims to trigger relevant research about the current and potential future crises.

Research limitations/implications

Although the research agenda is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the retail industry, the future research pathways are expected to inform business responses to potential future external shocks other than pandemics and in different industries as well.


Despite a plethora of studies already published on COVID-19 and OSCM, little is known on how the outbreak affects specific firms and industries. This paper offers an overview of COVID-19 related change as it happens at the retailer and in the retailing industry in general. This article is among the first to provide a practice-infused call for research on urgent issues being faced by business leaders directly relevant to our domain.



Funding: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/T501992/1].


Schleper, M.C., Gold, S., Trautrims, A. and Baldock, D. (2021), "Pandemic-induced knowledge gaps in operations and supply chain management: COVID-19’s impacts on retailing", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 193-205.



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