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Supply Chain and Information Management


Hurricane Harvey and the challenge of orchestrating community resilience

Martin Dias

Martin Dias

Network “orchestrators” have been learning several lessons from the current Hurricane Harvey community resilience efforts as they lead through this crisis event and beyond, but none more than Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. In the following post, D’Amore-McKim School of Business Associate Teaching Professor Martin Dias discusses the leadership and logistical challenges the Mayor has faced and the lessons learned.

The orchestrator

Turner has a lot going for him. He has a great education, which includes a degree from Harvard Law. He has had tremendous influence in society resulting from his current position and other state-level political office experience. He works in one of the country’s largest urban areas, and he leads an organization that has a history of resilience and a culture of reciprocity. He even enjoys an enviable social media following for someone approaching retirement age.

Yet, Turner currently faces major challenges with both historical and future significance. He leads an organization at a time of catastrophe and has to deal with social-media-amplified rumor mills disrupting his ability to orchestrate a network of internal and external resources. He must address the concerns of his “customer” base, which include both loss of life and property.

Since he has officially declared Houston again “open for business” in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, now is a good time to reflect on lessons learned from response and recovery efforts. In what ways was Mayor Turner’s approach to galvanizing rescue and relief efforts a useful model for leaders attempting to build community resilience in their locales? What key resilience takeaways can other leaders gain from Houston’s tragic loss?

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What a Trump Presidency Could Mean for Global Supply Chains


Robert Murray

In the following post, D’Amore-McKim School of Business Executive Professor of Supply Chain Management Robert Murray explores the potential impacts that the Trump presidency could have on the supply chain industry.

There has been much speculation about the effects that a Trump presidency could have on U.S. economic growth and global supply chains. While we do not know what the future holds, I believe it could go in very different directions depending on whether actions taken mirror the campaign trail or shift toward pragmatism once President-elect Trump takes office.

Campaign activity suggests there may be a push for congressional approval of a 45% tariff on Chinese-made goods, a 35% tariff on Mexican-made goods, as well as the disassembly of NAFTA. These acts could invite retaliation and overall trade could decline—a lot. This type of trade war—even if contained to U.S.-China and U.S.-Mexico—would bring extreme changes around the world and an immediate increase in U.S. consumer inflation.

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Why the Pollsters Were So Wrong

Nada Sanders

Nada Sanders

In the following post, D’Amore-McKim School of Business Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management Nada Sanders, an expert in business forecasting and risk management, explains the importance of human judgment in the forecasting process and how it impacted the 2016 presidential election polls.

The pollsters, pundits, and churning of complex algorithms completely missed the forecast of the presidential election. While they are surprised, I am not. As an expert on forecasting, I knew from the beginning where the problem was.

What happened? Blind reliance on algorithms.

Analytical forecasts are based on a “system” of historical data and relationships between variables. They assume these relationships will continue into the future. However, if there is a shift in the “system,” these relationships and data points become invalid. This is true of every forecast – from corporate forecasting of markets to climate change to the election. It is up to experts to recognize when such a shift occurs and reassess the algorithm. This did not happen. Read more…


Strategies for our Internet-connected lives


Martin Dias

In the following post, D’Amore-McKim School of Business Assistant Professor Martin Dias discusses the ways human-augmented technology can impact our personal and professional productivity and offers solutions to its pitfalls.

Internet-connected devices definitely provide the opportunity to improve personal and professional productivity in terms of reducing search costs, increasing bargaining power, and increasing your ability to collaborate without having to co-locate. That said, it is important to be mindful of potential pitfalls to avoid.

You can think of using Internet-connected devices as a trilemma of double-edged swords:

1) Transition costs: These devices reduce the costs of physically transitioning from one location to another (working virtually) and raise your confidence that, because your device is cloud-connected, you are not losing what you were working on somewhere else. That reduction in transition cost reduces the load on your mind. On the flip side, we are often fooled into thinking we can multi-task (our brains are not really designed for multi-tasking), so by transitioning rapidly from one task to another you risk paying high mental switching costs… producing the twin pains of reducing productivity and reducing work quality.

Example: Toggling between typing an email to your client and texting a response to your friend. You are not multi-tasking; you are toggling, possibly quite rapidly, but toggling just the same. In addition, there is ramp up and ramp down time your brain needs to transition. When you think to yourself, “Okay, wait, what was I saying?” This is part of the switching cost you will pay. If you also mistakenly include something in the email that was meant for the text, then go ahead and polish up that resume for a different type of transition.

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