Operations

In his position as head of the procurement supply chain at BP, Dave Connor is responsible for managing a worldwide supply chain that operates in an environment of high risk. Recently, Connor was on campus for graduation, where the latest class of BP managers would receive the W. P. Carey MBA with a special emphasis on supply chain management. KnowSCM sat in on a conversation between Connor and Professor Dan Brooks as the two discussed the development of the supply chain discipline, managing risk in a supplier network, and how best to prepare for a career in this challenging field.

That two of the top journals in the supply chain management field are edited at the W. P. Carey School is testament to the research muscle of the faculty, but editors Thomas Choi and Craig Carter are not alone in leadership roles. In total, supply chain management faculty members hold 19 senior or associate editor positions at respected journals. This leadership lends rich benefits to the university, to students and to industry.

Across virtually all industries and geographic regions, manufacturers share one common goal: to increase profitability by decreasing costs. A growing number of manufacturers, both in the United States and around the world, have embraced global sourcing as a fast-track method for achieving that goal. However, when it comes to the effectiveness of most companies' global sourcing initiatives, there is plenty of room for improvement, finds a new study from Professor Robert Monczka of CAPS Research, a nonprofit supply chain research organization jointly sponsored by the Institute for Supply Management and the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Good projects frequently fail — even when experienced managers are at the helm. In fact, the average project today will change the very nature of its organization in the process of fulfilling its objective, according to Dwight Smith-Daniels, a former professor of supply chain management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. With globalization, many projects now involve entities outside the company, outside the country. And projects are presenting unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Often it's difficult at the outset to define the desired outcomes, or the necessary resources and skills needed. The solution is a new approach to project management that builds in the adaptability business conditions now require.

In April 2004, Wal-Mart announced a pilot program that would require its top 100 suppliers to be RFID compliant — attaching Radio Frequency Identification tags on cases and pallets destined for Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area — by January 2005. Showing just how much clout Wal-Mart has, the retailer is boasting 100% compliance. So, is RFID here to stay? Can suppliers benefit from it? How worried should consumers be about invasion-of-privacy issues? A recent Wharton Emerging Technologies conference looked at these issues.