Creative Disruption?
Innovations in Supply Chain Management

Thursday, May 11, 2023
Vance Hall | The Wharton School, Philadelphia
Organized by John Paul Macduffie and Joe Nebistinsky

Over the last three years, global supply chains experienced severe disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the West’s tensions with China. Businesses undertook extraordinary short-term measures to maintain necessary levels of production but high inflation and unprecedented fluctuations in commodity prices significantly undermined such efforts. Resulting supply chain shocks, shortages, and volatility have challenged the widespread practice of optimizing efficiency over preparing for crises (natural and human-made) and led to energized calls for prioritizing resilience over efficiency. 

The conference will take a thorough look at the current state of global supply chains by engaging academics and practitioners into in-depth discussions around the following questions: How have global supply chains been evolving since the start of the pandemic? What has been happening to just-in-time delivery, long-term buyer-supplier relationships, and global sourcing, the most significant innovations in supply chain management of the 20th century? Since high uncertainty is conducive to innovation, have new supply chain models been emerging? How are digital and other technologies shaping supply chain innovations? 

The Mack Institute is uniquely positioned to explore such questions. Wharton faculty have been conducting cutting-edge research on supply chain management and are available to share their insights. The Institute hosts the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) whose international network of researchers helped teach the world in the 1980s-90s about Toyota’s just-in-time production system and long-term relationships with a small number of suppliers as an optimal supply chain model. Finally, three of our corporate partners represent India that is emerging as a dominant actor in the ongoing reconfiguration of global supply chains. 

Building on these strengths, we will organize the conference as a dialogue between academics and practitioners around three major themes: The Efficiency – Resilience Tradeoff in Supply Chain Management; Forecasting, Repairing, and Preventing Supply Chain Disruptions; Supply Chain Alternatives. Thematic sessions will feature presentations by Wharton faculty and our corporate partners who will also lead a follow-up discussion.