Dr. Saban Adana, Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management, Boler College of Business


I attended the Northeast Decision Sciences Institute 2021 conference and delivered a presentation titled “Managing Complexity for Enhanced Supply Chain Resilience in Post-COVID Era.”

Today’s dynamic, global, and intricate supply chains operate in a highly complex and uncertain environment. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of supply chain management to the everyday consumer.

One of the lessons learned from the pandemic is making supply chains more resilient against disruptions, whether man-made reasons like cyber attack or nature-made like the pandemic, but this study specifically looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global and domestic supply chains. Complexity is also demonstrating itself more and more in today’s supply chains with increasing number of suppliers, number of products and number of relationships to manage on a daily basis. For example, Boeing has to manage 13,000 suppliers to have a successful 787 to come to life. These topics make their way into the material for the undergraduate classes that I teach on the topics of global supply chain, inventory management, sourcing and risk management topics. I believe a good understanding of these will be a critical skill set in the post covid world. One of the things that I often highlight in supply chains is understanding of the full network by mapping, not just the first tier but all the tiers. This ties nicely with the complexity and risk management discussions.

The guidance for the practitioners from our study are important as the impact of disruptions are dramatic financially and reputationally. Therefore, strategies such as decentralized decision making, mapping the supply chain network, flexible workforce, supplier collaboration, utilization of big data and integration can be useful in dealing with complexity and disruptions. These strategies cover a wide range of areas such as social capital, processes, infrastructure, relationships, and address business processes across all dimensions of complexity acknowledging that supply chains are social systems as well as mechanical ones.