The impact of COVID-19 on supply chain

| Michaela Nesvarova

Three UT students of Industrial Engineering and Management wrote a paper about the impact of COVID-19 on supply chain resilience – and last week their work got published in Logistics. ‘It feels very special, because not many Master students publish in a scientific journal.’

Master students Mirthe Zwanenburg, Jethro Kiers and Jaap Seinhorst wrote the paper within the course Purchasing Management. Their work - titled ‘Which Strategies and Corresponding Competences Are Needed to Improve Supply Chain Resilience: A COVID-19 Based Review’ – was published in the journal Logistics last week.

What does it mean for you to have your paper published in a journal?

Kiers: ‘It feels very special, because not many Master students publish in a scientific journal. It’s definitely nice to have the experience of publishing a paper. It’s good to see how much work it takes to get from the first version to the actual publication.’

Seinhorst: ‘Definitely. It’s also a nice thing to put on your CV. I don’t know what the future will bring, but having this experience can help you in first steps in academia.’

What was the main idea behind the paper?

Kiers: ‘Covid-19 entirely disrupted supply chains, which is why we focused on the effect of the pandemic from the start. We found out that supply chains generally focus on cost efficiency, not resilience, and so we looked for ways to improve resilience.’

Can you summarize your main conclusions?

Kiers: ‘There is a very large reliability on China. Many companies rely on China and other Asian countries which produce a lot and for low prices. Supply chains could therefore be more localized. We’d also suggest dual sourcing – purchasing products from multiple suppliers, and decreasing the risk even further. These are some of the strategic changes we describe in the paper.’

Zwanenburg: ‘On top of that, we focused on skills and competences necessary for professionals. We created a whole framework for purchasing supply managers. The most important skills would be better supplier relationship management and also IT skills, such as automation.’

How do you hope your paper will be used?

Zwanenburg: ‘I hope companies get inspired by the paper in order to better cope with disruptions in the future. I also hope it inspires other academics to further explore the connections in supply chains.’

What have you taken from this whole experience?

Zwanenburg: ‘I’d like to work in purchasing management and I found this topic really useful. Now I know what skills are important in this field. Plus, it was great to see what the process of publishing a paper is like.’

Kiers: ‘I’ll definitely remember how important it is to focus on risk management and not just reducing costs.’

Seinhorst: ‘Absolutely, all the conclusions we came up with will stay with me. Most of all, it was a really interesting process. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. So I’d recommend to everyone: if you get the opportunity, take it.’

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