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  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Sustainable Business Growth : How May Decision-Making Guide The Transition Journey ?
    During periods of intense growth, bankruptcy is an imminent threat to the success of companies. Continuous adaptation of internal capacity, processes and operations is a challenging task that not all companies achieve successfully. Many small or medium-sized enterprises (SME) disappear as fast as they grow and managers often feel frustrated about practical recommendations towards growth; this is mainly due to the significant number of decisions that managers have to make on a regular basis when the company grows. Finding a way to reduce the risk of bankruptcy during intense periods of growth is therefore a great need. Sustainable business growth is a company’s appropriate pace of growth that increases its economic, social and environmental capital—or at least one of these—without decreasing any capital stock. The objective of this research is to provide solutions to growing firms’ managers in order to guide the transition journey of their SMEs towards sustainable business growth. This research specifically investigates what type of decisions managers have to make during growth, what impact these decisions have on the growth trajectory of the firm and how the risk of bankruptcy can be measured during growth. The thesis is segmented in three research studies– each of them building upon the previous one. First, the author proposes a classification framework of the main types of decisions to be considered by growing firms; by conducting a case study with several embedded units of analysis, the author zooms into specific decisions and identifies three main patterns (a series of steps that have to be followed by the decision-maker) of decisions and represents them visually. Second, the author conducts a longitudinal case study in a Swiss family-owned SME wood construction company that has experienced a process of intense growth between 2010 and 2015; in total 492 decisions made during this period have been collected and analysed so as to investigate their impact on the growth trajectory of the company. Results show that growing SMEs can take advantage of their growth to improve their performance by being more efficient, by fully considering social aspects and by integrating stakeholders more comprehensively. Third, the author builds a multi-method simulation model with the objective to represent a company’s operations evolution during growth as well as the decision-making process inherent to business growth. The model combines two major techniques, namely system dynamics (SD) and agent-based (AB) modelling. Calibration allows fitting the model behaviour to reality based on the empirical longitudinal case study data, thus enhancing its validity. Simulation output indicates that only 21,10% of the runs launched allow the company to maintain solvency; growing firms go bankrupt in 79,90% of the cases. Sensitivity analyses help with identifying that the efficiency of the decision-making process highly influences the risk of bankruptcy; several key performance indicators (KPIs) also influence the growth trajectory such as the credit limit allowed by the bank, the rapidity at which clients pay their invoices and the proportion between temporary and permanent employees applied by the firm. An ideal combination of parameters’ values increases the probability to sustainable growth to 69% - compared to only 21% in the initial situation. Even if it seems as though luck is an important factor to experiencing sustainable growth, specific and tangible advice is provided to SME managers as well as to their financial partners, which can positively affect the growth trajectories of their firms. This thesis confirms that decisions made during growth periods have a strong impact on positively influencing the trajectory of growing SMEs and that this impact can be quantified. It allows measuring the probability of sustainable business growth and gives specific answers on how to increase it.
  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Three essays on organizational learning in regard to the development of corporate social responsibility
    (2016)
    Fortis, Zeynep
    ;
    Frooman, Jeff
    ;
    ;
    Au cours de ces quelques décennies, les entreprises ont été amenées à respecter et à répondre aux préoccupations environnementales et sociétales de nombreuses parties prenantes. Dans ce contexte, la responsabilité sociétale des entreprises (RSE) est devenue un concept de management incontournable que les entreprises ont dû développer et intégrer dans leurs opérations et stratégies. Toutefois, le développement et la mise en œuvre de la RSE dans les opérations des entreprises restent difficiles, car celle-ci demande de repenser leur différents processus et stratégies, et par conséquent de revoir leur cœur de métier. Pour parvenir à ce niveau de changement, un apprentissage substantiel en termes de RSE est inévitable.
    Le rôle crucial de l’apprentissage organisationnel dans le développement et la mise en œuvre des actions et politiques liées à la RSE a fait l’objet d’un grand nombre de recherches académiques. Toutefois, ces études étaient souvent fragmentaires et incomplètes. Par conséquent, un important travail de recherche devrait être encore mené afin de donner une vision complète des liens entre l’apprentissage organisationnel et le développement de la RSE.
    Cette thèse de doctorat a pour objectif de répondre à ce défi et d’offrir une vision approfondie des processus d’apprentissage organisationnel qui contribuent au développement de la RSE et soutiennent sa mise en œuvre. De plus, elle offre un aperçu de la manière de développer des partenariats intersectoriels (cross-sector social partnership) efficaces permettant aux entreprises de mieux apprendre à développer la RSE. Plus particulièrement, elle cherche à répondre à trois questions de recherche: (1) Comment l’apprentissage organisationnel et ses processus contribuent-ils à favoriser le développement de la RSE? (2) Comment l’entreprise et ses membres expérimentent et s’engagent dans les processus liés à l’apprentissage qui soutiennent la mise en œuvre de la RSE? Comment les entreprises peuvent-elles maximiser leur potentiel d’aptitude au partenariat pour mener avec succès le développement de la RSE en leur sein?
    Cette thèse comprend trois essais et chacun est développé de manière à répondre à une des questions de recherche mentionnées ci-dessus. Par ailleurs, chaque essai a été conçu comme un rapport distinct pouvant se lire indépendamment des deux autres.
    Dans le premier essai, je revois de manière critique la littérature existante pour conceptualiser la façon dont la recherche à ce jour a abordé le développement de la RSE en matière d’apprentissage organisationnel. Je fournis ainsi un cadre conceptuel pour caractériser le rôle de l’apprentissage organisationnel dans le développement de la RSE, qui est conçu autour de quatre processus d’apprentissage organisationnel et de trois relations d’apprentissage RSE. En ce qui concerne les relations, nous observons que l’apprentissage peut se produire exclusivement au sein de l’entreprise (c.-à-d. sans les autres) mais aussi par des autres, et avec les autres. Les quatre processus d’apprentissage organisationnel comprennent l’acquisition de la connaissance, sa distribution, son interprétation et son maintien dans la mémoire de l’entreprise. La revue de littérature aide à structurer la littérature à l’intersection de l’apprentissage organisationnel et de la RSE. Des pistes de recherches futures destinées à approfondir notre compréhension des enjeux et processus en lien avec l’apprentissage au sein de la RSE sont proposées.
    Le corpus des modèles existants du point de vue des praticiens sur le développement de la RSE omet en partie d’aborder la manière dont les entreprises apprennent à développer la RSE ainsi que de fournir une compréhension du rôle central des processus d’apprentissage dans la construction des initiatives et politiques liées à la RSE. Dans ce second essai, en examinant le développement de la RSE dans quatre multinationales actives dans l’industrie pharmaceutique et chimique, un modèle plus complet est présenté. Extrapolant les données récoltées durant des entretiens approfondis, l’objectif de ce modèle est de rendre compte de la manière dont les entreprises apprennent à développer la RSE et à l’incorporer au sein de leurs stratégies et de leurs activités. Tout d’abord, un ensemble relié de quatre processus de mise en œuvre de la RSE est identifié grâce aux entretiens: « RSE intellection », « RSE edification », « RSE effectuation » et « RSE exploration ». Ce résultat fournit ensuite la base sur lequel un modèle bidimensionnel conceptualisant un cycle d’apprentissage continu pour la mise en œuvre de la RSE est construit. Le modèle bidimensionnel comprend les quatre dimensions susmentionnées qui s’engrènent avec quatre processus entremêlés d’apprentissage: expérimenter activement la RSE (actively experiencing CSR), observer de façon réfléchie (reflectively observing CSR), obtenir de nouvelles connaissances en matière de RSE (gaining new CSR knowledge), et organiser la connaissance existante en matière de RSE (organizing extant CSR knowledge) – complété par une cinquième dimension d’apprentissage transversale, le stockage de la connaissance en matière de RSE (storing CSR knowledge). En résumé, cette étude établit empiriquement la façon dont la mise en œuvre de la RSE et les processus d’apprentissage organisationnel s’imbriquent et conceptualise cette interconnexion à travers un modèle.
    Selon beaucoup de spécialistes, les entreprises et leurs membres peuvent développer de manière plus efficace leur RSE en s’engageant activement dans des partenariats intersectoriels avec des parties prenantes. Néanmoins, des études empiriques ont trouvé que les partenariats intersectoriels, en particulier dans le contexte de partenariats entre une organisation à but lucratif et une autre à but non lucratif atteignent seulement des résultats minimaux. Les chercheurs ont lutté pour comprendre les défis entravant leur développement efficace avec un succès mitigé. Par conséquent, dans mon dernier essai, j’introduis un concept tiré des sciences politiques, connu comme étant la notion d’altérité existentielle (existential otherness). Je propose qu’un sentiment d’altérité existentielle peut envahir les partenariats intersectoriels. En d’autres termes, les partenariats sont minés par un sentiment de malaise au point qu’on ne trouve rien de familier dans l’autre personne, que dans son essence, l’autre est un étranger et devrait le rester car d’un point de vue fondamental, les parties ne possèdent rien de significatif en commun. Un tel sentiment désagréable pourrait expliquer – outre les défis identifiés précédemment – pourquoi la collaboration vacille et la difficulté de construire des partenariats intersectoriels réussis. Ensuite, nous avançons et argumentons que pour que les partenaires surmontent ce sentiment d’altérité, une importance particulière devrait être donnée aux interactions informelles (casual interactions, par ex. jouer au poker, au tennis ou encore faire des grillades ensemble), le but étant de construire des liens sociaux solides sans parler des affaires. Les interactions informelles peuvent être cruciales pour vaincre le sens d’altérité, favorisant ainsi les partenariats intersectoriels et renforçant ainsi à leur tour l’apprentissage et le développement de la RSE pour l’entreprise., Over the last few decades, companies have been increasingly expected to respect and respond to a variety of stakeholder concerns regarding environmental and social issues. In this context, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an indispensable management concept that companies have had to develop and integrate into their operations and strategies. Nevertheless, the development and implementation of CSR within the operations of firms remains difficult as CSR requires firms to rethink their varied processes, strategies, and indeed even their core business. To achieve this level of change, substantial CSR-related learning is inescapable.
    The crucial role of organizational learning (OL) in the development and implementation of CSR-related actions and policies has been the subject of numerous academic studies, notwithstanding those studies were often fragmentary and incomplete. Thus, much work still needs to be done to form a more complete picture of how OL and CSR development are related.
    This dissertation aims to respond to this challenge and offers insight into the processes of organization learning that contribute to CSR development and support CSR implementation. In addition, it offers insight into how to develop effective cross-sector social partnerships that can better enable companies learn how to develop CSR. Specifically, it seeks to answer three research questions: (1) How does organizational learning and its processes contribute to fostering CSR development? (2) How do companies and their members experience and engage in learning-related processes that support CSR implementation? (3) How can organizations maximize their partnership-fit potential to successfully unfold CSR development within their organizations?
    This dissertation contains three essays with each essay developed to answer one of the above mentioned research questions. Furthermore, each essay has been designed as a standalone composition that can be read independently of the other two. In the first essay, I critically review existing literature to conceptualize how research to date has approached CSR development in terms of OL. I provide a framework for characterizing the role of OL in CSR development that is configured around four OL processes and three CSR learning relationships. In regard to relationships, we observe that learning can occur exclusively within the organization (i.e., without others), but also from others, and with others. The four OL processes include the acquisition of knowledge, its distribution, its interpretation and its retention within the memory of the firm. The literature review helps to structure the literature at the intersection of organizational learning and CSR. Avenues for future research aimed at furthering our understanding of key learning-related issues and processes at play in CSR development are provided.
    The existing body of practitioner-oriented models on CSR development still partly fails to address the way companies actually learn to develop CSR and provide understanding of the central role of learning processes in the building of CSR-related policies and initiatives. In the second essay, then, by investigating CSR development in four multinational companies active in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, a more comprehensive model is proposed.
    Generalizing from data garnered during lengthy interviews, the model’s purpose is to give an account of the way organizations are learning to develop CSR and assimilate it into their strategies and operations. First, a connected set of four processes of CSR implementation are identified from the subject interviews: CSR intellection, CSR edification, CSR effectuation, and CSR exploration. This finding then provides the basis on which a bi-dimensional model conceptualizing a continuous learning cycle for CSR implementation is built. The bi- dimensional model encompasses the above four dimensions meshed with four interlocked learning-related processes--actively experiencing CSR, reflectively observing CSR, gaining new CSR knowledge, and organizing extant CSR knowledge--complemented with a fifth transversal learning dimension, storing CSR knowledge. In sum, this study empirically establishes how CSR implementation with OL processes interlock, and conceptualizes this interconnection through a model.
    According to many scholars, organizations and their members can more effectively develop CSR when actively engaged in cross-sector partnerships with stakeholders. However, empirical investigations have found that some cross-sector social partnerships (CSSPs), particularly for-profit/non-profit partnerships, typically attain only minimum outcomes. Scholars have struggled to understand the challenges impeding their effective development with limited success. Therefore, in my final essay I introduce from political science a concept known as “existential otherness”. I propose that a sense of existential otherness may pervade CSSPs. In other words, the partnership is subverted by an uncomfortable sense that one can find nothing familiar in the other person, that at their essence the other is a stranger and must remain so, because at some fundamental level one holds nothing of significance in common with them. Such a disagreeable feeling would explain--in addition to already identified challenges—why collaboration falters and successful CSSPs are so difficult to build. We then argue that for partners to overcome the sense of otherness, emphasis should be given to casual interactions (e.g., playing poker, playing tennis, or barbecuing together) with the aim being to build strong social ties without talking about business. Casual interactions, therefore, may be pivotal to overcoming the sense of otherness, thus promoting CSSPs, and in turn enhancing CSR learning and development for organizations.
  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Service level improvement through lead time reduction and inventory optimization
    (2015)
    Gallmann, Francesco
    ;
    This Ph.D. thesis aims to understand, first, why some companies excel at logistics service level while others do not and, second, how to improve logistics service level. More in detail, the goal of this research is to investigate and analyse both the drivers and the obstacles of logistics service level excellence.
    Logistic service level represents increasingly today, in very competitive markets and in the presence of very demanding customers, a crucial element for differentiation and a source of competitive advantage in many different businesses. There are different facets of logistics service level, defined as a bundle of different attributes. This thesis has focused on two of them: speed and inventory availability.
    Given the nature of the research objectives developed, an exploratory case study research methodology has been chosen to gain an in-depth understanding of a phenomenon: drivers and obstacles of service level improvement. First, lead time reduction has been investigated through make-to-order cases. The focus has been, first, on manufacturing lead time, analysed through a single in-depth case study, and then has moved to order-to-delivery lead time, studied through a multiple case study research. Second, inventory availability has been investigated through multiple make-to-stock cases.
    The first output, a theoretical contribution, of this thesis consists of a conceptual foundation for theory development concerning logistics service level improvement. Three frameworks, focused respectively on manufacturing and order-to-delivery lead time reduction and inventory availability improvement, have been developed combining the knowledge emerged from the literature, the case studies and the observations and the experience of the researcher.
    The second finding, a practical contribution, is that, although lead time reduction is increasingly today a key driver for competitive advantage or even for survival in many different businesses, there is still substantial room for improvement and, more dangerously, managers are often unaware of this opportunity. In addition, this research highlights that the main obstacles of lead time reduction seem to be more related to other management areas, such as people behaviour, organisation and accounting, than to technical operations management issues. As far as inventory availability is concerned, the main practical finding is that managers should not only focus on inventory management, but also to other related processes such as warehouse management and forecasting and that there are different ways, not a single recipe, to reach logistic service level excellence.
  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Evaluation of the dynamic impacts of customer centered lead time reduction improvements on customer-oriented and financial performance: a hybrid approach of system dynamics and queuing network analysis
    Motivated by the strategic importance of reduced lead times in today’s competitive business environment, this doctoral dissertation analyzes the dynamic impacts of lead time reduction (LTR) improvements on customer satisfaction and related financial performance metrics. The core thesis is centered on development of an integrated dynamic performance measurement framework which covers operational, customer-oriented and financial performance dependencies over time. The framework is demonstrated through two empirical industrial cases.
    Effective reduction of lead time is possible through understanding the relationship between lead time and lead time related factors, and the implications of these relations on system performance. Reducing lead time can have direct and indirect effects, improving overall company performance in short-term and long-term. Due to certain system interactions, not only does operational performance improve, but so do customer satisfaction and financial measures which are affected in terms of, e.g., reduced inventories and inventory carrying costs; improved service quality, diminished cancelled orders and reduced penalty costs; increased sales, improved market shares and profitability.
    In particular, this research targets to identify which situational factors play a critical role between lead time reduction strategies and related effect on performance, and to understand how reduction of lead time impacts long-term performance compared to short-term effects.
    In this direction, an integrated performance measurement framework has been developed by considering mathematical principles of lead time reduction and covering dynamic dependencies between financial and non-financial performance dimensions. The framework is comprehensive yet simple enough to consider trade-off characteristics among both time-based and non-time-based metrics. The application of the framework was based on hybrid use of two methods: Queuing Theory Based Modeling (QTM) and System Dynamics Modeling (SD) .
    Illustration of the lead time reduction framework is provided through two interrelated studies based on industrial applications done collaboratively with two international manufacturing companies. In this regard, two studies summarize these stages:
    • The first study focuses on integrated analysis of some lead time reduction strategies on system performance (locating bottleneck capacity buffers, eliminating sources of waiting, setup time and reducing variability). In particular, we focus on the dynamic dependencies between bottleneck buffer configuration and station loading policies in order to analyze how those dependencies affect operational performance improvement: Throughput increase and reduction of lead time while considering various levels of demand variability. In particular, our analysis provides evidence for performance improvement without needing to invest to increase the bottleneck resource. Application of a particular station loading strategy and usage of multiple buffers (moving from a single common buffer to multi-buffers) yields better performance when variability increases.
    • The second study focuses on analyzing the dynamic impacts of lead time reduction approaches on customer satisfaction and financial performance based on an industrial case created in joint collaboration with a European-based international company operating under make-to-stock manufacturing strategy. Based on the system’s characteristics some lead time reduction strategies are selected (i.e. optimization of batch size, reallocation of system resources by pooling labor and improving the setup time) and the industrial production process is successfully improved without significant cost and time investments. Subsequently, related effects on customer-based performance and corresponding financials such as capacity investment (i.e. buying a new machine) are analyzed. Key cost figures, such as processing, inventory, labor costs and others were determined by evaluating the underlying cost accounting system. Later, motivated by the industrial application, the framework was further analyzed using sensitivity analysis. The insights gathered through industrial applications are used to present a sensitivity analysis based on short and long-term demand and lead time interaction. The sensitivity analysis is used for two main purposes: (i) to analyze the long-term performance impacts of lead time reduction under the extreme conditions of market demand; (ii) to question the conditions to maintain the long-term sustainability of lead time reduction. The sensitivity analysis provided additional insight into the dynamic behavior of the demand and lead time interaction.
  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Trendberichte zum Operations Management – Eine Festschrift für Werner Jammernegg
    (Frankfurt: PL Academic Research, 2013) ;
    Fichtinger, Johannes
    ;
    ;
    Poiger, Martin
  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Ein nachhaltiges Supply Chain Bewertungsmodell unter besonderer Berücksichtigung zeitlicher Wettbewerbsfaktoren
    (2012)
    Glässer, Dominik
    ;
    The focus of the dissertation which deals with the topic of Operations management is on supply chain management and on the assessability of dynamic interactions of lead time with regard to overall performance of the system. Based on progressive globalization (Reiner et al. 2008) which results in competitive pressure from low-wage countries and based on higher service requirements of customers, time-based competitive strategies (Askenazy et al. 2006), in addition to cost and quality, are a success factor which becomes more and more important for companies in many industrial sectors (Krüger und Steven 2000, Suri 2010). In this context, the reduction of lead time is one of the decisive mechanisms for improvement. Irrespective of the positive impact of reduced lead time in many sectors, many managers do not pay sufficient attention to it (Suri 1998). On the one hand, this is due to the fact that attempts for the reduction of lead times are directed against standard management methods, for example, the maximization of resource utilization. The dynamic correlations between lead time, resource utilization, batch size and variability are not always intuitive and, to some extent, difficult to understand (Suri 1998). On the other hand, a time based evaluation model is not yet available which could be used to evaluate the overall performance of interrelations and interactions of measured values relating to effectiveness (for example, customer satisfaction) and efficiency (for example, costs) (Götze et al. 2000, Maskell and Kennedy 2007).
    That is why a sustainable supply chain evaluation model is developed in this dissertation, which, above all, takes time-based competition factors into account. The evaluation model provides an attempt of how to better understand, analyze and evaluate the overall performance of lead time reduction methods or, in general, the lead time. The benefit is illustrated based on the application for a real supply chain with subsequent implementation. All in all, the dissertation adds to a better understanding of relations within the supply chain.
    The dissertation is structured as follows in order to reach the research objective:
    First of all, theoretical basics are described and methodic outlook is provided which reflects the research attempt.
    This is followed by an empirical examination of the queueing theory in chapter 3. It’s most important theoretical basis for production management is the functional correlation of resource utilization, variability and lead time. Even if there is no doubt about the correctness of axiomatic, quantitative research, the exponential proportion between lead time and resource utilization has so far not been examined explicitly based on empirical data of complex production systems. Varied reasons might be stated for this loophole. For example, companies make implied efforts to avoid an increase in lead time in situation of high resource utilization. It must be checked in particular against the background of real implementation to which extent the theoretical basics can be found in practical application. A global leading polymer-processing company will be selected in order to answer the research question in an empirical manner. This branch of industry is marked by high customer requirements. This becomes apparent above all from very short lead times, a high level of response to new market trends and a high level of quality. The proportion between lead time and resource utilization will be examined based on more than 19,000 products over a period of 2 1/2 years.
    Afterwards, a sustainable supply chain evaluation model is developed in chapter 4, which, above all, takes time-based competitive factors into account. This is necessary since the maxim regarding an increase in resource utilization continues to be a widespread target for many managers in the manufacturing industry and in the service sector. This is due to inappropriate performance evaluation and incentive systems for managers in which dynamic correlations between production, customer and cost-oriented performance dimensions are neglected. An evaluation model is therefore created which takes account of dynamic correlations and which makes it possible to evaluate various lead time reduction attempts as a whole prior to implementation or in general. The combination of rapid modelling and system dynamics is the core element of the evaluation model. The necessary empirical data are provided by the aforementioned leading polymer-processing company which turned out to be an ideal object of investigation since evidence for the correlation between resource utilization and lead time could be provided in an empirical manner. In addition, an extensive data basis is available and, on the other hand, time-based competitive factors become more and more important in this branch of industry.
    The evaluation model allows to examine and to evaluate the impact of lead time on the overall performance for many situations. The findings gained from this can now be used for supply chain processes (chapter 5). Cross-organizational as well as internal key performance indicators are measured by means of process simulation in order to evaluate strategic/tactical attempts for improvement of a specific supply chain. The adapted evaluation model is illustrated based on the polymer-processing company the supply chain of which is marked by an agile environment which means that the supply chain partners must be in a position to cope with fluctuating demand situations without jeopardizing the customer service level because it is the market winner. This is followed by the real implementation of the scenario with best results acc. to the simulation model.
    Chapter 6 finally provides an overview of the results of the individual chapters. A conclusion is drawn and benefits of the dissertation are stated in this chapter as well. In addition, this chapter provides a perspective with regard to further potential research work.
  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Supply chain performance: the impact of interactions between flexibility enablers and uncertainty
    (2011)
    Nieto, Yvan
    ;
    This doctoral dissertation in the field of Supply Chain Management focuses on the dynamic interactions between uncertainty, flexibility, and performance in the supply chain. In particular, it provides evidence that the improvements related to uncertainty reduction practices are modulated by the flexibility enablers engaged by the companies involved in the supply network. Consequently, it highlights the need for system-wide evaluation that captures the dynamics of the specific operational characteristics of a network. Further, this dissertation explores the issue of the interaction between uncertainty and flexibility in model-based supply chain evaluation. The results denote that neglecting these relationships might lead to mistaken estimation of the supply chain performance.
    The impact of both uncertainty and flexibility on supply chain variability leads to multiple dynamic interactions, which creates complex problems at the time of assessing the impact of supply chain improvements on the performance of the system. Indeed, if general supply chain behavior has been identified, the impact of the interactions between specific operational settings on the system dynamics remains largely unknown. In particular, serious gaps remain in the understanding of the dependencies between flexibility enablers. This understanding is important because of its direct implications on the dynamic of the system. Interactions between flexibility enablers are assumed to influence the general ability of the system to demonstrate flexibility and therefore directly affect the behavior of the system. This knowledge is therefore required in order to better understand the mechanisms underlying supply chain performance, and then to enable model to capture better the dynamics of the systems.
    The core of this dissertation is constituted by three articles that can be read separately. All of these studies are related to the interaction between uncertainty and flexibility with regard to supply chain performance; however, the detailed research questions considered in each study are distinct.
    The first study investigates the interaction between forecasting and flexibility enablers with regard to managing demand. It is assumed that superior knowledge regarding demand influences the production process as well and, consequently, the flexibility enablers' effect on company performance. This analysis evidences that the impact of forecasting on performance is due to the mediating effect of flexibility enablers. In particular, it shows that the relationship between forecasting and customer satisfaction is mainly due to process flow management, while the relationship with cost efficiency is mainly due to layout. Therefore, this study not only provided evidence of the existing relationships between forecasting and performance, but it provided as well some insights on the causality of this relationship. In particular, the study showed that the availability of additional information helps the actors involved in a specific process to make prompt decisions and align different units that manage each separate part of the production process. The performance improvements (i.e., increased cost efficiency as well as effectiveness) related to improved forecasting can then be magnified by process or layout modifications.
    The second study examines the real-life situation of a supply chain where the flexibility of the production facility is directly influenced by the level of uncertainty in demand. In this setting, better demand information (i.e., uncertainty reduction) allows for wiser decision making regarding capacity adjustments and reduces the trade-off between volume flexibility and production efficiency. The simulation results shows that, for the specific settings of the study, the benefits from the uncertainty reduction provided by advance demand information are strongly influenced by the production and inventory management constraints engaged in the supply network. In particular, the value of advance demand information is magnified by the realistic situation where uncertainty reduction enables the manufacturer to improve the alignment of its production capacity with the forthcoming demand. Also, the value of the advance demand information is dependent on the policy regulating the interaction between the distribution center and the manufacturer. These interactions combine to determine the ability of the supply chain to satisfy demand in an effective and efficient manner and are therefore of critical importance to support decision making.
    The third study considers the implications of integrating the non-constant variability of the demand variance with periodic reviews of up-to-level inventory policy. Such variability is traditionally observed in seasonal demand patterns where the demand variance is generally correlated to the average demand. This research work demonstrates the potential trade-off existing between safety stock accuracy and safety stock variability in inventory control with seasonal demand. Specifically, it highlights how the improvement achieved in adapting the safety stock to the fluctuation of the variability of the perceived uncertainty (i.e., the non-constant variability of the forecast error) is balanced by the resulting increase in replenishment order variability. Further, this study demonstrates that this dynamic dependency can only be captured if the relationship between the capacitated production system and the inventory system is explicitly modeled (i.e., the lead time is endogenous).
    In general, the above-mentioned contributions highlight the need for a better understanding of the relationships between uncertainty, flexibility, and performance at the supply chain level, integrating in the performance measurement both efficiency and effectiveness. Further, it provides evidence that valuable estimation of performance based on supply chain modeling requires integrating the detailed interaction existing between the specific operational characteristics of the network under study. From a managerial point of view, these findings stressed the danger inherent to decision making supported by over-simplified supply chain models and propose, through an example, a methodology to tackle this issue.
  • Publication
    Métadonnées seulement