• Research Initiatives

    Ensuring Resilient and Robust Supply Chains

    The Covid 19 pandemic exposed the fragility of the flow of critical goods and service through global supply chains. Sustainable supply chains have to be resilient – avoiding supply disruptions from known risks and rebounding quickly from supply disruptions from unknown risks. No supply chain can be sustainable unless supply chain professionals from purchasing, logistics, demand planning, manufacturing, and distribution work collaboratively to ensure accurate delivery of essential products to the end customer.

    This initiative supports projects seeking to build the analytic and transformative capacity of sectors and individual firms to ensure continuity of end-to-end physical material and requisite information flows under normal and strained environmental conditions. Project outcomes provide insights to design systems, deploy resources and assets, and leverage relationships within- and across-organizations to make supply chains more resilient.

    We encourage a multi-disciplinary, multi-method approach in supported projects. We also recognize that effective solutions will be cross functional and consider the interests of multiple stakeholders in order to engineer the transparency, incentives and trust to ensure availability of critical supply.

    This initiative is expected to produce three outcomes in the form of research and educational materials:

    1. Provide frameworks and their validation for building the capability and capacity to manage emerging supply disruption risks that potentially trigger supply disruptions and interrupt flows of materials and of requisite information. There has been decades of management theorization and practitioner experience with risk management, emergency response planning, preparedness, etc. It is time to talk about what works or does not work in the context of supply chain analysis and planning.

    2. Compare and contrast the capabilities needed by organizations in different sectors and with different kinds and severity of supply disruption risks. Pandemics are one source of disruption. Supply chains face disruption from climate change, talent shortages, cyber crime and political conflict.

    3. Develop tools and models to predict and detect, (a) potential supply disruption risks and (b) actual supply disruptions. Early warnings and accurate real time tracking of disruptions is desired by all supply chain managers. They though require managers to have an intimate knowledge of their organization’s vulnerabilities and the magnitude of potential threats. Advanced analytics embodied in digitals twins of the organization and delivered by dashboards mining lakes of public or private data gives capable organizations options to strategize what’s best. They also can highlight trade-offs between stakeholder interests and implementation challenges for organizations early in their digital transformation.

    We welcome inquiries from interested parties to receive updates on activities and propose collaboration on work to achieve progress on the above outcomes.

    Related Reading:

    • Publication: J. Rungtusanatham and D. Johnston, “Get Ready for the Next Supply Disruption,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Nov. 7, 2022.
    • Webinar: “Are You Ready for the Next Supply Disruption?” Webinar hosted by MIT Sloan Management Review, featuring D. Johnston and J. Rungtusanatham. Watch the webinar here.


David A. Johnston

Director, George Weston Ltd Centre for Sustainable Supply Chains
Director, Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM) Program
Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems
Contact: djohnston@schulich.yorku.ca

View Faculty Page

Related Reading: How Will COVID-19 Change Supply Chains?