Process Improvement to Lean Supply Chain Management

Process Improvement to Lean Supply Chain Management (LSCM)

We have an interest in the role of Continuous Improvement (CI) approaches at supply chain, organisational and business process levels. In this context we investigate various approaches to strategy deployment and have particular interest in leadership, behavioural change and team capability and action. At business process level we have also focused on the efficiency and effectiveness challenges faced by many firms.  This work has suggested hybrid lean-agile strategies and tools (e.g. Product-Customer segmentation on the basis of demand variability and volume and a Decision Support Framework for Production Planning). The research team is very grateful for funding provided by the Lauritzson Foundation for research projects in this field. 
Lean Supply Chain Management (LSCM) field adopts a business process approach that spans the interface between production planning and supply chain planning levels. Thus research in this area addresses key supply chain metrics through application of specific supply chain processes such as: customer order fulfilment, NPI and quality management processes, in addition enabling and governance processes (such as supply chain risk management) are considered in the context of supply chain best practices.

The research team are very grateful for funding provided by the Lauritzson Foundation.

Main Research Team: 

Supply Chain Eco-Systems and Network Analysis

In recent years vertical interdependencies between firms along the supply chain have become more pronounced as firms specialise in core competencies.  At the same time, horizontal interdependencies between firms at the same stage of the supply chain are also more evident.  This prompts ‘a business network view’ that considers interdependencies, associated knowledge creation/flow and the role of network position.  Given the interdependent nature of these networks they have increasingly been likened to ecosystems. Characterised by co-evolution and coopetition, business ecosystems have emerged across diverse industries and facilitate a myriad of vertical, horizontal and diagonal relationships. Interest in these structures has focused on numerous activities such as product development, supply and market access. Business ecosystems highlight the networked environment in which firms operate, where an individual firm’s action may not only impact on other network members but also impact (change) the network itself (on which the individual firm is dependent).  It is this interplay between network structure and firm agency that is of particular interest to us.  We investigate the emergence and development of 'supply chain eco-systems’ – we are currently investigating two rural based networks (one food and the other high tech enterprises) and have studied diagonal, horizontal and vertical ties with interesting results.

Main Research Team:

Closed-Loop Supply Chain

Addressing economic and environmental sustainability in fact-growing emerging economies

In the last decade there has been considerable industry interest in reverse logistics and closed-loop supply chain management due to several factors such as strict environmental laws and regulations, increasing product returns due to consumer discontentment, and emergence of profitable opportunities related to the residual commercial value of end-of-life/end-of-use products.  This research considers the role of closed loop chains in emerging markets and adopts a stakeholder approach and employs process mapping techniques.  Work to date has focused on the ready-to-wear garment closed loop chain. Given end of life cycle characteristics in this product category we have focused attention on household behaviour.  In this regard we employ an adapted theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model to assess householder intention to plan garment recycling. A second phase of this work has just begun on design for recycle/re-use across a number of industries.  Related work focuses on design of products for recycling/reuse.

Main Research Team: 

The project is led by:

  • Dr Seamus O’Reilly (Director SCM Programmes, UCC)Dr Seamus O'Reilly (UCC)
  • Dr Anita Kumar (Amity Business School, Dehli, India)

Supply Chain ‘Centres of Excellence’ in Multinational Corporations

This research explores how subsidiary sites may create and take the opportunity to ‘trade-up the value chain’ and embed value add global services within the multinational corporation. We are interested in the key conditions that lead to such growth and development and aim to explore various related themes such as: 

  • the type and origin of initiatives, 

  • antecedents, 

  • key competencies, 

  • development stages, 

  • range of activities/functions/services, 

  • management structures and 

  • relationship management.

Main Research Team: 

  • Dr. Seamus O’Reilly (Director SCM Programmes, UCC)

  • Anne Nagle (Part-time lecturer, UCC & Nagle Business Solutions)

Extended Resource-Based Theory of the Firm

Many scholars have considered the strategic implications of overt inter-firm management along supply chains, such as: ‘supply chains competing against supply chains’ (Christopher, 1992)1, competitiveness based on external collectively owned competencies (O’Reilly et al.2003)2 and member performance linked to the performance of the supply chain as a whole (Cooper et al. 1997)3. This has prompted us to consider the strategic and operational implications of leveraging core competencies along the supply chain from the perspective of tier one suppliers.  In this context we are investigating tier one supplier capabilities, strategic drivers, relationship management and ultimately skill-sets required.

Main Research Team: 

1 Christopher, M.L., 1992. Logistics and supply chain management, London: Pitman Publishing.
Cooper, M. C., Lambert, D. M. and Pagh, J. D., 1997. Supply chain management: more than a new name for logistics. The international journal of logistics management, 8(1),  1-14. 
O'Reilly, S., Haines, M. and Arfini, F., 2003. Food SME networks: process and governance - the case of Parma ham. Journal of chain and network science, 3(1), 21-32.

SCM Competencies and Educational Programme Design & Delivery

Supply Chain Management (SCM) skills and competencies raise quite a debate not only because of the wide variety of definitions of SCM but also due to the contested nature of skill and competency development.  Our research draws on pedagogical theory and experience in this field and thus aims to contribute to the discourse on SCM competencies and associated educational programme design and delivery for executive/post-experience learners. We have a particular interest in pedagogic approaches adopted in management practice education and the role of online learning in enhancing the learning experience.


Short Food Supply Chains

In recent years there has been a renewed interest and a significant growth in alternatives to the conventional food supply chain which allow primary producers and consumers to connect in new and more direct ways via outlets such as farmers’ markets, online sales, restaurant sales, specialist retailers, etc. This research adds to the emerging knowledge base on this fast-growing sector of the food industry and rural landscape and more specifically, examines how the sector might be encouraged and facilitated to grow and develop further.  

Main Research Team: 

  • Dr Seamus O’Reilly (Director SCM Programmes, UCC)

  • Dr Mary O'Shaughnessy (Dept Food Business & Development, UCC)

  • Dr Aisling Moroney (Centre for Cooperative Studies, Part-time Researcher, UCC)




Discipline of Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management Programmes, 2nd Floor, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork