Supply Chain and Operations Management

About Supply Chain Management

Our mission is to develop and apply the integrative approach of supply chain management (SCM) to achieve continuous improvement of quality of life, functioning of society, and professional development of individuals and organisations.

To achieve this, the research groups that together represent the subject area of SCM conduct research at highest academic standards that is of interest for the research community and relevance for practitioners and policy makers.  Further, the subject area commits to research-lead teaching and learning activity, not only to meet contemporary employability criteria but also in order to develop these together with external organisations, which includes manufacturing and transportation, but also service providers and governmental institutions.

Unique selling points

The research group at Chalmers is renowned for working closely with external organisations in research and teaching, it has well-established national and international networks, and it has taken on a leading role in providing an integrative approach to the subject area of supply chain management. There are in particular six integrative features shape the direction and delivery of the group:
  1. Process: Key business processes deliver goods and services
    Production of goods and services is based upon integration of key business processes that constitute the production flow; purchasing and supply management, manufacturing- and logistics operations, materials handling, product development, distribution, transport, customer service and reverse logistics, within and across the boundaries of the firm. Information technology and systems supporting this integration is an essential part of SCM.
  2. Inter-organisational: Buyer-supplier relationship management in business networks
    A key to successful performance lies in the organisation’s ability to manage relationships with customers and suppliers. Further, these relationships must be understood in a wider context of the supply network. The study of business processes crossing organizational borders is an important characteristic of our research.

  3. Performance: Environmental, social and economic impact
    Research and teaching activity lead to impact on business (e.g. in terms cost efficiency, effectiveness, competitiveness or innovation), but also on the wider society (social and environmental issues) where efficient resource utilisation and environmentally sustainable logistics is in focus. This approach is vital since for example transport processes have a significant impact on the environment, and transport demand is highly influenced by the activities performed by other actors in the supply chain.
  4. Knowledge triangle:  Research, education, innovation The dynamic interaction between three components: Research based upon multiple sources of evidence; teaching and learning activity to educate employable students; and innovation that leads to business impact. Research problems and –questions are often developed through close interaction with the empirical field and with a particular organisational context in mind.
  5. Evidence-based approach to research: Research design that clearly link theory and practice Knowledge creation is based upon research design that make use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches, balancing rigor and relevance, and in a manner that allows for ‘systematic combining’, i.e. continuous movement between the empirical and theoretical domains. Common to our studies is a close interaction with the empirical field (external organisations). The studies are performed within a variety of contexts, for example automotive, transport, food, retail and health care.
  6. Inter-disciplinary approach, considering technical, economical, as well as organisational implications Research and teaching activity benefit from interactions with other fields. At the department of Technology Management and Economics, complementary fields include quality science and operations management.  We also work closely with other institutions that have expertise in e.g. product- and production development, environmental sciences, industrial sociology and mathematical sciences.


SCM does not imply the ‘union of everything’, on the contrary, this integrative approach allows for ‘combination of the relevant’; the development of theories and frameworks through research, to offer courses and programs relevant to employability of students, and to achieve wider societal impact. In this perspective, the success of a particular strategy and action is based on the ability to relate, and the interaction between the components of a particular system.

Current research can be summarised in terms of the following areas:

  • Transport and logistics services
  • Distribution structures and -strategies
  • Purchasing and materials supply
  • Operations planning and control
  • Business relationships and -networks
  • Sustainability and logistics

In this work, the group enjoys its unique position among academics and practitioners, and not least being a part of a vibrant research environment at a technical university. The subject area of SCM constitutes substantial contribution to Chalmers’ Areas of Advance, primarily Transportation but also Production and Energy. The subject area of SCM is presented in various courses and programs at Chalmers. The flagship is the two-year full-time master's programme in Supply Chain Management, but the group has also successfully offered shorter programs to professionals, e.g. within lean management and to SCM executives.


A focal point of organising the research activity is Northern LEAD Logistics Centre, a research centre that is a joint venture of Chalmers and University of Gothenburg. 



About Operations Management

The Operations Management target area at the department of Technology Management and Economics focuses on strategy and management of R&D and Manufacturing, as well as the relation between them. The R&D and Manufacturing strategies are derived from the overall business strategy of the company.
The research conducted within Operations Management can be divided into three different research streams:
  • Design – How to design the product development process and the R&D organization, aswell as the manufacturing system.
  • Management – This is about how to manage the development of actual technologies,products and services ; for Manufacturing it is about the daily management of production (the production planning and control).
  • Improvement - How organizations can improve their R&D and Manufacturing related activities/processes over time.
The design research stream currently includes among others the following research topics:
  • R&D organization- This includes alternative R&D strategies along with organizationalalternatives for efficient and effective development of products, but also how existing knowledge on product innovation and product development can be transferred and applied in service innovation and development.
  • Product development processes – This covers alternative ways how to structure and conduct the actual development of products and services.
  • Manufacturing system design - This is about the physical realization of products and services. This involves developing a conceptual solution of the manufacturing system, which matches the strategic objectives.
The management research stream currently includes among others the following research topics:
  • Product development practices and tools – This focuses on the development of product development practices and tools leading to an efficient product development action, as well as studies of how to implement tools and practices in the development work.
  • Production planning and control- This is concerned with planning and controlling all aspects of manufacturing, including managing materials and capacity, scheduling machines and people, and coordinating capacities and material flows from suppliers and to customers, on strategic, tactical and operational levels.
The improvement research stream currently includes among others the following research topics:
  • Research in this field span practices and tools to improve both product development and manufacturing related activities, as well as management of improvement activities.

Within this area much is done on Quality Management; organizing quality management, strategy and management of large scale improvement initiatives such as Six Sigma, process management and translation of improvement initiatives between different individuals, organizations, and sectors.

Practical application

The practical application areas of the research vary considerably. The manufacturing industry provides a strong base for the research. However, during the last years the research basis has also included other type of businesses, such as SME:s and healthcare organizations.
Researchers have a long-standing relationship with companies and public organizations and have often worked in close collaboration with them, participating in, contributing to and studying the companies’ and organizations’ development. One example is the major companies making up the automotive industry in the surrounding region of Chalmers. In addition, a research and education centre - Centre for Healthcare Improvement (CHI) - that focuses on knowledge transfer from industry to healthcare has been established.

Master’s programme

Quality and Operations Management (QOM)


Center for Health Care Improvement (CHI)


Published: Mon 26 Sep 2011. Modified: Fri 10 Feb 2017