Departments' graduate courses

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Operations and Supply Chain Management

  • Course code: FTEK065
  • Course higher education credits: 7.5
  • Graduate school: Technology Management and Economics
  • Course start: 2019-09-16
  • Course is normally given:
  • Language: The course will be given in English
  • Nordic Five Tech (N5T): This course is free for PhD students from N5T universities

Next course: 2019-09-16

Below information is from last course.

Background, aim and learning objectives
The background to this course is a wish to provide students at the graduate school in Technology Management and Economics a profound understanding on issues related to research within operations and supply chain management. We have chosen to subtitle the course ¿ theories, perspectives, history, and current research topics ¿ to give guidance about what we aim to accomplish.
Both operations management and supply chain management are emerging professions and research areas, which have strong theoretical and historical roots in a variety of disciplines; logistics, purchasing, distribution, transportation, manufacturing and production.
The two research areas show both similarities and differences and they are also somewhat interlinked. This is the reason for why we have chosen to integrate these two research areas into one course.
The aim of this course is manifold. First, the course aims to explore the history of the research areas; how they have developed over time, both in terms of theoretical concepts and practical context, and how they are historically interlinked. Another aim is to identify and create an understanding of key theoretical principles and concepts within the wider area of operations and supply chain management. The focus will be in particular on the problem area and explanatory power of a selection of theories, to understand their origin, fundamental assumptions, and use in problem solving. These theories span over intra to inter-organisational perspectives. The course should be regarded as a process in which participants are given opportunity to learn about historical roots of their academic discipline, key concepts and their fundamental assumptions, and encouraged to position their research in the wider context of operations and supply chain management. 

After successfully completing this course, students have:
1. Developed an understanding of contemporary frameworks and emerging themes within operations and supply chain management.
2. Developed an insight into a selection of theories from other disciplines that can be applied to define and analyse problems related to operations and supply chain management.
3. Understood the importance of the empirical context for the development and use of theoretical principles.
4. Developed an appreciation of the historical context and key concepts and approaches within operations and supply chain management, and their ¿problem areas¿.

By this, students acknowledge the background of their theoretical frameworks and the underlying basic theoretical assumptions, and should be able to position their own studies relative to relevant schools of thought within the discipline.
The maximum number of students in the course is 16.

Organisation of the course
Before each session students (in groups of two) should have read the literature for that session and handed in about two A4 pages to the responsible teachers for that session. This hand-in should discuss two general questions and two session specific questions.
The two general questions are the following:
¿ When reading the articles do you identify something especially surprising/interesting? Motivate and discuss your choice
¿ Is there a connection to your own research area? If yes, describe how. If no, is there anyhow something in the articles that inspires you?
This should be handed-in at the latest one week before the theme session.
All sessions are mandatory, and will take place in the Technology Management and Economics seminar room (room 2456) in the Vasa area, building 2, floor 4.

Session 1 : Course introduction, Frida Lind and Magnus Persson
The course will be introduced, including its structure and the different assignments. Each participant should also prepare a short (maximum 3 minutes) presentation of his/her research area, if you want you can use 1-2 ppt-slides for doing this.

Session 2 : Overview Operations and Supply Chain Management, David Bennett

Consider the following definitions and think about the principal questions below using the suggested readings as background.

Definitions of Operations Management (OM)

From Wikipedia
Operations management is an area of management concerned with designing and controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations in the production of goods or services. It involves the responsibility of ensuring that business operations are efficient in terms of using as few resources as needed and effective in terms of meeting customer requirements. It is concerned with managing the process that converts inputs (in the forms of raw materials, labour, and energy) into outputs (in the form of goods and/or services).

Operations Management: The design, execution, and control of operations that convert resources into desired goods and services, and implement a company's business strategy.

Definitions of Supply Chain Management (SCM)

From Wikipedia
Supply Chain Management is the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand and measuring performance globally.

Supply Chain Management: Management of material and information flow in a supply chain to provide the highest degree of customer satisfaction at the lowest possible cost. Requires the commitment of supply chain partners to work closely to coordinate order generation, order taking, and order fulfilment. They thereby create an extended enterprise spreading far beyond the producer's location.

When thinking about these questions please look at the following suggested reading as background. You are also at liberty to use other literature or internet sources together with your own personal knowledge and experience.

Voss C A (1995) Operations Management - From Taylor To Toyota - And Beyond?, British Journal of Management, Vol. 6, pp S17-S29

Schmenner R W and Swink M L (1998) On Theory in Operations Management, Journal of Operations Management 17 pp 97¿113

Lummus RR and Vokurka R J (1999) Defining Supply Chain Management: A Historical Perspective and Practical Guidelines, Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol 99, No 1 pp 11¿17

Halldorsson A, Kotzab H, Mikkola J H and Skjøtt-Larsen T (2007) Complementary Theories to Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol 12, No 4, pp 284¿296

Session specific questions
¿ Can you identify any consistencies or discrepancies between the two definitions of Operations Management and Supply Chain Management? What are the linkages between them?
¿ Do you see any commonality between the concepts of ¿Operations Management¿ and ¿Supply Chain Management¿? Is it possible to devise a single unifying definition of ¿Operations and Supply Chain Management (O&SCM)?¿

Session 3 : Inter-organisational perspectives, Frida Lind and Magnus Persson

¿ Business relationships and business networks
¿ Industrial network approach
¿ Transaction cost theory
¿ Examples of current research using inter-organisational perspectives

Håkansson H., and Snehota, I. (1995) Developing Relationships in Industrial Networks, Routledge, London, chapter 1 and 2. (to be accessed from:

Williamson, O. E. (1979) ¿Transaction-Cost Economics: The governance of contractual relations¿, The Journal of Law and Economics, 22(2), 233-261.

Persson, M., Eklind, J. and Winroth, M. (2015). ¿Coordinating external manufacturing of product modules¿, Decision Sciences, Published online DOI: 10.1111/deci.12197

Laage-Hellman, J., Lind, F. and Perna, A. (2014) ¿Customer Involvement in Product Development: An Industrial Network Perspective¿, Journal of Business-to-Business, 21(4), 257-276.

See also Halldorsson, A., Kotzab, H., Mikkola, J.  Skjøttt-Larsen (2007) assigned to session 2
Session specific questions
¿ Discuss key concepts, and related theoretical assumptions, of the Industrial Network approach respectively Transaction cost theory.
¿ Reflect on what type of research phenomena that can be captured by relying on an inter-organizational perspective. You are welcome to use examples from Persson et al. (2015) and Laage-Hellman et al. (2014).  

Session 4 : Operations Strategy, Mats Winroth

Operations strategy constitutes the starting point when setting up operations and developing the operations system, similar to a specification of requirements when developing a new product. The topics for this seminar are:
¿ Classical OS
¿ Alignment of Business and Operations
¿ Resource-Based View
¿ Strategic consensus

Skinner, W., 1969, Manufacturing: Missing link in Corporate Strategy, Harvard Business Review, May-June, pp 136-145

Brown, S. And Blackmon, K., 2005, Aligning Manufacturing Strategy and Business-Level Competitive Strategy in New Competitive Environments: The Case for Strategic Resonance, Journal of Management Studies, Vol 42, No 4, June, pp 793-815

Lewis, M., Brandon-Jones, A., Slack, N. and Howard, M., 2010, Competing through operations and supply ¿ The role of classic and extended resource-based advantage, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 30, No. 10, pp 1032-1058

Edh Mirzaei, N., Fredriksson, A. and Winroth M., 2016, Strategic consensus on manufacturing strategy content ¿ Including the operators¿ perceptions, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol 36, No 4, pp 429-466

Session specific questions
¿ Related to e.g. Skinner¿s article, what is the situation in Swedish industry today? Has the situation improved, or is it still as bad?
¿ Why is it important to achieve strategic consensus, i.e. that operators share the same view as managers?

Session 5: Purchasing and Supply Networks, Kajsa Hulthén and Anna Dubois

The session brings up a number of theoretical assumptions and how these assumptions are underlying analytical frameworks. Key concepts discussed in the session: firm boundaries, activity interdependence, resource utilisation, relationships, interaction, supply networks, purchasing portfolio approaches.
Dubois, A., Hulthén, K. and Pedersen, A.-C. (2004) Supply chains and interdependence: a theoretical analysis. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management 10 (1), 3-9.
Håkansson, H. and Gadde, L.E. (1994) The changing role of purchasing - Reconsidering three strategic issues. European Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management 1 (1), 27-35.
Caniels, M. and Gelderman, C.J. (2007) Power and interdependence in buyer supplier relationships: A purchasing portfolio approach. Industrial Marketing Management 36 (2), 219-229.
Villena, V., Choi, T. and Revilla, E. (2015) Managing the dark side of close buyer-supplier relationships. Supply Chain Management Review.

Session specific questions
¿ What are the implications (for research) of considering interdependence among activities in supply chain/network research?
¿ How are theoretical assumptions on firm boundaries reflected in your research (implicitly or explicitly)? What alternative views (and conceptual tools to handle) can you identify and what would the implications be for your research?

Session 6: Quality Management, Ida Gremyr and Bo Bergman

¿ An historical outlook at Quality Management
¿ Quality Management as a set of key principles, practices and tools
¿ Researching Quality Management today, link to sustainable development
¿ An example of a contemporary improvement framework

Dean, J. W. and Bowen, D. E. (1994), ¿Management Theory and Total Quality: Improving Research and Practice Through Theory Development¿, The Academy of Management Review, 19(3), pp. 392-418
Benner, M. J. and Tushman, M.L. (2003), ¿Exploitation, Exploration, and Process Management: The Productivity Dilemma Revisited¿, The Academy of Management Review, 28 (2), pp. 238-256
Sousa, R. and Voss, C. A. (2002), ¿Quality Management Re-Visited: A Reflective Review and Agenda for Future Research¿, Journal of Operations Management, 20(1), pp. 91-109
Bo Bergman, Andreas Hellström, Svante Lifvergren & Susanne M. Gustavsson (2015) An Emerging Science of Improvement in Health Care, Quality Engineering, 27:1, pp. 17-34

Session specific questions
¿ Apply the operationalization from Dean and Bowen (principles, practices, tools) to a key concept in your research. Useful? In what ways?
¿ Quality Management has its roots in the manufacturing industry, what challenges and possibilities do you see when applying it in a service context?

Session 7: Product Development Management, Lars Trygg, Magnus Persson and Ludvig Lindlöf

¿ Organization Design
¿ The R&D / Manufacturing Interface
¿ Cross-Functional integration
¿ Platform Development & Modularization Management
¿ Lean Product Development

Galbraith, J. R, 1977, ¿Organization Design¿, chapter 3. (Will be distributed separately)

Lawrence, P.R. and Lorsch, J.W. (1967), ¿Differentiation and Integration in Complex Organizations¿, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 12, pp. 1-47.

Muffatto, M. and Roveda, M. (2000), ¿Developing Product Platforms: analysis of the development process¿, Technovation, Vol. 20, No. 11, pp. 617-630.

Swan, H. and Furuhjelm, J. (2010), ¿Creating Value Through Lean Product Development ¿ Towards a generic framework¿, Proceedings of the Nord Design Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, August 25-27. (Will be distributed separately)

Session specific questions
¿ How does the paper from 2010 written by two practitioners, Swan and Furuhjelm, relate to the classic works by Galbraith and Lawrence & Lorsch respectively? (Focus on the two value streams)
¿ Do you see any similarities between the concepts ¿platforms¿ and ¿lean product development¿?

Session 8: Closing the gaps between practice and promise in supply chain planning research, Patrik Jonsson and Jan Holmström

The session reviews previous research on supply chain planning and discusses how the literature make practically relevant contribution.
Christensen, C.M. and Raynor, M.E. (2003), ¿Why hard-nosed executives should care about management theory¿, Harvard Business Review, 81 (9).
Jonsson, P. and Holmström, J. (2016),"Future of supply chain planning: closing the gaps between practice and promise", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 46 (1), 62-81.
Oliva, R. and Watson, N. (2011), ¿Cross-functional alignment in supply chain planning: a case study of sales and operations planning¿, Journal of Operations Management, 29 (5), 434-448.
Tuomikangas, N. and Kaipia, R. (2014), ¿A coordination framework for sales and operations planning (S&OP): synthesis from the literature¿, International Journal of Production Economics, 154, 243-262.
Session specific question
¿ Should Hard-Nosed SCM Managers care about academic SCP research? Make the argument for 'yes', as well as for 'not' based on the four articles you have read.

Session 9 : Physical distribution and distribution networks, Dan Andersson and Kajsa Hulthén

¿ The role and importance of distribution  
¿ Distribution as the link between production and consumption
¿ Structuring and organizing distribution
¿ Theoretical perspectives on distribution

Alderson, W. and Martin, M. (1965), ¿Toward a Formal Theory of Transactions and Transvections¿. Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. II, May, pp. 117-127.
Alderson, W. (1954) Factors Governing the Development of Marketing Channels. In Clewett, R. (ed.) Marketing Channels for Manufactured Products. Homewood: Richard D. Irwin
Gadde, L-E. (2004). Activity coordination and resource combining - implications for relationship involvement and the relationship atmosphere. Journal of Marketing
Bucklin, Louis P, 1965, Postponement, speculation and the structure of distribution channels JMR, Journal of Marketing Research (pre-1986); Feb 1965; 2, 000001; ABI/INFORM Global
pg. 26
Kohn, Christofer, Huge-Brodin, Maria, 2008, Centralised distribution systems and the environment: how increased transport work can decrease the environmental impact of logistics, International Journal of Logistics: Research and Applications, Vol 11, Issue 3, pp 229-245.
Kärkkäinen, Mikko, Timo Ala-Risku and Jan Holmström, 2002, Increasing customer value and decreasing distribution costs with merge-in-transit, International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, Vol 33, No 2, (2002), pp 132-148.
 Session specific questions
¿ Discuss in what way time requirements and economies of scale may influence the design of physical distribution systems.
¿ Reflect on how environmental demands and new technologies may influence the development of physical distribution systems in in the future.

Individual Term Paper Assignment
Each student should write a term paper, linking its own research topic to the content of the course. This work needs to be finished by January 2019.

In the term paper assignment you are to decide upon and work with a theme of relevance to your own research topic based on ongoing discussions in a key journal. The main idea of the assignment is to write a background and to motivate and problematize your own research topic in relation to identified recent discussions in a specific OSCM-journal.

(I) The students are asked to identify current themes under discussion the last three
years in one selected target journals. Examples of relevant OSCM-journals:
- International Journal of Operations and Production Management
- Journal of Operations Management
- Journal of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management: An international journal
- International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
- Industrial Marketing Management

(II) From this current discussion, motivate and position their own research topic in relation to this journal. Build on at least one of the themes in the course.

(III) The goal is that the students shall develop a draft of an Introduction to a journal
article in the term paper assignment.

Term paper sessions
There will be time devoted for discussing the progress of the term papers.  You book time individually with Frida and/or Magnus. In this supervision the students presents the main topic and idea of the term paper. This is an opportunity to receive feedback from the teachers. The term paper will be presented, and discussed, at the final session of the course.

A term paper is approximately 3000 words.

Final session: January : Student presentations, Magnus Persson and Frida Lind



Professor Frida Lind, Associate Professor Magnus Persson
More information

Published: Thu 14 Oct 2010. Modified: Tue 22 Aug 2017