Research in Supply Chain Risk: Historical Roots and Future Perspectives

  • George A. ZsidisinEmail author
  • Michael Henke
Part of the Springer Series in Supply Chain Management book series (SSSCM, volume 7)


Risk has always existed in business and networks—well before the terms supply chain and supply chain management became part of our lexicon. However, our understanding of supply chain risk only started to coalesce approximately twenty years ago. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight how "Revisiting Supply Chain Risk" serves as a bridge between our current knowledge of supply chain risk to where we believe the discipline will evolve.

1 A Rich and Developing History

Risk has always existed in business and supply chains—well before the terms supply chain and supply chain management became part of our lexicon. There is no shortage of reported incidents from centuries and even millennia ago about supply disruptions due to shipwrecks from storms or piracy/theft from transporting spices, food, precious metals, materials, and a myriad of other products. Simply stated, throughout history we have been challenged with managing risk in our supply chains.

The interest in and study of supply chain risk can be argued to have started shortly after the emergence of supply chain management as a recognized academic discipline in business. Prior research associated with supply chain risk, usually in the form of disruptions, focused on providing certain service levels through inventory management (minimizing stockouts) or determining when to use one or multiple suppliers. However, our understanding of supply chain risk and its management (beyond creating inventory buffers and multiple supply sources) as an academic area of inquiry has only emerged with changing business practices and world events starting around the turn of the twenty-first century.

During the last 20 years, we have significantly expanded our knowledge and awareness of supply chain risk. A thorough review of this rich literature is well beyond the scope of this introduction chapter. However, the contributions throughout this book build on and cite most of the seminar published studies in this discipline.

Today, we are observing an unprecedented shift in our ability for detecting, preventing, and mitigating the detrimental effects of supply disruptions and other forms of risk (financial, reputation). Industry 4.0 , with its technological emphasis on digitization, connectedness, and data analysis capabilities, arguably provides the next platform for us in our ability to identify, analyse, estimate, and proactively manage supply chain risk from the n-tier supplier to the final consumer.

2 Shifting Toward Digitalization and Data Analytics

Since the last significant financial and economic crisis in 2008, many enterprises established crisis management approaches best described as reactive, instead of focusing on proactive risk management approaches for rectifying issues such as supplier insolvencies (Henke et al. 2010). However, with the recent technological leaps of digitalization and (big) data analytics, firms have significantly greater capability for creating comprehensive and proactive supply chain risk management (SCRM) processes in business practice.

Since the fourth industrial revolution is continuing to push information and communication technology even further, its enabling technologies provide the ability for realizing real-time SCRM. Digital supply chains provide extensive information availability and enable superior collaboration and communication because of the technological integration of processes and systems, creating an interconnectedness at every integral part of a supply chain (Raab and Griffin-Cryan 2011). Digitalization facilitates a dynamic manufacturing system, making networking across company borders possible and generating transparency. The digital supply chain makes it possible to identify potential sources of risk and implement mitigation plans efficiently in complex networks, since material, information, and financial flows are “visible” in real time and detail (Butner 2010; Yu and Goh 2014).

Real-time information availability in combination with corresponding data-processing tools allows a faster reaction to changing conditions along the supply chain (Güller et al. 2015). With this technological evolution, it is possible to rather accurately anticipate near future changes. In this context, big data analytics and real-time decision-making allows companies to react to the fast-changing business environment, since it provides insight from data by applying statistics, mathematics, econometrics, simulations, optimizations, or other techniques (Wang et al. 2016). With the help of big data analytics, information is converted into business intelligence, which leads to a better understanding of events from the past but also to predict future events (Sanders 2014). In that case, predictive analytics provide estimations about the future state using business forecasting and simulation to answer questions of “what will happen?” and “why will it happen?” (Delen and Demirkan 2013). Prescriptive analytics is used to recommend a course of mitigation actions for given the predicted future by using simulation and optimization and addresses questions such as “what shall we do?” and “why shall we do it?” (Evans 2012). Predictive analytics captures relationships among many factors to assess risk and utilizes patterns found between historical and transactional data to identify future potential vulnerabilities (Seuring and Müller 2008). On the other hand, with optimization, simulation, and scenario analysis, prescriptive analytics proposes mitigation actions to avoid risk in situations that will be faced in future (Rozados et al. 2014). As a result, big data analytics have great opportunities for analysis of large-scale data to help companies in risk management and decision-making.

A technology which has been promoted in recent months and which may help in identifying and managing supply chain risk is blockchain technology. With the potential to serve as an appropriate transaction layer for information, blockchain is able to build a digital backbone with IoT and increase visibility into the structure of extended supply chains (Schrauf and Berttram 2017; Biswas and Sen 2016; Babich and Hilary 2018). Blockchain technology can play a central role in SCRM processes (Babich and Hilary 2018). In blockchain-based supply chains, the origin of products can be verifiable and every object in the supply chain provides an unchangeable recording of its activities, also allowing backtracking of actions (Satyavolu and Sangamnerkar 2016). With this increased supply chain visibility, companies can discover potential bottlenecks, estimate probabilities of adverse events, and forecast their consequences at an early stage (Babich and Hilary 2018). Unlike conventional enterprise solutions, where the relevant data is stored in a centralized and isolated manner, Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology, which has the ability to securely digitize many current operations and to share all transaction information between network parties (Yoo 2017). This elimination of information asymmetries allows a shift toward data-driven SCRM and demands further investigation on the role of new information structure for SCRM processes (Babich and Hilary 2018).

Revisiting Supply Chain Risk , as a collection of current research, practice, and philosophy, in many ways serves as a bridge between our current understanding of supply chain risk in practice and theory, and the monumental shifts we are seeing with the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution. Many of the following chapters in the book either directly provide tools or approaches, or indirectly acknowledge the importance and criticality of big data analytics in SCRM processes.

3 Structure of the Book

The study of supply chain risk and its management has significantly developed and branched out to many areas. The ISCRiM network published its first edited book by Brindley (2004), and subsequently Zsidisin and Ritchie (2009) and Khan and Zsidisin (2012). Further, other edited books have further advanced our understanding of supply chain risk, including those from Wu and Blackhurst (2009), and Sodhi and Tang (2012). In addition, almost all supply chain management academic journals and have published numerous research articles on supply chain risk and its various components and related phenomenon. These topics include, but are by no means limited to, supply chain resilience, supply chain vulnerability, supply continuity planning and disruption management, digitization/Industry 4.0 (as previously discussed), supplier risk management, trust, relationships, culture, quality, commodity price volatility, foreign exchange risk, supply chain network design, cyber security, information management, and risk assessment, among others.

Many of the chapters in this collection likewise can be categorized into one or many of these sub-disciplines or related subjects with supply chain risk. As co-editors, we made some difficult decisions in determining the most appropriate section to place each chapter. We believe the current contributions highlight both established themes in the supply chain risk literature (Assessing Supply Chain Risk; Creating Resiliency by Managing Supply Chain Risk), as well as provide new insights into the developing areas of inquiry and contexts in supply chain risk (Incorporating Relational and Behavior Perspectives; Managing Risk in Sustainable and Innovative Supply Chains). Further, we noticed several chapters proposing new typologies and taxonomies of how we understand supply chain risk, building on the foundation of published research in this field. The concluding section provides some grounded cases and thought pieces to provide insight into actual company practices and current academic thought in supply chain risk.

The book is structured into six main sections reflecting themes emerging from the content of the contributed chapters. These themes are:
  1. 1.

    Assessing Supply Chain Risk—The First Step in Managing Supply Chain Risk

  2. 2.

    Creating Resiliency by Managing Supply Chain Risk

  3. 3.

    Incorporating Relational and Behavioral Perspectives

  4. 4.

    Managing Risk in Sustainable and Innovative Supply Chains

  5. 5.

    Emerging Typologies and Taxonomies

  6. 6.

    Grounding Our Understanding of Supply Chain Risk: Cases and Observations


3.1 Assessing Supply Chain Risk—The First Step in Managing Supply Chain Risk

Numerous models and processes have been published describing the importance of assessing supply chain risk exposure in order to provide insight as to how to best manage risk (Zsidisin et al. 2000, 2004; Norrman and Jansson 2004; Jüttner et al. 2003; Tummala and Schoenherr 2011). The continued growth of computing power and data storage capabilities, the development of advanced data analytic techniques, and the growth of third party supply chain risk management consultants and software have provided scholars and practitioners an unprecedented opportunity for better assessing risk in the supply chain. The following chapters reflect these increased capabilities for assessing supply chain risk.

Chapter  2—Assessing the Vulnerability of Supply Chains: Advances from Engineering Systems—authored by Sigurd S. Pettersen and Bjørn Egil Asbjørnslett, provides emerging trends and advances from engineering design for assessing supply chain vulnerabilities. Advances discussed in the chapter include epoch-era analysis for structuring of event taxonomies and scenarios, failure mode thinking for low-frequency, high-impact (LFHI) events, and design structure matrices and axiomatic design principles for function–form mapping in the supply chain.

In Chap.  3—Using Scenario Planning to Supplement Supply Chain Risk Assessments—Cliff Thomas and Thomas Chermack propose the use of scenario planning as a supplement to traditional supply chain risk assessment paradigms and practices. The chapter provides evidence and arguments for scenario planning as a viable approach for raising and enhancing the level of supply chain risk awareness among decision-makers.

Chapter  4—Decision Support Systems and Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain Risk Management—authored by George Baryannis, Samir Dani, Sahar Validi, and Grigoris Antoniou, argues the importance of decision support systems for analyzing and subsequently managing supply chain risk. The chapter first provides an overview of the different operations research techniques and methodologies for decision-making associated with managing risk, focusing on multiple-criteria decision analysis methods and mathematical programming. Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, such as Petri nets, multi-agent systems, automated reasoning and machine learning, are also applied for making decisions associated with supply chain risk.

The final chapter in this section, in Chap.  5—Resilience Assessment in Complex Supply Networks—authors Mustafa Güller and Michael Henke define and formalize a method for a holistic resilience assessment in complex supply networks. Their assessment methodology incorporates supply chain design, supplier related factors, relational competencies, and physical and capital resources for calculating a quantitative rating of supply chain resilience.

3.2 Creating Resiliency by Managing Supply Chain Risk

Supply chain resilience has been defined by as Svensson (2002) as “unexpected deviations from the norm and their negative consequences.” Resiliency from disruptions, significant price valuations, and other forms of risk have been at the forefront as a critical outcome from reducing vulnerability and managing risk (Pettit et al. 2010).

The section begins with Chap.  6—What Value for Whom in Risk Management?—A Multi-value Perspective on Risk Management in an Engineering Project Supply Chain—authored by Pelle Willumsen, Josef Oehmen, Monica Rossi, and Torgeir Welo. This chapter presents a conceptual model for developing supply chain risk management activities that are based on the value perspectives of key stakeholder groups in a customer–supplier relationship. The authors discovered that taking into account stakeholder value propositions when designing supply chain risk management processes is beneficial for identifying conflicting value profiles and leveraging shared ones, and hence, enabling the customization of these processes to ensure value from multiple perspectives.

Chapter  7—Risk Management of Critical Logistical Infrastructures: Securing the Basis for Effective and Efficient Supply Chains—authored by Michael Huth and Sascha Düerkop, develops a risk evaluation approach for critical logistics infrastructures. The evaluation considers how the limitation or breakdown of any element of a logistics network influences all supply chains using the network. By calculating risk-induced cost for the supply chains, implications of risk can be quantified and used as a basis for decision-making.

Chapter  8—Procedure Model for Supply Chain Digitalization Scenarios for a Data-Driven Supply Chain Risk Management—written by Florian Schlüter, presents a process model supporting management in developing and assessing supply chain process-oriented digitalization scenarios with a focus on risk prevention and reduction. Decision-makers can decide between different maturity stages for managing supply chain risk and develop digitalization scenarios in workshops supported by domain mapping matrices to structure the process

Chapter  9—Preparing for the Worst, authored by Yossi Sheffi—provides an updated perspective from his prior work in how companies are now managing supply chain risk. The chapter illustrates four common categories of investment, each of which can be looked upon as a real option, companies make in preparation for disruptions in supply or surges in demand. The categories are investments in redundancy (e.g., inventory), flexibility (i.e., of facilities and processes), emergency operation centers (EOC), and business continuity planning (BCP).

The second section concludes with Chap.  10—The Future of Resilient Supply Chains—contributed by Mattia Donadoni, Sinéad Roden, Kirstin Scholten, Mark Stevenson, Federico Caniato, Dirk Pieter van Donk, and Andreas Wieland. Their chapter investigates what managers understand as disruptions and resilience and how they measure these constructs. Practitioners focus on operational risks or challenges that occur on a daily basis (low impact, high probability) rather than focus on potentially more impactful disruptions with wider spread consequences (high impact, low probability). Further, they may be reluctant to dedicate resources for pursuing strategies enhancing resilience if they are not able to prove the return or benefits that they will obtain in the long term.

3.3 Incorporating Relational and Behavioral Perspectives

It can be argued that some of the initial research in supply chain risk focused on the effects of risk at the firm level, and oriented toward organizational processes and systems to prevent or mitigate the effects of risk on firm performance. However, there is also the human element which becomes an important factor in going beyond processes themselves and beginning to understand the relational and behavioral elements influencing supply chain risk exposure, as well as how it is viewed and managed. This section looks at those relational and behavioral perspectives from varying units of analysis, including consortiums, teams and individual leaders and decision-makers.

The section begins with Chap.  11—Can Buyer Consortiums Improve Supplier Compliance?—authored by Felipe Caro, Prashant Chatapalli, Kumar Rajaram, and Christopher S. Tang. This chapter discusses the use of joint audit mechanisms done by buyer consortiums when suppliers fail to comply with environmental or safety regulations. Findings from their research suggest a joint audit mechanism is beneficial by increasing supplier compliance levels, and can increase profits when the audit cost is below a certain threshold.

Chapter  12—Leadership in Risky Supply Chains—written by Christopher R. Paparone and George L. Topic Jr., provides insight into how adaptive leaders exercise “creative deviance” and seeks to influence others in the chain to diverge from their habitualized frames of reference through divergence and value patterning when encountering risk in the supply chain. However, while adaptive leadership becomes a mitigation strategy for confusingly novel situations, there are also social risks for supply chain innovators.

In Chap.  13—Malicious Supply Chain Risk: A Literature Review and Future Directions—Scott DuHadway and Steven Carnovale examine intentional disruptions arising from deliberate actions that can negatively affect supply chain operations and performance. In order to manage this risk, the authors provide a framework encapsulating a three-pronged approach centered on (1) avoiding and detecting, (2) mitigating the impact of, and (3) recovering from this unique type of supply chain risk.

The section concludes with Chap.  14—A Behavioral View of Supply Chain Risk Management—written Mehrnoush Sarafan, Brian Squire and Emma Brandon-Jones. This chapter questions the implicit assumptions of rational decision-making, consistent preferences, and optimal choice in prior supply chain risk research, and argues from other lines of research that environmental uncertainty and managerial illusions create deviations from rational decision-making. Further, some of these studies have found managers may have individual goals not related to risk and cost minimization but instead reflect their risk preferences, status-seeking, or the history of their relationships with exchange partners. This chapter draws from advances in behavioral research to highlight the importance of incorporating such factors into supply chain risk management models.

3.4 Managing Risk in Sustainable and Innovative Supply Chains

There have been several topics in supply chain management practice and research which have been receiving increasing attention during the last two decades. First, it can be argued that the study of sustainability in supply chain management has received as much, or maybe even more attention in research agendas during the last twenty years. Although a few earlier studies have made mention of sustainability as a source of risk (Zsidisin 2003), it has only been during the last few years we have seen a convergence of sustainability and supply chain risk literatures. The first two chapters of this section focus on sustainability with regard to supply chain risk.

Innovation is likewise a critical business process and has received extensive attention in the literature in the Marketing and Operations Management literatures. However, there appears to be limited knowledge of innovation from a supply chain perspective, especially with regard to risk. Innovation can be argued as serving as an enabler for creating more efficient and effective supply chains, to include reducing the likelihood of disruptions, but also potentially as a cause of supply chain risk. The latter two of the chapters focus on the linkage between innovation and managing supply chain risk.

In Chap.  15—Resilience and Sustainability in Supply Chains—Holmes E. Miller and Kurt J. Engemann present an overview of issues regarding supply chain resilience and sustainability, and how the two interact. The resilience-sustainability relationship is presented with possible cost/benefit categories, analogous to the total cost of quality categories: operational, compliance, direct, and indirect. These categories can serve as a basis for informing decision-makers when seeking to make decisions regarding resilience–sustainability strategies.

Chapter  16—Sustainability Risk Management in Supply Chain—authored by Jukka Hallikas, Katrina Lintukangas, and Daniela Grudinschi, investigates practices for implementing and assuring responsibility in the purchasing and supply chain and the role of risk management in assuring that responsibility. These practices, based on case study observations, identify and prioritize the most important sustainability issues and implement the actions required to manage risk during the procurement process phases of strategic planning, assessing and selecting suppliers, contracting, monitoring and measuring, developing and assessing supply, and cooperating and networking

Focusing on innovation and risk, in Chap.  17—The Relationship Between Firm Resilience to Supply Chain Disruptions and Firm Innovation—Mahour M. Parast, Sima Sabahi and Masoud Kamalahmadi discuss the relationship between supply chain disruption risk management and innovation management and examine whether a firm’s investment in innovation can improve the firm’s resilience to supply chain disruption. Findings from a literature review suggest leadership, information sharing, and collaboration as practices that improve both firm innovation and firm resilience from supply chain disruptions.

Chapter  18—Supply Chain Virtualization: Facilitating Agent Trust Utilizing Blockchain Technology—authored by Kane Smith and Gurpreet Dhillon, discuss the use of blockchain technology as a mechanism for facilitating trust between various supply chain agents. This innovation gives supply chain entities within the blockchain a copy of the information record, which cannot be altered without their consent, as well as serves as a secure method of encryption providing protection against tampering from malicious sources and security of the information contained on the chain.

3.5 Emerging Typologies and Taxonomies

Typologies and taxonomies of supply chain risk and supply chain risk management processes started to emerge approximately fifteen to twenty years ago (Mitchell 1995; Svensson 2000; Zsidisin et al. 2000; Jüttner et al. 2003; Zsidisin 2003; Zsidisin and Ellram 2003; Tang et al. 2006; Henke 2009). The sheer growth in the number of publications since then examining different facets of supply chain risk has allowed for creating approaches for categorizing the studies themselves, similar to a meta-analysis of published studies. These “studies of studies” are arguably a step toward consolidating our understanding of supply chain risk and its many facets. The three chapters in this section provide insight into the most current thought of classifying supply chain risk.

This section begins with Chap.  19—Differentiating Between Supply and Supplier Risk for Better Supply Chain Risk Management by Sudipa Sarker. In this chapter, the author uses both prior studies as well as case studies of firms to discern the differences in units of analysis of where risk stems from in the upstream supply chain.

Chapter  20—Categorizing Supply Chain Risks: Review, Integrated Typology and Future Research—written by Mihalis Louis and Mark Pagell, argues that firms looking to guarantee their long-term survival need to successfully identify risk in their supply chain. This chapter examines the types of risk in the supply chain by reviewing the various typologies proposed in the SCRM literature since 2000 using the Systematic Network Analysis method. The results of the analysis propose a new typology of supply chain risk that is both inclusive and parsimonious.

The final chapter of this section, Chap.  21—The Impact of Supply Chain Disruptions on Organizational Performance: A Literature Review—by Mahour M. Parast and Mansoor Shekarian, identifies different conceptualizations and theorizations of supply chain disruptions in order to understand how they affect organizational performance. The authors argue organizational capabilities of flexibility, agility, collaboration, and redundancy serve as resilience enhancers that can improve an organizational response to supply chain disruptions.

3.6 Grounding Our Understanding of Supply Chain Risk: Cases and Observations

The final section of the book starts with providing three chapters of illustrative cases in assessing and managing supply chain risk. The last two chapters are best described as thought pieces by providing new insights and applications for our understanding of supply chain risk.

First, in Chap.  22—The Management of Disruption Supply Risk at Vestas Wind Systems—Chris Ellegaard and Anne Høj Schibsbye propose a flexible supply risk management framework for helping managers mitigate disruption risk. The case study, gleaned from analyzing the purchases of gearboxes, towers, and electronics, shows how different sets of strategies are required for the successful mitigation of risk. Effective disruption mitigation may require different strategies depending on the type of supply and the varied drivers causing the disruption.

In Chap.  23—Foreign Exchange Risk Mitigation Strategies in Global Sourcing: The Case of Vortice SPA—the authors Barbara Gaudenzi, Roberta Pellegrino, George A. Zsidisin and Claudio Bruggi examine supply chain approaches at Vortice SPA for mitigating FX risk. This case study of a small- and medium-sized enterprise describes how the firm utilizes a mix of financing and contracting strategies to reduce the detrimental financial effects associated with currency rate fluctuations.

In the third chapter of this section, Chap.  24—The Paradox of Risk Management: A Supply Management Practice Perspective by Sudipa Sarker—describes how different risks are managed using a multitude of methods during diverse activities within the supply management process by different personnel positioned at various hierarchical levels of the organization.

In Chap.  25—Risk in Complex Supply Chains, Networks and Systems—Christine Mary Harland examines issues and challenges facing complex interorganisational networks and systems that straddle public and private sectors, and explore risks and mitigation specific to these types of network. These examples are used to form an initial conceptual framework for future empirical research.

The concluding Chap.  26—Surfing the Tides of Political Tumult: Supply Chain Risk Management in an Age of Governmental Turbulence—by Michael E. Smith provides an overview of political strategy for SCRM and how competencies can be developed to help organizations deal with the uncertainties inherent in political turbulence. Three sources of risk: (1) acts of government commission, (2) acts of government omission, and (3) political acts of players outside of government, create a challenging environment in which organizations must attempt to identify, understand, and seek to develop responses adequate for its management.

4 Conclusions

As long as we will have businesses, organizations, and supply chains, we will likewise have risk associated with the various product, information, and financial flows within and among these entities. The study of risk in the supply chain has taken on greater importance as firms continually improve their processes and capabilities in meeting ever-increasing demands and requirements from customers. Our goal in Revisiting Supply Chain Risk is to provide you, the reader, current research and philosophical thought in supply chain risk, and where we are heading as a discipline in the future. A significant part of this future may well lie in the capabilities the fourth industrial revolution may serve in creating more robust SCRM processes. We hope the following chapters achieve this goal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Supply Chain Management and AnalyticsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.TU Dortmund University, Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IMLDortmundGermany

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