Managing at the intersection between Innovation and supply chain management

Until recently research streams on Innovation and New Product Development, and Supply Chain Management have been considered together, with researchers devoting their attention to the issue of how to manage the complex decisions at the intersection between SCM and innovation.

For example, although NPD-related scientific literature recommends looking ahead at what problems may occur during supply, manufacturing and assembly to reduce delays in production and to avoid additional costs, and SCM literature provides guidelines on the design and management of supply chains given a specific product design, there are still various research topics to be investigated more intensively.

These include:

  • alignment of product features and supply chain design
  • integration of NPD and SCM processes
  • role of supply chain innovation to foster business model innovation.

The topic is also extremely relevant in those industries where products are engineered to order, i.e. those industries where design activities have to be performed with SCM activities after customer order’s arrival, such as construction and tooling machines.

Margherita Pero

Margherita Pero

We asked Margherita Pero, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering DIG, Politecnico di Milano,  co-chair for this track at the R&D Management Conference for her views.

 1. What do you think are the most disruptive influences impacting developments in your track?

Since we are looking at the interface between innovation and supply chain management, influences can arrive from both sides. So, we would say that disruptive elements include: innovations in product, as well as digitisation, data analytics and rise of innovative business models along the supply chain. Moreover, markets requirements for both customisation and speed at the same time can become big challenges for innovation and supply chain managers.

2. Can you describe some recent findings in this area that are of interest to you personally? 

Supply chain innovations can drive business model innovations and vice versa.  Being able to deliver a customised product in a short time frame requires careful management of interdependencies along the design and supply chain, in a context where more and more companies are required to participate in design and supply chain activities.

3. If someone was new to this topic what would you suggest they read to get a quick overview of the issues? 

Fischer (1997) What is the right supply chain for your product? Harvard business review 75, 105-117;

Fine (1998) Clockspeed: winning industry control in the age of temporary advantage

Pero/Abdelkafi/Sianesi/Blecker (2010) A framework for the Alignment of New Product Development and Supply Chains, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 115-128;

Abdelkafi/Pero (2018, Forthcoming) Supply Chain Innovation-Driven Business Models – Exploratory Analysis and Implications for Management. Business Process Management Journal

Proponents for track : Margherita Pero and Nizar Abdelkafi

For more information about the R&D Management Conference.