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Disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the volcanic ash cloud that disrupted international airplane flights for several days in 2010 have highlighted the need for companies to better prepare for potential risks to their supply chains. A number of groups are working to create a common framework to help firms accomplish this, but experts note that the increasingly complex nature of the modern supply chain -- and a tendency by many companies to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to disasters -- are hindering the effort.
From: February 27, 2013
It sounds like a simple, straightforward proposition: Scientists should disclose how they collect and analyze the data supporting their scientific publications. Yet as Wharton professors Joseph Simmons and Uri Simonsohn and UC Berkeley colleague Leif Nelson point out in a recent research paper, too much emphasis is placed on getting research results published in respectable journals, without worrying enough about whether the evidence backs up those findings. The result: Even solid research that can lead to new insights about everything from investment behavior to product marketing to consumer psychology is called into question.
From: June 20, 2012
Making sense of Philadelphia's City Council district map resulting from the 2000 Census is a head-scratching exercise, due in part to extensive, politically motivated gerrymandering. Yet Wharton professor Steven O. Kimbrough and a team of researchers managed to tackle the problem by using a genetic algorithm that mimics natural selection to "breed" endless variations of solutions. Their method can be applied to many other challenges -- from mapping out fire districts and streamlining sales regions to collecting trash and designing distribution systems.
From: September 28, 2011
In today's economy, retailers are hard pressed to increase revenues. Among the biggest challenges they face is matching supply with demand. In The New Science of Retailing: How Analytics Are Transforming the Supply Chain and Improving Performance
, Wharton professor Marshall Fisher and co-author Ananth Raman argue that retailers have the data they need to manage supply chains more efficiently and increase sales and profits. Knowledge@Wharton spoke with Fisher about what types of data are most important for retailers to collect, how they can use this information to identify home-run products and why the retailing industry might be missing as much as one-third of potential sales.
From: August 17, 2011
As retailers face greater pressure to sell more products, expand into new markets and streamline production, the fashion industry is feeling the heat. Designer Vera Wang, for example, is trying to turn her business into one that is widely known and
widely worn. William Fung, managing director of Hong Kong-based trading company Li & Fung, is trying to stay ahead of new complexity in the production process. Both Wang and Fung discussed ongoing challenges in the fashion industry during a recent presentation at Wharton.
From: April 13, 2011
Whether a company operates in a high-growth or slow-growth market, lean products and systems are a must. They allow companies in low-growth markets to respond quickly to customer needs, and in high-growth markets they keep costs down while supporting customization and rapid increases in output when needed. Another step up in efficiency: shared production platforms that allow high-end and low-end products to be built at the same facility -- sometimes even on the same assembly line. But all of these considerations -- including geographic location and labor costs -- must be balanced against logistical costs and risks. Customers want lower cost and
From: February 10, 2011
Companies must create adaptable supply chains in a two-speed world that work for both slow- and fast-growing markets -- without sacrificing sales volumes or margins. In high-growth emerging economies, this often means creating high volumes of low-cost -- and sometimes low-margin -- products, and distributing them at the lowest possible cost. In low-growth developed economies, supply chains must enhance efforts to defend or steal market share through better and faster innovation, and exceptional service.
From: January 26, 2011
Has outsourcing run its course in the wake of the recession and complaints from U.S. politicians about stubbornly high jobless rates? Exports from emerging markets fell markedly in 2009, and more companies are thinking harder about the unknowns of going abroad. But the cost savings in Asia are still highly attractive to multinationals, and export levels went up again in 2010. What's more, China's workforce is gearing up to manufacture an ever-wider range of products.
From: January 11, 2011
Errors and omissions of the most ordinary and preventable kind kill thousands of patients every year in hospitals throughout the developed and developing worlds. A simple solution exists to this problem, argues Atul Gawande in his most recent book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.
A surgeon and a journalist, Gawande shows just how effective checklists can be to reduce the damage caused by human fallibility in industries including medicine, construction, aviation and others where the work environment depends on complicated processes, technology and equipment. So why aren't checklists used in every operating room and ICU? The answer is simple: In the existing medical establishment, too many doctors don't like to be told what to do. Add one more box to the checklist -- the need for cultural change.
From: June 11, 2010
Toyota's legendary lean production system emerged after World War II and transformed the auto industry. Since then, lean principles have moved into every area of an organization and every industry. One Wharton professor remembers trying to talk with hospitals about lean initiatives several years ago. "They thought I was evil. They said, 'We're doctors. We help people. We are not Toyota!' Now these same institutions have chief medical officers saying, 'We want to run this place like Toyota!'"
From: November 11, 2009
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