Saturday, October 8, 2011

Social Entrepreneur of the Year -- when the Local is Global and Supply Chains

Those of us in operations, whether in operations research and/or operations management, have invested a great deal of time and effort in the study of global supply chains -- focusing on topics from risk management and decision-making under uncertainty, to enhancing efficiency, to disruption management, cost minimization and profit maximization. Our supernetworks group has also worked on capturing the complexity of flows associated with supply chain networks, such as informational, logistical, and financial flows and the impacts of relationships on profits. Applications of supply chains abound since they act as the backbones of the delivery of products (and services) in our Network Economy.

Sustainability and supply chains
has also emerged as an important topic, since by reducing the environmental impacts of the manufacturing, storage, and transportation of products, we all benefit (as do future generations). Hence, sustainability, including corporate social responsibility, has been another supply chain theme.

However, there is another element in supply chains that our models are not (yet) capturing in its full complexity -- and that is the human element.

For example, as supply chains for many of our products extend across our globe, as noted in a recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette (our great local newspaper): multinational companies often face the stark reality that they are supporting exploitive labor systems.

Dan Viederman, the CEO of Verite', a nonprofit organization in Amherst (my town), has been working with multinationals, since 1995, to make globalization more equitable and sustainable for workers around the world.

For his work, he was recently recognized with the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Schwab Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland. As part of this award, he traveled to Dalian, China to take part in the Summer Davos, hosted by the World Economic Forum (that the Schwab Foundation also initiated).

Dan Viederman is also my neighbor and he has graciously agreed to speak in our "Meet the Executive" initiative that the students of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and I began last year.

He will be speaking on his amazing work on November 18, 2011 in Room 210 at the Isenberg School at UMass Amherst at 11AM. More details will follow. This is a talk that should not be missed.