Monday, September 6, 2021

Our Research on the Inclusion of Labor into Supply Chain Networks

On this Labor Day, September 6, 2021, I thought it appropriate to write this blogpost in celebration of labor in the pandemic. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has vividly and dramatically shown the importance of keeping our workers healthy and safe in all sectors of the economy from agriculture to healthcare. Many worked tirelessly and some suffered tremendously to ensure that products were produced, transported, and then consumed. Essential workers have become our heroes from farmers and food processors to freight service providers, including truckers, to healthcare workers, educators, and many others. 

During the pandemic, I have been researching how to include labor into supply chain networks so that disruptions could be better quantified, appropriate wages identified, and, even more recently, how firms should invest in enhancing the productivity of their workers through enhanced health and safety measures. This research continues and has become a great passion of mine.

I am pleased that three papers of mine on the inclusion of labor have now been published. The first paper, "Perishable Food Supply Chain Networks with Labor in the Covid-19 Pandemic," was published in the edited volume: Dynamics of Disasters - Impact, Risk, Resilience, and Solutions, I.S. Kotsireas, A. Nagurney, P.M. Pardalos, and A. Tsokas, Editors, Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2021,  pp. 173-193. A prepint of it can be downloaded here.

The second paper, "Optimization of Supply Chain Networks with Inclusion of Labor: Applications to Covid-19 Pandemic Disruptions (2021),  was published in the International Journal of Production Economics, 235, 108080.

This IJPE paper continues to be among the most downloaded from the journal website over the past couple of months, which demonstrates the interest in this topic. This paper focused on the healthcare product supply chains, including PPEs.

The above two papers are optimization models and capture different types of constraints on labor availability. 

My paper, "Supply Chain Game Theory Network Modeling Under Labor Constraints: Applications to the Covid- 19 Pandemic (2021), was published in the European Journal of Operational Research, 293(3), 880-891. It proposes a series of game theory models in which competition for labor by firms is also considered. This is something that we are seeing in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has different sectors suffering from labor shortages. 

I was greatly honored that the Editors of this journal selected this paper of mine for an Editors' Choice Award and the publisher has made the paper available for free from the journal website.

I have also spoken at multiple conferences about this research; most recently, at the MOPTA Conference organized by Lehigh University, which I enjoyed very much. The title of my plenary talk at MOPTA was: "Labor and Supply Chain Networks: Insights from Models Inspired by the COVID-19 Pandemic."

The above papers all acknowledge and thank essential workers. And, today, I extend my gratitude to laborers world-wide.