Trendspotting is a lovely sport. In research you can look at conference tracks, topics of current calls for papers, conduct your own survey on trends, or have a glance on which articles are downloaded the most. Downloads are interesting as they reveal not only what is read but implicitly, which topics academics currently work on. Let’s see the (convenience sample of) Emerald statistics for IJLM, IJPDLM and SCM:IJ. So here’s the what is hot in terms of being most downloaded in the first quarter of 2009 (compared to previous such lists from 2008). “Hotties” are the articles that are new or got into the spotlight in 2009, “classics” are the ones that were already in the spotlight in 2008 and continue to be there.
1. Supply chain integration (and collaboration). An outstanding paper award just went to such a topic, to Fabbe-Costes and Jahre (2008) article on SC integration (congrats!). Another outstanding hottie is Pålsson & Johansson’s (2009) SC integration through labelling that received most downloads ever within the first 6 months after publication (and has only been published in 2009, no 6 months have gone yet). Many of the classics look at characteristics of SCM and the supply chain management framework, such as Croxton et al.’s (2001) SC processes (framework), Cooper et al. (1997): SCM framework, Cooper & Ellram (1993): characteristics of SCM, Power (2005): SC integration, Fawcett et al. (2008): SC integration, New (1997) scope of SCM and collaboration such as Barratt’s (2004) SC collaboration andSandberg’s (2007) logistics collaboration.
2. Corporate social responsibility, ethics, and green/reverse supply chains (indeed moving towards more CSR and ethics focus). With hotties such as Hanafi et al. (2008) as well as van Hoek (1999) on reverse logistics, Wikner & Tang (2008) on closed-loop SC, and Andersen & Skjoett-Larsen (2009) moving towards CSR, and Svensson & Bååth (2008) towards SC ethics. The classics here are Carter & Rogers’ (2008) framework for sustainable SCM, Wu & Dunn (1995) environmentally responsible logistics, and Markley & Davis’ (1997) sustainable SCM.
3. Supply chain risk management. The hotties (new interest) are articles such as Christopher & Lee (2004) on SC risk mitigation, Khan et al. (2008) product design and SC risk, Khan & Burnes (2007) on SC risk. In addition there are a number of steady interest articles (the “classics”) on this topic such as Norrman & Jansson (2004): SC risk management at Ericsson, Manuj & Mentzer (2008) and Jüttner (2005) and Finch (2004) on SC risk management in general.
4. Lean and agile supply chains. Agility is in fashio, or at least in the fashion industry, says Masson et al. (2007). Another hottie is Christopher & Towill’s (2001) article on agility. Classics are Jones et al.’s (1997) lean logistics, and Christopher & Towill (2000) lean and agile supply chains.
5. E-commerce. Hotties such as Cho et al.’s (2008) logistics capability in e-commerce, Giménez & Lourenço (2008): e-commerce, classics: Puschmann & Alt (2005) e-procurement, Lewis et al. (2005): internet.
6. RFID. Pålsson & Johansson’s (2009) article also falls into this category. Classics are Spekman & Sweeney (2007), Attaran (2007) and Vijayaraman & Osyk (2006).
Other topics with more interest:
(a) Value chain analysis. Hotties: Barber (2008), Classics: Taylor (2005)
(b) Humanitarian logistics. Hotties: Kovács and Spens (2007), Oloruntoba & Gray (2006). No classics (i.e. a very “hot topic”).
(c) Demand management. Hotties: Walters (2008). Classics: Walters (2006). (a one-man show?)
(d) Logistics outsourcing. Classics: Razzaque & Sheng (1998), Kremic et al. (2006). No hotties, though (i.e. no newcomers, no renewed interest articles).
(e) Warehousing and inventory management. Hotties: Williams & Tokar’s (2008) inventory management, Claassen et al. (2008) VMI. Classics: Nynke Faber et al. (2002) warehouse complexity, Baker (2007) inventory mgmt
(f) Transportation. Hotties: Meixell & Norbis (2008): transport mode selection, Mangan et al. (2008): port-centric logistics. Classics: Selviaridis & Spring (2007): TPL
(g) Implementation of SCM. Classics: Sridharan et al. (2005) SC implementation, Wong et al. (2005) SC toy practice. Interestingly, no hotties.
Other hotties on random topics. Notably, these are unique articles that triggered a lot of interest among readers. These are Fernie & Grant’s (2008) on-shelf availability, Shook et al.’s (2009): strategic sourcing (another breakthrough article looking at downloads of the first 6 months), and Green et al.’s (2008) logistics performance.
Other classics. Mangan et al. (2004): qualitative and quantitative methods, Sachan & Datta (2005)’s general literature review, Christopher et al. (2006) taxonomy of SC strategies, Cox (1999): power.
Here’s the trend. Integration, CSR, risk management, even humanitarian logistics were already hot topics the last time we looked at them. Optimisation doesn’t make the list any more – though that can be due to the convenience sample of these very journals. The same goes for customisation and modularisation, and supply chain design. “Global” this and that has been dropped. Then again, what in supply chain management is local only?