Developing a Model for a Supply Chain Management Major in a United States University in the New Millennium

Article excerpt

With significant growth in supply chain activities in manufacturing and other industries in the United States, there has been a tremendous opportunity for preparing our university students into a Supply Chain Management (SCM) career path in this new millennium. This paper presents a model for developing a syllabus for a Supply Chain Management (SCM) course, and for developing a major prog ram in Supply Chain Management (SCM) to prepare students for meeting the needs and challenges of Supply Chain Management career path of manufacturing and service industries in the United States in this new millennium

Introduction

With significant growth in supply chain activities in manufacturing and other industries in the United States, there has been a tremendous need for preparing our university students into a Supply Chain Management (SCM) career path in this new millennium. Unfortunately, very few universities have a program in Supply Chain Management, and only a handful of universities has a Production/Operations Management major with a supply chain management course. Consequently, manufacturing and other industries in the United States have been facing a critical shortage of personnel in SCM areas, and unless efforts are made for launching some viable programs in SCM areas in American universities for preparing our university students in a SCM career path, our manufacturing and other industries may be heading towards a crisis.

Managers in nearly every industry have begun to realize that competition in this new millennium is no longer be a company against another company, but one supply chain against another supply chain.(13) This has been generating increasing needs for supply chain management practitioners, and giving birth to an entire industry of supply chain consulting companies. Demand for supply chain expertise has been growing exponentially in this decade. On the contrary, as late as 1995, a few business or engineering schools in the U.S. had courses dedicated to supply chain management. Currently, however, nearly every top business and engineering school has at least one dedicated course, and many more have integrated supply chain topics into a core POM course (20). Many schools of management and engineering are also adopting integrated curricula that prepare students to design and manage the resulting complex web of materials and information flows in global supply chains (21).

Evolution of Supply Chain Management Course

In April, 1995 a panel of academics gathered at the Spring INFORMS meeting to discuss the emerging interest in supply chain management (20). At that time, only a handful of universities taught a course with the title "Supply Chain Management," Of course, some were teaching some of the supply chain concepts in courses under the label "logistics" or "operations management." Currently, however, many top business schools and some engineering programs in the United States have a course entitled "Supply Chain Management" and more are added each year. In nearly all of the top management programs, the core operations management course has been augmented with significant content on supply chains management concepts (28).

Many skeptics would argue that this rush to change curriculum was little more than a repackaging of topics long covered in operations management such as logistics, inventory control, and facility location (27). Similar to "quality control" in the 1970s and "lean manufacturing" in the 1980s, "supply chain management" had been the popular management topic of the late 1990s. But a closer look at both business practices and MBA programs reveals stronger forces at work creating an environment ready for supply chain management concepts and integration may be the key unifying force behind the supply chain curriculum and practice (11). Although, industrial dynamics researchers like Jay Forester (1958) have maintained that supply chains should be viewed as an integrated system, and the practitioners of SCM might have long been interested in integration, due to lack of availability of information technology, it was impossible to implement "systems-oriented" approach until the recent explosion of information technology (21 ). …