Managment development and supply chain manager of the future

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Management Development and the Supply Chain Manager of the Future
JOHN MANGAN University of Hull, England and MARTIN CHRISTOPHER Cranfield University, England ___________________________________________________________

With the growing acceptance of logistics and supply chain management as critical business concerns, there is an emerging realisation that more investment is needed to developappropriate managerial skills and competencies. This paper explores the challenges for management development that arise as organisations seek to bridge the gap between current capabilities and those required for future success. The results of an exploratory research programme are summarised and, drawing on these findings, a tentative skills profile for the logistics and supply chain manager of thefuture is advanced.

A key feature of the current business environment is the idea that supply chains compete, not companies (Christopher, 1992). Managing supply chains effectively is a complex and challenging task, as a result of the continuing trends of expanding product variety, short product life cycles, increased outsourcing, globalization of businesses, and continuous advances ininformation technology (Lee, 2002). In recent years supply chain management (SCM) has grown in acceptance: ‘… the area that was once considered to be only of minor concern to managers is now at the forefront of business planning. The discipline that had a difficult time getting the attention of senior managers in firms now has representatives in the top echelons of most organisations’ (Lancioni, 2000). Inthis milieu, logistics managers and supply chain managers play a pivotal role in ensuring continued firm competitiveness and success. This paper is concerned with both logistics managers and supply chain managers. Definitional, and practical, differences exist between logistics and supply chain management, and while the terms are often used interchangeably, they are distinct (Cooper et.al, 1997).Logistics can be defined as the planning and management of physical and information flows through an organisation, whereas supply chain management extends this concept into the wider network of the organisations suppliers and customers. As such, supply chain managers not only need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to manage logistics but also they must be relationship managers. Whilstrecognising that logistics and supply chain management can be, and often are, managed separately we argue that at this early stage in the acceptance and implementation of these ideas the reality is that they tend to be managed conjointly. For this reason we will use the label ‘supply chain manager’ as a generic descriptor.

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THE CURRENT CHARACTERISTICS AND ROLE OF SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGERSCurrently supply chain managers are a quite varied group and to an extent reflect the disparate origins of the subject in terms of their functional background - they often come into a logistics / supply chain role from other areas such as transportation, procurement, IT, finance, etc. Indeed it is only in recent years, with the advent of focused undergraduate courses in logistics and SCM, that peopleare coming into the logistics / SCM function directly from University. The annual survey of logistics managers and directors in the US carried out by the Supply Chain Management Research Group at the Ohio State University (LaLonde and Ginter, 2004) gives an insight into the characteristics of the typical supply chain manager; respondents to their 2004 survey were: 93.5% male, 6.5% female; medianage for logistics directors was 43 and for managers was 39; of the survey respondents 89% had a baccalaureate degree, 63% had a masters degree and 18% had professional qualifications (for example APICS); for the respondents who were logistics managers average time worked in logistics was 18.5 years, time with current firm 4.2 years and time in current position 3.7 years. Similar profiles were...
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