Center History

The idea for the Center for Supply Networks stems from a paper written by W. P. Carey Supply Chain Management Professors Thomas Choi and Kevin Dooley. The paper framed supply networks as complex adaptive systems and was published in 2001 in the Journal of Operations Management.
Choi and Dooley eventually realized that the paper was being noticed by young scholars who were trying to extend it into their doctoral dissertations and further empirical and analytical studies.

The energy, interest and ideas of these scholars helped the authors realize that academia was leading the industry in exploring a vital business research topic in contrast to the way that business academia often trails practice.

Birth of the Center

In March 2007, Choi and Dooley invited a group of interested supply chain scholars to meet in Tempe to share their research agendas. Attending the meeting were Jamison Day (University of Houston), David Dilts (Vanderbilt), Anand Nair (University of South Carolina), Surya Pathak (Vanderbilt) and William Sawaya (Cornell). The major outcome of the meeting was the formation of an informal research group called Complex Adaptive Supply Networks.

In the spring of 2008, Choi and Dooley proposed the formation of the Center for Supply Networks to W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. He encouraged and stimulated the formation of the center with seed money of $25,000. The center was launched in April 2009.

Key Activities to Date

  • Some of the members drafted a position paper that focused on the evolution of the application of complex adaptive systems theory in the field of supply chain management. The paper was published in December 2007 in Decision Sciences Journal.
  • The CaSN members have been organizing sessions on the topic of supply networks and complex adaptive systems in key conferences such as those held by the Decision Sciences Institute, the Production and Operations Management Society and the Academy of Management.
  • There are four on-going projects—(1) sustainable supply networks (project leader: Dooley), (2) co-opetitive supply networks (project leader: Johnston), (3) cliques in supply networks (project leader: Sawaya), and (4) disaster readiness and network performance measures (project leader: Day).
  • Choi and Dooley guest-edited a special issue for the Journal of Supply Chain Management on "Supply Networks: Theories and Models," which was published in July 2009.
  • CaSN is awarded its first grant of $316,205 from the National Science Foundation for a multi-year study on the Supply Network Design and Product Environmental Performance research project.