Symposium on Innovations and Sustainability

22-23 August 2017

Prof. Luk N. Van Wassenhove, INSEAD

The Henry Ford Chaired Professor in Manufacturing; Academic Director, INSEAD Humanitarian Research Group

Pushing the Boundaries of Traditional Operations Management: Closed-Loop Supply Chains and Humanitarian Operations

Both Closed-Loop Supply Chains (CLSCs) and Humanitarian Operations (HOs) are relatively new research areas in the discipline of Operations Management which traditionally covers subjects like production and inventory management, supply chains, warehousing and transportation, and the like. Most of what we call Operations Management has been developed for commercial operations in a relatively well-defined and controlled forward supply chain in which products are assembled and then delivered to customers.

I have been very privileged to be one of the pioneers in two relatively new and different research areas. In Closed-Loop Supply Chains products are returned when customers no longer need them, and given a new life after remanufacturing. These supply chains are therefore no longer linear from producer to customer but rather circular or closed-loop in nature. In Humanitarian Operations the context is far from being well-defined and controlled, especially in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster like an earthquake. These supply chains are highly uncertain, need to be agile and typically face severe resource constraints. Studying Closed-Loop Supply Chains and Humanitarian Operations requires one to push the boundaries of traditional Operations Management, exploring new insights, methods and frameworks which are adapted to these different contexts. This can contribute to Sustainability in the sense of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but also to the relevance and impact of Operations Management, i.e. its sustainability as a discipline.

About the speaker:

Professor Van Wassenhove's research and teaching are concerned with operational excellence, supply chain management, quality, continual improvement and learning. His recent research focus is on closed-loop supply chains (product take-back and end-of-life issues) and on disaster management (humanitarian logistics). He is senior editor for Manufacturing and Service Operations Management and departmental editor for Production and Operations Management. He publishes regularly in Management Science, Production and Operations Management, and many other academic as well as management journals (like Harvard Business Review, and California Management Review). He is the author of many award-winning teaching cases and regularly consults for major international corporations. In 2005, Professor Van Wassenhove was elected Fellow of the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS). In 2006, he was the recipient of the EURO Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement. In 2009 he was elected Distinguished Fellow of the Manufacturing and Services Operations Management Society (MSOM), and received the Lifetime Achievement Faculty Pioneer Award from the European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) and the Aspen Institute. In 2013 he became Honorary Fellow of the European Operations Management Association (EUROMA). He is a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Sciences. Before joining INSEAD he was on the faculty at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. At INSEAD he holds the Henry Ford Chair of Manufacturing. He created the INSEAD Social Innovation Centre and acted as academic director until September 2010. He currently leads INSEAD’s Humanitarian Research Group.''