Themenausschreibungen

Themenausschreibungen

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Aktuelle Themengebiete:

Supply ecosystems

Several shock events have shaped the past centuries and forced our society to adapt and change the way we produce and distribute goods. The distinctive feature of the 21st century is the well-established global supply chain and global economy, which makes it challenging to adapt to new challenges (e.g., pandemics and climate change). These networks are predominantly static in their structures and lack resilience and adaptive capacity. However, the transformations are beginning and require a thorough research investigation to help shape the future supply chain networks. In the long term, supply chains will evolve into supply ecosystems. A supply ecosystem is a mutually dependent system interconnected by a loose foundation of various ecosystem members, including buyers, suppliers, competitors, and other stakeholders. In the current business environment, competition between firms has shifted to competition between supply ecosystems. Thus, building a sustainable ecosystem has become a new source of competitiveness. An ecosystem is the foundation that enables sustainable management for the ecosystem member firms with collaboration and co-evolution within the ecosystem.

Themen:

Research on supply ecosystems is in the emerging stage. Many research questions have not yet been uncovered and decision-makers from industry, politics and academia face major challenges. Based on a Delphi study, this uncertainty should be revealed by creating different future scenarios for the transition of supply chains to supply ecosystems. The master thesis aims to conduct this future-oriented survey and develop a research agenda.

Supply ecosystems are highly flexible and adaptive associations of actors with structural diversity and multifunctional processes. This new structure increases the resilience between the actors of the supply ecosystem. However, at the scientific level, it is unclear how this resilience is achieved and what capabilities underlie such a delivery ecosystem for this purpose? The aim of the bachelor or master thesis is to investigate such supply ecosystems and their underlying resilience capabilities based on empirical data.

Platforms can be used as an interaction channel, allowing companies to collect a significant amount and variety of data that creates opportunities for supply chain visibility and integration. This creates opportunities for the development of new types of supply chain strategies and industrial collaborations. In addition, other stakeholders become part of the ecosystem but do not generate value (e.g. governments, NGOs). The goal of this master’s thesis is to investigate this cooperation and collaboration in supply ecosystems.

The new organizational form of actors in supply ecosystems, as well as underlying technologies (e.g., blockchain, big data, predictive maintenance) will transform sustainability performance. While most of the recent research has been focused on platforms’ configuration, boundaries, actors’ role, and ecosystems’ configurations, other research about the implications of economic, social, and environmental sustainability has been almost neglected. On the one hand, supply ecosystems are expected to increase sustainability. On the other hand, ecosystem mechanisms contradict sustainability mechanisms. The aim of the master thesis is to identify how supply ecosystems can foster the development of sustainable relationships between actors. Under this view, this bachelor or master thesis aims at investigating the economic, social, and environmental impacts of platforms ecosystems as well as the new managerial and organizational implications in terms of sustainability that are derived from this recent phenomenon of platformization.

Being part of a supply ecosystem – whether leader or partner – also means adapting the business model. However, the strategic reconfiguration of business models is associated with many difficulties which need to be overcome, such as: (1) identifying change needs, (2) overcoming inertia, (3) accepting new structures and choosing adequate approaches to renovation. The aim of this master thesis is to uncover these difficulties and identify possible strategies to solve them.

Ethics and morality in the context of digital transformation in operations management

Ziel dieses Themenbereichs ist die Untersuchung der Vereinbarkeit von strategischen Entscheidungen im Rahmen der digitalen Transformation mit den moralisch-ethischen Werten der Mitarbeiter im Operations Management. Ethik hinterfragt dabei die Gründe, auf welchen moralische Aussagen getätigt werden. Im Fokus der Analysen stehen die individuellen Mitarbeiter und deren ethische Akzeptanz, welche in einem Zielkonflikt mit anderen Interessen eines Unternehmens z. B. der finanziellen Performance stehen kann (Vial, 2019). Dabei spielt das Verständnis von Operations Management eine zentrale Rolle, da dieses immer noch weitgehend auf dem des Industriezeitalters beruht (Jacquemin and Berry, 1979) und weitestgehend vernachlässigt wird. Die bestehende Literatur bestätigt, dass ethische Konflikte psychische Belastungen bei Mitarbeiter hervorrufen können, die das organisationale Commitment beeinträchtigen (Wang et al., 2020) und somit eine langfristig erfolgreiche Umsetzung einer angepassten Strategie erschweren. Erste Forschungsansätze mit dem Fokus auf die digitale Transformation spiegeln die hohe Bedeutung des Themas wider, beschränken sich jedoch vorrangig auf die Untersuchung von ethischen Bedenken im Hinblick auf Endkunden (z. B. Verletzung der Privatsphäre, Weiterverkauf von Daten oder Wahlmanipulation durch die Analyse politischer Ideologien) (Fernández-Rovira et al., 2021) oder fokussieren die Veränderungen der Arbeit selbst (Rodriguez‐Lluesma et al., 2020).

Themen:

Multiple Fallstudie zur Analyse des aktuellen Stands der Forschung von moralisch-ethischen Werten im Rahmen der digitalen Transformation der Mitarbeiter im Operations Management.

Die Bearbeitung dieser Themenstellung erfolgt in englischer Sprache!

Umfassende systematische Literaturrecherche zur Analyse des aktuellen Stands der Forschung von moralisch-ethischen Werten im Rahmen der digitalen Transformation der Mitarbeiter im Operations Management.

Die Bearbeitung dieser Themenstellung erfolgt in englischer Sprache!

Food supply chains under agri-food 4.0

Industry 4.0 concepts such as Big Data, Internet-of-Things, Blockchain, satellites, and drones have created opportunities for a huge amount of data collection, visualization, analysis, and decision-making.  Agri-tech 4.0 considers the application of Industry 4.0 concepts to address the current challenges of global agri-food supply chains. These include i.a. the high inefficiency of agri-food supply chains due to a high number of intermediaries and their significant influence on sustainable development goals (Shukla and Jharkharia, 2013; Almasi et al., 2019). Many promising business cases have already been established, however, they are limited to single experiments rather than large scale.

Themen:

Agri-tech 4.0 technologies will change the global food supply chains of the future. However, their impact and large-scale diffusion are still unclear. Through the foresight methodology of a Delphi study, this master thesis aims at examining the future of agri-food supply chains. Based on expert interviews and a literature review, projections on agri-food supply chains of the future should be defined. These should be evaluated through an expert panel of international agri-food supply chain experts.

Due to the increasing digitalization in agri-food supply chain, platforms are a good way to manage all players. They have the potential to reduce waste, put actors on an equal footing, and create partnerships. The aim of the master thesis is to investigate such platforms in agri-food supply chain and to present their characteristics.

Studies estimate that roughly a quarter of worldwide harvested food is wasted throughout all postharvest stages along the supply chain. Facing a growing world population, Agri-food 4.0 technologies represent a fundamental to reduce these supply chain-initiated losses of food. Based on interviews with agri-food supply chain experts, this bachelor/master thesis aims to examine the contribution of technologies to limit post-harvest waste in supply chains. The results should be conceptualised within a framework for decision-makers. Further, areas for future research should be outlined

Supply chain governance in the age of digital transformation

The effective management of inter-organizational relationships across the supply chain is of paramount importance for all firms involved. In a turbulent and constantly evolving business environment, this requires appropriate and adaptive governance mechanisms that promote efficient collaboration within the supply chain while mitigating the risk of opportunistic behavior through means of control. Governance of inter-organizational relationships can generally be contractual and/or relational. At the same time, ICT-based technologies change the way and potentials how companies can interact. Yet, a clear understanding of the impact of Digital Transformation on governance from a supply chain perspective is still lacking. Therefore, the objective of the following theses is to investigate how and why Digital Transformation influences governance of inter-organizational relationships in supply chains.

Themen:

Investments in the new digital technologies may be substantial. Some enterprises may afford them more than others, and therefore acquire – and possibly exploit – the resulting advantages in terms of visibility, control of information, data analytics and automated decisions. Is this further strengthening the bargaining power of such companies? How is governance changing in the relationships between companies regarding their possible different digitalization levels?

Apparently, possible diverging impacts may exist. Increased visibility and traceability of information could reduce or even remove the importance of trust; but will any information be transparent? Will it be acknowledged as trustworthy by all the partners? Will trust, or perhaps “digital trust”, still be necessary?

Crowdsourced delivery on the last mile

Future last-mile logistics is being pushed to its limits through unprecedented challenges. The total worldwide population that is living in cities will increase by more than 60% until 2050 due to urbanisation (United Nations, 2019). Simultaneously, rapid growth in e-commerce volume, particularly accelerated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (United Nations, 2021), is pressuring last-mile logistics. Both developments are leading to an intensification of urban freight, resulting in more negative externalities, such as congestion, noise and carbon emissions. These circumstances favoured the emergence of a new model for last-mile transportation: crowdsourced delivery (CSD). CSD is described as the transportation of shipments on the last mile through a network of private couriers, carrying parcels on premeditated trips with only small deviations from the original route (Le and Ukkusuri, 2019a). Through this, excess capacities on travel patterns of the couriers are used (Paloheimo, Lettenmeier and Waris, 2016). Ultimately, CSD represents a promising concept CSD to reduce traffic and CO2 emissions in urban areas.

Themen:

CSD as an objective of research is developing steadily. Therefore, existing literature reviews on this research domain (e.g., Alnaggar et al. 2021) are quickly outdated. This thesis aims to provide a far-reaching overview of the topic of CSD. This includes i. a. different CSD concepts, barriers and drivers, as well as factors to motivate couriers to participate. The results should be generated through a systematic literature review and the results should be conceptualised within a framework for decision-makers. Further, areas for future research should be outlined.

The potential of CSD for shipments of B2B firms is still largely unexplored (Castillo et al., 2017). Whereas acceptance for a CSD is high among B2C customers, research is calling for an in-depth examination of its applicability for B2B recipients. Based on a survey among supply chain management executives the transfer of CSD to the B2B context should be explored, including i. a. its specific obstacles, capability, and acceptance.

Literature is missing the positive benefits of CSD for reverse logistics. However, it is promising for customers as it allows for more flexible and less time-consuming returns compared to traditional reverse logistic flows. This thesis should establish a model to estimate last-mile-initiated trips and emissions for reverse logistics. Based on a simulation study, the reductions in emissions and travel distance by using CSD instead of common return channels should be estimated.

Does enhancing supply chain resilience replace sustainability ambitions?

To build competitive supply chains (SCs) companies must focus on achieving resilience and sustainability. On the one hand, global disruptions are increasing, highlighting the vulnerability of SCs. On the other hand, there is increasing national and geopolitical pressure for more sustainable business practices. How do the two SC focus areas influence each other? This exciting observation and its impact will be explored through the following topics of interest.

Themen:

The transformation of supply chain management into a virtual environment

Traditional supply chain management (SCM) will be more and more transformed into a virtual environment (unphysicalization). Thereby, the execution of SCM processes will be conducted in a virtual world, why intelligent infrastructures and dynamic systems are increasingly developing. This exciting transformation and its influence on firms will be explored through the following topics of interest.

Themen:

Importance of the digital transformation for supply chain management activities evident in the German industrial sector

The process of digitizing supply chain management is part of a holistic change towards digital enterprises and offers many application potentials for the digitalization. Digitalization primarily involves the implementation and use of digital systems and the linking of production and logistics facilities. Through the increased interconnectivity of systems, actors can realise efficient cross-company planning and organisation of material and information flows. Despite various advantages, this change is accompanied by requirements and challenges, which the actors have to cope with. The theses belonging to this topic deal with digital transformation within SRM and tangible digital technologies related to Industry 4.0 in the german industrial sector.

Themen:

This thesis aims to develop an application framework for incentivizing and implementing blockchain (BC) applications in automotive supply chains (SCs). The automotive industry is considered a dynamic industry receptive to new technologies for process optimization. Trends such as globaliza-tion, sustainability, customization, outsourcing, and flexibility significantly impact the complexity of automotive value chains. Lately, BC has also become a buzzword in the automotive industry and offers advantages in SC applications. In the context of e-mobility, there is a need for the traceability of problematic resources in battery productions. The urge for a cross-company implementation in the SC does not yet exist since many scenarios can be mapped well without BC. According to Cole et al. (2019), there is a gap in research on the impact of BC on the transparency of multi-tier networks. Therefore the aim of this thesis is to analyse the implementation and incentivication of BC applications in the automotive industry.

Digital transformation is currently one of the most popular buzzwords in the world of business. However, how does it change the relationship between buyer and supplier? The strategic importance of supplier relationship management (SRM) has increased as manufacturers shift their strategy from transactional, cost-efficiency driven relationships to delivering value to their suppliers. Practitioners widely endorse the direct positive impact of supplier relationships on the performance of both companies involved and see collaboration as a driver of competitive advantage. Active management and understanding of relationship characteristics help managers optimise the performance outcome of the partnership. The objective of this thesis is to examine how emerging technologies can be used effectively in the context of SRM and how the technologies are operationalised in german industrial companies. A case study should be used to analyse the impact of digital transformation on SRM. Alternatively, an extensive literature review should be conducted as part of a Bachelor’s thesis to examine existing literature and distinguish between empirical and conceptual research contributions.

Industrial companies face increasingly dynamic operating conditions and are affected by various economic, technological, geopolitical, social and environmental issues that place conflicting demands on supply chains. While there is considerable interest in how individual business dynamics such as the digitisation impact supply chain management, new research is needed to understand the interconnectedness of these challenges. In this context, environmental dynamics reflect the speed and scale of change outside the business. The pace of change in product design, technology and customer preferences can therefore assess the dynamics of the business environment. In the context of this paper, the focus is on the intertwining of problems and pressures that lead to paradoxes within the industry that need to be addressed. 1) How do platform technologies affect the different dimensions of supply chain complexity? In addition, how can this simultaneously improve supply chain traceability? or 2) How can companies balance the need for an efficient digitised and lean supply chain with a responsive complex supply chain when the prevailing environmental forces are dynamic and force companies to reprioritise frequently?

Resilience of freight transport

The transportation of freight is a crucial element of supply chains (Fleischmann, 2008). Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of global freight transport (e.g., Li et al., 2021) and thus the importance of resilience of the freight transportation process.

Themen:

Transportation via air represents so far the only possibility to transport freight inter-continental in a fast manner (IATA, 2018). Air cargo thereby transports over US $6 trillion worth of goods, accounting for approximately 35 % of world trade by value (IATA, 2021). The challenges regarding air freight are e.g. security threats, limited carrying capacity, geopolitical restrictions, or the dependence on suitable weather conditions (Janić, 2015, 2019). Due to increasingly serious challenges, this bachelor/master thesis aims to identify the role of air freight in resilient supply chains. Interviews with experts from logistics service providers and other stakeholders in freight transportation like shippers and consignees of air freight shipments or the airport operator(s) shall be conducted.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement for increased resilience of global supply chains (e.g., Belhadi et al., 2021) and freight transportation (e.g., Li et al., 2021) is omnipresent. However, to date, appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the comprehensive resilience of the freight transportation process have not been described. This bachelor/master thesis therefore aims to indicate appropriate KPIs by conducting interviews with stakeholders of the transportation process or screening relevant scientific literature.

The increasing relevance and application of digital technologies in the freight transportation process lead to changed possibilities for the identification of risks and disruptions. For example, to cope with delays and disruptions in production and distribution, many organizations have leveraged digital technologies (Ivanov et al., 2019; Sharma et al., 2020) to build resilience. This bachelor/master thesis examines the role of digital technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, or blockchain in the prediction and handling of disruptions throughout the freight transportation process. A systematic literature review provides clarity of the current scientific literature regarding this topic.

Sustainable supply chain finance

The process of supply chain finance is considered to be an effective method for improving the financial performance of a supply chain. Especially recently, the question has arisen how supply chain finance may contribute to the improvement of the sustainability performance of a supply chain, referred to as sustainable supply chain finance (Jia et al., 2020).

Themen:

Sustainable supply chain finance is a special derivative of supply chain finance in which the financing conditions are linked to the sustainability of the supplier, e.g. its eco-rating or social sustainability. The topic of sustainable supply chain finance has gained attention from both academics and industries in recent years (Jia et al., 2020), but still lacks sufficient research (Abdel-Basset et al., 2020). In addition, Jia et al. (2020) identified an insufficient variety of research methods regarding sustainable supply chain finance. This bachelor/master thesis sheds light on the topic of sustainable supply chain finance by screening relevant scientific literature and developing a research framework.

Sustainable supply chain finance is considered to improve the competitive advantages of companies (Tseng et al., 2019). Despite its relevance, the future of sustainable supply chain finance is still unclear. For example, the future role of digital technologies like AI (Olan et al., 2021) or Blockchain technology (Saberi et al., 2018) in sustainable supply chain finance needs to be clarified. Consequently, this bachelor/master thesis aims to develop projections for a Delphi study to conduct research regarding sustainable supply chain finance in the future. The development of Delphi projections may comprise a literature review or interviews / workshops with experts in supply chain finance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a financial disruption within global supply chains. Formerly, supply chain finance proved to be an appropriate answer to the 2008 financial crisis and could then help to face the challenge (Moretto & Caniato, 2021). COVID-19, however, displayed that new paradigms are necessary so that supply chain finance can remain its function as an effective mitigation strategy (Lo Nigro et al., 2021; Moretto & Caniato, 2021). This bachelor/master thesis thus aims to examine the development of supply chain finance following the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting a case study or screening relevant scientific literature.

Impact of artificial intelligence (& machine learning) on resilience in operations management.

Die beispiellosen Fortschritte bei der Computerleistung in jüngster Zeit leiten einen neuen Entwicklungsschritt für die KI ein. Infolgedessen zeigen KI-Ansätze wie maschinelles Lernen (ML), Deep Learning (DL), neuronale Netze (NN), Fuzzy-Logik (FL), Verarbeitung natürlicher Sprache (NLP), Algorithmen u. a. (ungeahnte) neue Anwendungen und Möglichkeiten die gesamten Produktionssysteme und Betriebsmanagement-Paradigmen sowie die verschiedenen Beziehungen innerhalb des Liefernetzwerks zu verändern.

Über diese KI-Merkmale und -Technologien, ihre Integration mit anderen Spitzentechnologien, die Herausforderungen und Vorteile der oben genannten komplexen und unvorhersehbaren Umweltereignisse ist jedoch nur wenig bekannt, wobei die Widerstandsfähigkeit der Produktionssysteme und des Betriebsmanagements zu berücksichtigen ist. Daher müssen sich Produktionssysteme, Betriebsführung und Versorgungsnetze auf innovative Strategien und Technologien stützen, um zu überleben, ihre Anpassungsfähigkeit zu verbessern und, wenn möglich, in dieser neuen Konfiguration agiler, flexibler und widerstandsfähiger zu sein. Es wird also deutlich, dass die Integration von KI mit anderen Spitzentechnologien in Produktionssystemen, Betriebsmanagement und Versorgungsnetzen deren Widerstandsfähigkeit erheblich verbessern kann.

Themen:

Beispielhafte Fragen:

  • KI-Ansätze zur Vorhersage und Minimierung der Auswirkungen unvorhersehbarer Umweltereignisse
  • KI-Modelle erzeugen und verbessern die Agilität, Flexibilität, Reaktionsfähigkeit und Leistung von Produktionssystemen bei komplexen Umwelteinflüssen.
  • Die Rolle der künstlichen Intelligenz bei der Anpassung der Produktionssysteme und des Betriebsmanagements während einer lang anhaltenden Krise
  • KI-Techniken zur Vorhersage von Hochläufen und Engpässen im Versorgungsnetz
  • AI-Ansätze zur Unterstützung und Nutzung von Produktionsmodellen der Kreislaufwirtschaft

Die Bearbeitung dieser Themenstellungen erfolgt in englischer Sprache!