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About The Boeing Center

​ The Boeing Center at Washington University is a world-class research center that disseminates knowledge on global supply chain management, operational excellence, and risk management. We also work with leading industrial and service firms to help optimize global enterprise processes and develop innovative business models and supply chain solutions.


In a recent operations management research productivity study published in Decision Sciences, Panos Kouvelis was ranked among the top three in several significant categories. Kouvelis is WashU Olin’s director of The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation and Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management.

The study includes the “most-published OM authors from across the world based on total number of papers on which the individual is included as author from across all four [major] journals [of the field: Management Science, MSOM, POM, and JOM] over the 15-year period of 2001-2015.”

Here are a few ranking highlights for Professor Kouvelis:

  • No. 3: Total number of papers
  • No. 1: Publications in MSOM
  • No. 3: Total number of papers, weighted for co-authorship (Management Science publications counted only in the OM department)
  • No. 2: Total number of papers, weighted for co-authorship (Management Science publications included in all departments, with some OM linkage)
Fuqiang Zhang

Fuqiang Zhang, the Dan Broida Professor of Operations & Manufacturing Management, ranked No. 39 for total number of papers and No. 36 in papers weighted for co-authorship.

Additionally, Washington University’s Olin OMM department ranked No. 18 for total number of papers carrying an institution’s affiliation in authorship, No. 9 for publications in MSOM, and No. 12 for publications in Management Science.

We congratulate profs. Kouvelis and Zhang, and the Olin Business School OMM department, on these impressive achievements, and wish them the best in continuing their incredibly productive careers in OM research!




A day hardly passes without an urgent headline focused on the economic transformation underway wrought by blockchain technology. The software is the power behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but Olin experts have been plumbing the deeper implications of the technology.

Here are five things business leaders should know right now about blockchain from Panos Kouvelis, director of Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation, and Ohad Kadan, H. Frederick Hagemann, Jr. Professor of Finance and Associate Dean for Global Degree Programs. Then, watch for a way to learn more.

Peer-to-Peer Transactions—Like Cash

Blockchain technology has been developed as an efficient method for completing financial transactions, based on the principle of peer-to-peer involvement and fully decentralized and shared networks. It functions as a distributed ledger that provides visibility of all transactions to all parties in the chain, and it is built on an immutable database.

Early Applications

Beyond cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, etherium, and litecoin, the blockchain has been used in supply chain finance in areas such as clearing financial payments, using digital ledgers, and executing “smart” contracts.

Digital Inventory Tracking

Key inventory and asset resources can take on a digital footprint, which provides additional security and tracking capabilities. Applications have been built, relying on the blockchain, to track and trace goods involved in the supply chain for industries such as the diamond trade, food, and pharmaceuticals.

Applications Still Being Conceived

Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize supply chains and it requires the immediate attention of supply chain managers. Many are scrambling to understand how a technology developed to support cryptocurrencies might be applicable to supply chains and, in particular, to the supply chains of their companies. Experts say the technology will reduce friction in global shipping operations and complex supply chains that involve goods flowing across borders, through ports, and involving governmental agencies, manufacturing, and retail firms.

Kouvelis and Kadan will help business leaders get further up-to-speed on the ways blockchain technology will enhance (or disrupt) their industry in a two-day seminar May 22-23 called “Blockchain Innovation Strategies: Early Lessons from an Emerging Technology.” Click for more about this workshop.

The workshop is structured as a forum to learn more about the technology and equip attendees to know what questions to ask as they explore the implications of blockchain for their business. Coming out of the workshop, attendees should better understand the potential application of the technology in their supply chains, gain inspiration about possible immediate benefits the technology can provide, and confront obstacles and challenges in implementing it.


Imagine you and your significant other finally carved out some time for a vacation getaway. You did your research—booked flights, picked a few promising restaurants, dug up your favorite fanny pack—and now it’s time to find a place to stay.

You’ve heard a lot about Airbnb, so you decide to give it a try. After some deliberation, you’ve both agreed on a place within walking distance of all the local attractions, so you send a request to the owner.

But after a couple hours, you get a message from Airbnb saying that your request has been denied without explanation. For a significant number of Airbnb users, this scenario is all too real.

Dennis Zhang

Dennis Zhang

In the Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation’s latest video, Dennis Zhang, Olin assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management, discusses the topic of racial discrimination on peer-to-peer platforms.

According to Zhang, Airbnb requests made by accounts with distinctly African American names were 19 percent less likely to be accepted compared to other accounts. However, if those accounts have additional review data (i.e., at least one positive or negative review), all accounts are equally likely to be accepted.

Zhang believes that people require a bit more information to nudge them in a non-discriminatory direction. He thinks that if Airbnb offered more information within the platform, it would reduce the likelihood of discrimination by those looking to rent out their space.

Zhang goes on to mention that platforms conducting business via peer-to-peer transactions face a higher likelihood of discrimination. He says that discovering how discrimination happens on those platforms is a critical step to ensuring equal consumer treatment. Zhang’s research emphasizes the importance of information, and hopes it will be effective in the fight against discrimination.

[RELATED: Airbnb nondiscrimination policy may backfire]


Jorge Calvo, Professor of Operations Strategy at GLOBIS University Management School and former President & CEO of the Global Supply Chain Management Division of Roland DG Systems, recently sat down with the Director of The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation, Panos Kouvelis, to talk about Industry 4.0 and its implications on the future of global manufacturing.

Industry 4.0 was a term coined to describe a program to support the local industry in Germany and France. It is considered to be the fourth major phase of the industrial revolution, characterized by its use of emerging technologies to enhance manufacturing techniques and supply chain processes.

In his experience, Calvo has found that there are two different approaches within the scope of Industry 4.0: the German approach, focusing on machine-to-machine production practices and supply chain management (i.e., the “smart factory” and the Internet of Things), and the Japanese approach, which focuses on cloud-based technology designed for process optimization through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and download our app on iOS or Android for access to exclusive content and events!


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A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

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John Stroup, President & CEO of Belden Inc., explains the major global trends driving investment in automation for manufacturing. Some factors contributing to automation’s increased adoption are rising labor costs, the need for increased productivity, and changing consumer behaviors.

Automation enables manufacturers to become better at producing to meet consumer demand because it significantly shortens changeover, resulting in greater flexibility. Stroup goes on to explain that, due to rising labor costs in Asia, many manufacturers are moving production to the United States and using automation to replace human labor. Productivity is more elusive than ever in the current post-recession landscape, which increases the need to focus on maximizing productivity and ROI.

All of these factors are generating a great deal of interest in the adoption of automation in manufacturing—a process Stroup says will be “evolutionary, not revolutionary.” Stroup estimates automation adoption will reach 74% in 6-10 years. The automotive industry is already at that mark.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and download our app on iOS or Android for access to exclusive content and events!


• • •

A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

Website  • LinkedIn  • Subscribe  • Facebook  • Instagram  • Twitter  • YouTube