Best Supply Chain Paper

The ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Award is sponsored by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The selection process has four steps:
  1. The OSCM Division Program Chair nominates a set of four papers that are candidates for this award.
  2. These finalist papers are forwarded to the chair of ISM’s Education Resource Committee (ERC) for evaluation.
  3. The ERC reviews each finalist paper, selects the award winner, and designates the other 3 papers as “Runner Up”.
  4. The award winner is announced by the CEO of ISM at the AOM Annual Meeting.

Finalists for the award are selected by the OSCM Division Program Chair based on the ratings and comments received from AOM conference reviewers. The award winner is then chosen from these finalist papers by the ERC following a blind review process. The selection criteria are as follows:

  1. Significance of the paper to the field of Supply Chain Management (SCM);
  2. The extent to which the paper is interesting and managerially relevant;
  3. Theoretical contribution to SCM;
  4. Use of appropriate methodological rigor;
  5. Clarity of writing and/or presentation.

2022 ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Award

Winner: Cognitive and Structural Embeddedness of the Supply Base: Effects on Buyer Profitability
Jesus Diego Castillo, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Maria J. Montes-Sancho, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Zhaohui Wu, Oregon State University

ISMBestPaper2022.jpgThe winners Jesus Diego Castillo (left), Maria J. Montes-Sancho (middle), and Zhaohui Wu (right)


Transparency in Buyer-Supplier Relationships: The What and When of Sensitive Information Exchanges
Davide Burkhartn University of Mannheim;
Christoph Bode, University of Mannheim

Exploring Codes of Conduct in the Supplier Selection Decision at Financially Distressed Firms
Christian Felix Durach, ESCP Business School; Mary Parkinson, University College Dublin; Frank Wiengarten, ESADE Business School; Mark Pagell, University College Dublin

What Do They Want? The Effect of Logistics Quality on Direct-to-Consumer Customer Satisfaction
Mike Goulder, Case Western Reserve University; Yunmei Wang, Case Western Reserve University; Kalle Lyytinen, Case Western Reserve University

Using Deep Learning to Improve Inventory Record Accuracy: Concept and Application
Javier Ricardo Amaya Silva, Oxford University

2022 ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Award Winner Feature

Congratulations on winning this award, Jesus and team! What motivated you to conduct this award-winning research?

Beyond the well-known structural and relational embeddedness in social networks, what fascinates us about shared cognition is that it may exist among individuals and organizations even when they do not share an interpersonal or inter-organizational relational tie or a contract. We realized that the potential of shared cognition at the supply chain and business ecosystem levels usually occurs as dormant because individuals and organizations are not able to realize their cognitive synergies unless they have an enabling interaction. Therefore, we were motivated to provide insights on how buyer firms can act as an enabler entity or broker for shared cognition in their networks and understand the implications of doing so for buyer financial performance.

We noticed that extant research mainly relied on shared cognition within dyads, but we found it necessary to explain how cognitive embeddedness works at the network level, such as within a supply base. For us, the true potential of shared cognition is not within a dyadic tie but in elicitating collective action and resource exchange among several members working together at the network level. Although, soon enough, we found extant literature on overembeddedness suggesting that shared cognition may have a “dark side”. This sparked our interest in understanding whether the ”dark side” also existed in the supply base cognitive embeddedness and to explain with as much detail as possible under which conditions it gets revealed and how it affects buyer financial performance.

In this study, we decided to focus on cognitive embeddedness in the context of sustainability, as we see a key role of shared cognition as an enabler of collective actions, generating innovative ideas and solutions to environmental and social challenges that supply networks face. Beyond enforced regulation, plenty of sustainability actions come from true organizational commitments. The extent that such commitments are shared at an inter-organizational level may mobilize organizational resources and actions. For the buyer firm, we wanted to show how shared cognition among supply base members in terms of shared commitments does not necessarily imply a trade-off with financial performance.

What is the most interesting outcome of your awarded AOM paper?

We found that buyer firms, in terms of profitability (return on assets), can not only benefit from shared cognition vis-a-vis with first-tier suppliers (i.e., buyer-suppliers) but from shared cognition on the supplier side (i.e., supplier-supplier). This is possible as shared cognition allows self-developed initiatives and coordination among suppliers. It implies that cognitive embeddedness operates in the supply base in two directions: vertical (i.e., between a buyer and its first-tier suppliers) and horizontal (i.e., when shared among first-tier suppliers). However, we found a “dark side” of cognitive embeddedness that negatively influences buyer financial performance. This “dark side” is revealed when the supply base becomes cognitively homogeneous when cognition is shared in both vertical and horizontal directions. In the context of sustainability, it could happen, for example, when all members have a collective but narrow understanding of sustainability as it becomes costly to generate new ideas outside the established group paradigm, known as the ”idea generation problem”. Therefore, a certain level of heterogeneity in shared cognition is necessary at the network level to prevent group thinking. In addition to shared cognition, we found that structural embeddedness as supply base interconnectedness matters. Those structural contractual ties shared among suppliers serve as bridges potentiating the flow of information and interaction among supply base members and accentuating the positive effects of supplier-supplier shared cognition on buyer financial performance.

For managers, in terms of supplier development, our results show the importance of considering what matters in each supplier context and developing ad-hoc programs with suppliers. More importantly, buyers must avoid developing or enforcing a single group paradigm at the supply base level, making it costly to generate ideas to cope with new challenges outside the well-established groupthink.

What are your future plans? How will you continue this work?

In future research, we would like to continue exploring other facets of cognition beyond shared organizational codes and representations, such as shared narratives, language, or values. With our methodology for mapping the cognitive layer of the network, other not-so-visible or intangible dynamics in the network could be captured, such as cognitively cohesive subgroups that may trigger conflict at the network level. We are in an early stage of developing a web application to diagnose the current level of cognitive embeddedness and, based on our results, detect patterns leading to overembeddedness or propose potential developments of shared cognition in the supply network.

Past ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Awards

2021     Pankaj Kumar, Agnieszka Nowinska, Hans-Joachim Schramm "Supplier’s Network Churn, Buyer-Supplier Embeddedness, and Transaction Price Outcomes"
2020     Yanji Duan, University of North Florida; Christian Hofer, University of Arkansas; John Aloysius, University of Arkansas "Transparency in the Supply Chain: Do Firms Benefit by Disclosing Supplier Monitoring Activities?"
2019     Marcus A. Bellamy, Boston U., Suvrat Dhanorkar, PSU, Ravi Subramanian, Georgia Institute of Technology “Supply Chain Network Structure and Environmental Information Disclosure”
2018     Henrik Franke, German Graduate School of Management and Law; Kai Foerstl, German Graduate School of Management and Law "How Rational are Sourcing Teams? The Effect of Goals and Knowledge on Politics and Rationality"