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.

2023 ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Award

Winner: Sub-suppliers’ Customer Share of Production and Sustainability Compliance in Apparel Supply Chains

Enrico Fontana, Cranfield School of Management; Mohammad Atif, EDC Paris Business School 


Balancing the Exploitation-Exploration Paradox During Major Geopolitical Disruptions
Hamid Moradlou, U. of Warwick; Heather Skipworth, Cranfield School of Management; Lydia Bals, Mainz U. of Applied Sciences; Emel Aktas, Cranfield School of Management; Samuel Roscoe, U. of Sussex Business School 
Mandatory CSR Disclosure Regulation, Sustainable Operations Strategies, and Environmental Innovation
Chuang Wu, Xi'an Jiaotong U. School of Management; Alfred Marcus, U. of Minnesota
Operational Foundation for TPS Implementation: Toyota’s Three Pillar Activity
Katsuki Aoki, Meiji U.; Toshiro Nomura, Kagoshima Prefectural College
The Role of Strategic Consensus for Effective Sub-supplier Management Practices
Elisabeth Altmayer, U. of St. Gallen; Jörg Grimm, Bern U. of Applied Sciences

2023 ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Award Winner Feature

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

Supply chain researchers have shared much evidence in the last decades on social and environmental wrongdoings in production countries and the sustainability strategies of international buyers and retailers to address these wrongdoings. More recently, the evidence has included the ‘dyadic’ collaboration of international buyers and retailers with first-tier direct suppliers.

However, the more we move upstream in the supply chain, the more we find ourselves in unchartered territories. In the past years I, Enrico Fontana, conducted multiple studies in the textile and apparel supply chain in South Asia that made me aware of the lack of knowledge associated with how second-tier sub-suppliers organize for social and environmental conditions in their factory premises. There is particularly little understanding of the boundary conditions that shape their actions.

As researchers, we believe that we have a natural curiosity to discover the unknown, but also a responsibility to create impact for those that need it the most. Our curiosity and responsibility motivated the start of this research.

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

By coining the concept of customer share of production, we highlight that supply chains are less linear than how we usually perceive them. Sub-suppliers produce for multiple customers in the local and international market where they are confronted with different social and environmental demands; these demands can be conceptualized in the form of pressures to invest or not for the benefit of their workers and the natural environment. 

We want to emphasize that end-market fragmentation is an important element that we need to consider to better understand why some sub-suppliers invest in compliance standards, why some decouple compliance standards, and why others decide to invest beyond compliance standards to build a competitive advantage.

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

We would certainly like to continue our work on social and environmental conditions in upstream supply chains, especially with regards to the actions of sub-suppliers and n-tier suppliers more in general. We still know little about the processes of organizing for social and environmental conditions at the very beginning of the supply chain, such as for instance during the sourcing and initial processing of raw materials. We also think that more bottom-up evidence is needed, and this means that we need to listen more to the perspectives of the workers and communities influenced by the production activities.

The main challenge clearly lies in the ability to collect relevant data because the more upstream we move in the supply chain, the more informal and unregulated markets are, and the higher is the difficulty to access the context and unbiased information. Yet, this is a challenge that we are ready to face.

Past ISM Best Supply Chain Paper Awards

2022     Jesus Diego Castillo, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Maria J. Montes-Sancho, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Zhaohui Wu, Oregon State University "Cognitive and Structural Embeddedness of the Supply Base: Effects on Buyer Profitability"

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"