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Department of Business


On May 4th, 2016 in Milton, Ontario, the World Class Supply Chain 2016 Summit was held in partnership between CN Rail and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business & Economics to realize an ambitious goal: raise knowledge of contemporary supply chain management (SCM) issues through genuine peer-­‐to-­‐peer dialogue among practitioners and scholars. A principal element of that knowledge is an answer to the question: to gain valid and reliable insights for attaining SCM excellence, what issues must be researched further? This White Paper—which is the second of the summit’s two White Papers—addresses the question by proposing a research agenda comprising 16 research projects. This research agenda covers the following:

  1. The current state of research knowledge on issues that are of the highest priority to today’s SCM professionals
  2. Important gaps in current research knowledge and, consequently, the major questions that should be answered in sixteen future research projects aimed at addressing those gaps
  3. Ways in which the research projects can be incorporated into student training and be supported by Canada’s major research funding agencies

That content comes from using the summit’s deliberations to guide systematic reviews of both the SCM research literature and Canadian institutional mechanisms that are geared towards building knowledge through research. The major conclusions from those reviews can be summarized as follows:

  1. While the research literature to date has yielded useful insights to inform the pursuit of SCM excellence, several research questions of immense practical importance remain unanswered or, at best, inadequately answered
  2. The body of research required to answer those questions will have to focus on what the summit’s first White Paper presented as four highly impactful levers that SCM executives must expertly handle to attain excellence: collaboration; information; technology; and talent
  3. The proposed research agenda can be pursued in ways that achieve the two inter-­‐related goals of creating new actionable knowledge and building the capacity of today’s students to become tomorrow’s practitioners and contributors to ongoing knowledge growth in the SCM field

This White Paper’s details underlying these conclusions build on the information presented in the summit’s first White Paper. That is, while the first White Paper (White Paper 1) identified general SCM themes for which the research needs are most urgent, this White Paper goes further along the path of industry-academia knowledge co-creation. It does so by examining and articulating those needs against the backdrop of available research findings, translating the needs into specific research projects that should be pursued, and providing guidelines for how those projects can be carried out.