Sustainable Operations and Supply Chain

Research areas/topics on business Sustainability at Operations Division include:

  • Benchmarking corporate environme​ntal and social performance
  • Policies for regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Supply chain strategies and carbon efficiency
  • Humanitarian operations
  • Remanufacturing
  • Socially responsible procurement
  • Impact of supply chain violations on firm value

Publications in: Operations Research, Production & Operations Management, Strategic Management Journal, European Journal of Operations Research, Annals of Operations Research, International Journal of Production Economics, and Energy Economics.

Our faculty members include:

Professors S. Viswanathan and Arvind Sainathan in their latest research (presented at INFORMS Annual Conference, San Francisco, 2014) compared the performance of two key carbon control policies, carbon tax and cap-and-trade, in a firm-level, micro-economic, game theoretic model. They found th​at carbon tax, cap-and-trade as well as auction-based mechanisms for allocation of emission allowances all achieve the same level of social welfare for an economy. They are currently evaluating how the total social welfare to the economy can be improved by policies such as a green rebate (or rebate based on emission reductions) on income and value-added taxes.

Professor Chen Chien Ming has developed production frontier-based methodologies for evaluating and benchmarking corporate environmental & social performance,and has most recently published in the Strategic Management Journal. He is currently engaged in several research projects about creating environmental sustainability in several operations contexts.

In one study, he investigates the relationship between supply chain structure and carbon efficiencies of a firm. He found that firms with limited scope and high focus on their key value-added processes tend to achieve better carbon efficiency in their supply chains. In another study, he and his coauthor look to build theories on how a firm’s carbon performance is associated with its customers’ carbon performance. The initial results reveal that customers of a firm may influence their common buyer through their market power, purchasing power, as their reputation as environmental leaders.

In another study, he examines the antecedents of investments in carbon abatement technologies. He and his coauthor find that firms invest more in riskier projects when they perceive a higher regulatory risk about production processes and customer’s response, while firms tend to reduce investment in riskier projects (and invest more in short-term projects) when they perceive a higher regulatory risk about product eco-labeling.

Other research that has been undertaken in sustainable operations includes:

  • Sustainable Procurement and Supply Chain Management (Fang Liu)
  • Socially Responsible Supply Chains (Fang Liu, S. Viswanathan)
  • Humanitarian Operations (Fang Liu)
  • Remanufacturing and Closed Loop Supply Chains (S.Viswanathan)
  • Benchmarking of corporate environmental performance (CM Chen)

Selected publications:

Journal papers

  • Chen C. M, M. Delmas, and M. Lieberman. (2015) Production frontier methodologies and efficiency as a performance measure in strategic management research. Strategic Management Journal36(1), 19-36.
  • Y. Feng, and S. Viswanathan (2014), “Heuristics with guaranteed performance for a manufacturing system with product recovery," European Journal of Operational Research,232, 322-329.
  • Chen C.M. (2014). Evaluating eco-efficiency with data envelopment analysis: an analytical re-examination. Annals of Operations Research 214(1), 49-71.
  • Chen C.M. (2013). A critique of non-parametric efficiency analysis in energy economics studies. Energy Economics 38, 146-152.
  • Chen, C.M., M. Delmas. (2013), Measuring eco-inefficiency: a new frontier approach. Operations Research, 60 (5), 1064-1079.
  • Chen, C.M., M. Delmas. (2011). Measuring corporate social performance: an efficiency perspective. Production and Operations Management 20(6), 789-804.
  • Yan Feng, and S. Viswanathan, (2011), “A new lot sizing heuristic for manufacturing systems with product recovery,” International Journal of Production Economics, 133, 432-438. 
  • A. Raychaudhuri and S. Viswanathan (2014), “How remanufacturing can be made a norm,” Business Times, September 23, 2014.

Conference papers and presentations

  • Chen, C.M., D. Ho, M. Montes-Sancho. Linking customer base characteristics to the supplier's carbon performance. POM Annual Conference, Washington D.C., USA, May 2015.
  • A. Sainathan, and S. Viswanathan, (2014), “Modeling Carbon Control Policies: Tax versus Cap & Trade,” INFORMS Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, USA, November, 2014. Also at INFORMS Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN, USA, October, 2013.
  • Chen, C.-M., M. Montes-Sancho, Analyzing the effect of perceived regulatory uncertainty on investment in carbon abatement technologies'' INFORMS Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN, USA, October, 2013.
  • Geoff Chua, Yan Feng, S. Viswanathan, (2012), “Near optimal algorithms for a class of policies for the stochastic inventory problem with remanufacturing,” MSOM Annual Conference, New York, USA, July, 2012. Also at POMS Annual Conference, Chicago, USA, April, 2012, and POMS International Conference,Hong Kong, January 2012. 
  • Chen, C.-M. Supply chain strategies and carbon efficiency: evidence from the U.S. manufacturing sector. INFORMS Annual Conference, San Francisco, USA, October, 2014. Also at M&SOM Society SIG meeting, AnnArbor, MI, USA (Jun 2011); POMS-HK conference (Jan 2012); POM-Intl. conference Amsterdam (July 2012); 
  • Chen C-M, “Eco- vs. productive efficiency: new approaches to effective and comparative performance analysis” Proceedings of the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, San Antonio TX, USA (Aug2011). 
  • Chen C-M, (2010), “Footprint benchmarking and the Bottom Line: Finding the value in measurement and management of your environmental footprint.”Workshop panelist, The UCLA IoESCorporate Partners Program. 
  • Chen C-M, “Measuring  corporate social performance: an efficiency perspective.”  Proceedings of the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montreal,Canada (Aug 2010).
Working Papers

  • Fang Liu, A Dynamic Mechanism Design for Achieving Sustainability, 2015, with T. Lewis and J.-S. Song. Working paper. (Submitted to Management Science, Cited by 4)
  • A. Sainathan, and S. Viswanathan, (2015), “Evaluation of alternative policies for regulating GHG Emissions,” to be submitted.
  • Fang Liu, Optimal Mobile Healthcare Delivery Aimed at Minimizing Social Healthcare Costs, 2015, with P. Guo, S. Jiu and Y. Wang. In preparation.
  • Fang Liu, Optimal Deployment of Emergency Supply Inventory under a Humanitarian Relief Objective, 2013, with P. Guo and Y. Wang. Working Paper. (Submitted to Operations Research)
  • Chen C-M, “Supply chain strategies and carbon efficiency:  evidence from the U.S. manufacturing sector.” (under review)
  • Chen C-M, “Analyzing the effect of perceived regulatory uncertainty on carbon abatement investment” (with MariaMontes-Sancho, in preparation).
  • Chen C-M, “Linking customer base characteristics  to the supplier’s carbon performance.”  (with Dixon H. Ho and Maria Montes-Sancho; in preparation).
  • M. Birhade, S. Viswanathan and R. Bhatnagar, (2015),“Scheduling trains in suburban systems to minimize peak power consumption and maximize usage of regenerative breaking power,”.
  • Y. Feng, S. Viswanathan, G. Chua, (2013), “Efficient Algorithms for the Stochastic Inventory Control Problem with Remanufacturing,”Working paper.​

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