Industry Partnerships


Bringing together leading practitioners and researchers to discuss problems and opportunities for collaborative research


Consortium for Operational Excellence in Retailing (COER)

The Consortium for Operational Excellence in Retailing (COER) is a partnership between a group of leading retailers and academics from the Fishman-Davidson Center and Harvard Business School. COER began in 1997 with a grant from the Sloan Foundation to sponsor interactions with a group to 32 leading retailers around the questions of how advances in information technology would change the way retailers forecast demand and manage supply and to conduct research with individual retailers to advance the state of the art of retail supply chain management. Results of this initial study were published in M. L. Fisher, A. Raman and A. McClelland, “Rocket Science Retailing is Coming: Are Your Ready?” Harvard Business Review, July-August 2000.

COER continues today with participation from more than two dozen retailers. We continue to conduct research with member companies on supply chain issues and to hold annual conferences with retailers and academics to report results of past research and to identify emerging research issues.

Global Supply Chain Production Sourcing Benchmark Study

The Global Supply Chain Benchmark project is a research partnership involving 7 leading academic centers for the study of global supply chain production sourcing strategy. The participating schools include the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany, the Olin Business School, Washington University St. Louis, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, the Graduate School of Business Administration, Kobe University, Japan and the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. The project has also included participation of faculty from the Sloan School at MIT, the Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. Over 100 global companies have participated in the study.

The focus of the benchmark study is to analyze current trends in global production sourcing decisions by leading global firms. Our research suggests that there is a significant wave of restructuring of global supply chains in progress. Companies are de- and increasing production volume all over the globe. Recent shifts have led to the transfer of manufacturing employment from developed countries to developing countries.   There is much debate concerning future trends for reshoring and the continuation of offshoring. The goal of the project is to conduct empirical research on the scale and scope of such decisions, their drivers and their impact.

The Benchmark has completed two rounds of the survey (one focused on companies operating in China and second based on broad sample of global firms). The project will continue to analyze the empirical results and to interact with participating companies through conferences to share the results of the research and to receive input on research priorities for continuation of the study.


Executive Forums

These executive forums focused on global supply chains that are managed by multinational companies that operate in the US and abroad. This includes OEMs, contract manufacturers, service providers and lower tier suppliers in both manufacturing and service industries. Our emphasis was on issues associated with the sourcing of manufacturing and services.

Many manufacturing firms are re-examining the structure of their global supply chains and their associated sourcing strategy in response to the uncertainties and risks they face in these turbulent times. These adjustments are occurring against a backdrop of fundamental change to the environment in which global supply chains operate. For decades a dominant strategy in manufacturing has been to outsource to low cost global suppliers. This has led to the transfer of manufacturing jobs and development activities out of the US, Japan and Europe and into low labor cost countries such as China, India and Vietnam. Today this trend is being challenged by a movement by some companies to “re-shore” their manufacturing by bringing it back or at least moving it closer to their developed country market, i.e. by “near-shoring”. At the same time many firms continue to select offshore locations for outsourcing of material inputs and services.

Service Supply Chain Strategy Forum

A principal objective of a firm’s service strategy is to enable its customers to maximize the value derived from ownership and use of the mission critical products they have purchased. This goal is supported by deployment and control of a wide range of resources required to support, maintain and repair these products in a manner that provides maximum availability or up-time of the installed base. A major component of the resource investment required to meet this goal is in the inventory of service parts that must be positioned throughout an extensive network of stocking and repair facilities. Optimal management of this service supply chain requires the firm to make a wide range of structural (design) and asset management (material flow, human resource capacity), decisions to maximize service value and revenue while minimizing operating costs and inventory investment.

Currently there is a heightened recognition of the relevance of service supply chains to support competitive performance. This new emphasis has led to the identification of customer centric service strategies that leverage off of the fact that after-sales service is a primary driver of customer satisfaction. Many companies also recognize that, under current economic conditions, customer service is their best bet for finding high margin revenue growth opportunities. The goal of forum is to work with leading manufacturers of mission-critical products and after-sales service providers to develop effective service centric strategies and to contribute to the development of decision support technologies that will enable their implementation. (A summary of these concepts is to be found in: Cohen, M., Agrawal, N., and Agrawal, V. “Delivering Customer Value Through After Sales Support of Products: The New Road to Profitability and Competitive Advantage,” Harvard Business Review, May-2006).

A joint industry-research meeting to address these issues is held on an annual basis to bring together leading practitioners and researchers to discuss emerging problems and opportunities for collaborative research. Participants include leading companies in the high technology, aerospace, defense and communications industries.

Research in this area has been funded by the National Science Foundation and grants from individual companies.