Managing Disruptions in Global Supply Chains Starts and Ends by Managing People

Martin Ramirez

Martin Ramirez

T-bird Alumnus and Faculty

My name is Martin Ramirez, and I am a proud T-bird alum and faculty, where I teach Global Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Communication/Negotiation in Healthcare.   At present, I see a great opportunity among T-birds to help lead the world back to normality.  You cannot read a business publication or visit a grocery store without being reminded of the difficulties that we have faced and still face in how our interconnected reality has been disrupted.  

Figure 1. Marine Traffic Port of Long Beach 11-1-21

As we look out at the dozens of ships who have to wait weeks offshore from ports to be unloaded, we have to be reminded of the importance of human communication and negotiation amidst this crisis.  This note will hopefully be especially useful to those T-birds in procurement or supply positions.  

Is this a supply or a demand problem?  It is actually a little bit of both, as factories overseas shut down due to the pandemic, demand continued to build, and existing inventories have been depleted.  As T-birds we have a special gift that we have received through our education to know that.  Yes, technology is important, but the humans that use that technology have to agree on the goals and strategies.   If you look at the GLOBE model of intercultural communications, you see for example that many of the dimensions of GLOBE can play a significant role in overcoming the demand or supply shocks.  As we learned in regular times, we must rely on our humanity; our similarities can bridge any differences.  “Future orientation,” for example, can take a number of different perspectives depending on the culture. However, having a common deadline in a crisis can go a long way to mitigating the differences, since in a perfect market, there are just as many people who want to ship goods as want to receive them. Stay tuned to Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan for upcoming articles on these topics. If you want to learn more about the GLOBE cultural dimensions and studies in the meantime, you can visit their website here.

Source: Culture and Civilization Matters

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