Connecting links in supply chain management

Lingxiu Dong, PhD, professor of operations and manufacturing management at Olin Business School, is passionate about making a difference in real-world business practices. Her research seeks solutions to problems managers face when juggling all the links in complicated supply chains.

Outsourcing helps firms share risks, but may create new ones

KouvelisThe concept of hiring another company to handle “non-core” functions has been around since companies began. But it’s only been in the last several decades that the term “outsourcing” has been coined. Selecting which functions to be outsourced is as individual as each company and the goods and services it provides. Panos Kouvelis, a professor of operations and manufacturing management at the Olin School of Business at Washington University, says that it is often argued that outsourcing helps share risks with suppliers, but new risks enter the picture. “Often difficult tasks, if not appropriately managed, can get out of control,” Kouvelis says. “However, these are the tasks in which a firm can build competency and appropriate market value.” Kouvelis explains the pros and cons of outsourcing.