I research managerially relevant issues that focus on leadership, uncertainty, and disruptions in supply chain settings. From a “bird’s eye” perspective, this research looks at supply chain disruptions (Please see Figure 1). My interest in the topic rose to the surface soon after I moved to Florida. Every year numerous hurricanes have a paramount effect on the region and trigger the need for a better understanding of how inter-organizational efforts can help mitigate and respond to disasters. Specifically, I look at how disruptions affect commercial supply chains and investigate the significance of leadership and resilience during the response and recovery stages. Additionally, I study inter-organizational relationships within humanitarian supply chains. After volunteering during several hurricanes, I discovered a great need for incorporating academia and humanitarian work. In order to advance scientific knowledge and practice in these areas, I adopt the engaged scholarship approach as a guiding framework for my research philosophy (Van de Ven 2007). I aim to reframe the discourse on the relevance of “academic research for practice” to “how scholarship that is engaged with (rather than for) practice can advance basic scientific knowledge” (Van de Ven 2007). Specifically, I concentrate on three main domains to produce research that advances fundamental knowledge and that is in collaboration with practice.
First, the most important part of my research philosophy application is the creation of collaboration. I adopt the perspective in which an impact on scientific knowledge and practice can be achieved through co-creation, where academics and practitioners collaborate in the research process. Specifically, in one of my working papers (current status: under 2nd round review at POM), I worked together with several major nonprofit organizations in the U.S. to investigate mechanisms that strengthen collaborative relationships in humanitarian supply chains. Data were collected from 55 organizations in the wake of seven major hurricanes. Findings provide insight into differences in the way relationships are strengthened in the dormant and active stages of disaster response. In my other working paper (current status: reject and resubmit at JOM), we collaborated with the executive manager from the automotive industry to address problems experienced in the companies’ manufacturing facilities. The research employs a mixed methods approach with a theory-building critical incident analysis in the automotive industry followed by an experiment to test hypotheses developed in the critical incident analysis. Results confirm how leadership styles transition in response to challenges presented at different stages during a supply chain disruption.
Second, I try to address complex real-life problems with rigorous conceptual and methodological approaches. To ensure the generation of relevant insights into complex phenomena and increase external validity, I deeply ground my research in theory and employ different methods. Specifically, the combination of requiring an open approach over multiple stages has led me to the adoption of a mixed methods approach. Many of my projects are mixed methods studies that combine quantitative and qualitative methods to respond to the emerging needs of the inquiry. For example, my dissertation focuses on the important area of humanitarian supply chains that addresses food insecurity. This research draws on resource-advantage theory to examine the effects of upstream competition on humanitarian organizations’ performance. Using a mixed methods approach, the first essay (current status: preparing for submission for the special issue at POM) employs a multiple case study to develop research propositions that will be subsequently tested in the second study. The case studies were conducted with managers at ten food banks; the secondary data analysis will draw on national data collected from food banks by Feeding America.
Finally, I try to go further and disseminate the implications of my research for practice by presenting to practitioners and publishing in practice outlets through the use of accessible practitioner language and channels. For example, my paper published in Rutgers Business Review (preeminent scholarly publication that connects novel and relevant ideas about business topics from those who study business to those who practice management) offers insights into what leadership traits are best suited in handling major supply chain disruptions. Furthermore, in collaboration with Dr. Arash Azadegan, I presented my research results on supply chain resilience at several major procurement and logistics conferences. In line with engaged scholarship approach, my research process involves collaborating with practitioners to interpret and negotiate the meanings and uses of the findings to solve problems.
To summarize, at this point in my career, my primary interests are in supply chain resilience and humanitarian supply chain management. I have pursued these interests to date by designing field and lab experiments, analyzing secondary data as well as conducting multiple case studies. In the immediate future, I would like to go further with lab and lab-in-the-field experiments and qualitative techniques in the realm of humanitarian supply chain management. In the long term, I see myself working closely with practitioners on expanding my expertise to solve complex humanitarian problems by adopting a mixture of experimental and empirical work. Following the engaged scholarship approach, I aim to achieve both scientific and practical impacts by interacting with stakeholders in practice across the activities of problem formulation, theory building, research design, and problem-solving. Lastly, I plan to publish my work in premier and top-tier outlets in supply chain management journals with the goal of reaching a broad audience of academics, practitioners, and policy-makers.
Figure 1. Iana Shaheen Research Framework