Entry Date:
November 23, 2016

A Closed-Loop Methodology for Investigating Trust, Culture, and Information Sharing in Global Supply Chains

Principal Investigator Yanchong (Karen) Zheng

Project Start Date September 2015

Project End Date
 August 2020

We will combine mathematical modeling and human-subject experiments to study the impacts of trust and culture on information sharing in global supply chains. Supply chains today transcend country borders and therefore, can be difficult to manage. To ensure economic and market efficiency, it is critical that truthful information sharing occurs between business partners within a supply chain. This grant supports an integrative research and education plan to advance the field of operations management (OM) by incorporating two new aspects that have not previously been considered: (i) behavioral motives of the human decision makers involved in the information sharing process and (ii) cultural heterogeneity in a global supply chain. The research will lead to the design of new supply chain processes that incorporate behavioral and cultural factors to improve information sharing in global supply chains. The multidisciplinary approach will facilitate scientific collaboration across different fields including OM, economics, psychology, and sociology. It will broaden the participation of undergraduates, females, and underrepresented minorities in research in the STEM domain. The unique cross-cultural focus will enable and stimulate international collaboration in research and education.

This award will transform the Operations Management (OM) discipline by developing a scientific methodology to incorporate important insights from psychology and sociology into OM theories and applications. The canonical OM research in information sharing is theoretical in nature and has mainly focused on pecuniary incentives. However, OM systems are managed by humans who are often subject to nonpecuniary incentives that include behavioral and cultural factors. Thus, systems designed without considering these latent factors are prone to failures. This grant fills this gap and strengthens the theoretical and practical values of OM research. The research agenda contains three parts. First, the supply chain information sharing scenario will be mathematically modeled and analyzed based on canonical economic theories. Second, theoretical predictions obtained in part one will guide the scientific design of human-subject experiments both in the lab and in the field to systematically study the impacts of trust and culture on supply chain information sharing. Third, based on empirical insights from the experiments, new theories on strategic information sharing will be developed to capture the elements of trust and culture. This methodology pioneers a closed-loop framework in OM research in which theories inform the design of behavioral experiments, and experimental results in turn lead to enhanced theories that better predict human behavior and improve management prescriptions.