Supply chain risk management – a literature review

Is it possible to summarize  seven years of supply chain risk management research and find a common theme or definition of what supply chain risk is all about? Apparently not. In Supply chain risk management: literature review and future research, Vanany, Zailani and Pujawan, three scholars from Indonesia and Malaysia, review and classify 82 articles in what is the most complete review that I have seen to date. But…is it a helpful review?

A new journal

Bearing in mind my post on the Catch 22 of Academic Publishing and the consequent emergence of new journals, this review was published in a rather new journal, the International Journal of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management, established in 2008. Being published by IGI Global it ought to become one of the better quality journals

Why such a review?

In the introduction, the authors state that

The purpose of this paper is to provide an extensive literature review on supply chain risk management. In particular, we aim to: 1) Classify SCRM articles according to their approach and methodologies. 2) Discuss opportunities for future research

Interestingly, they find that 38% of the articles were published in these journals

  • International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
  • International Journal of Production Economics
  • European Journal of Operations Research
  • Production and Operations Management

Nonetheless, the reviewed 82 articles were found in a total of 40 journals, clearly showing the broad spectrum of fields that can relate to supply chain risk.

The classification schemes

The authors classify the articles according to

  • Industry sector
  • Unit of anlysis
  • Types of risk
  • Risk management process and strategies

Industry sector

The 82 articles are spread among some 20 industry sectors, ranging from electronics to aerospace to chemical industry and the perhaps more mundane cosmetics.

Unit of analysis

The unit of analysis spanned from single logistics activities (1) to company logistics (2) dyadic relations (15), supply chain (46) and supply network (11), with the latter gaining increasing attention in recent years.

Types of risk

The authors deviate from the “classic” four types of risk: supply, demand, operations and environment, finding only three types in the reviewed  articles: 1) operational accidents, 2) operational catastrophes and 3) strategic uncertainties. However, given a “risk management” approach, this perspective is fully justified.

Risk Management processes and strategies

In dealing with risk, the papers are then classified according to

  • Risk Indentification
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Management
  • Business Continuity Management

Future Research

Correctly, the authors state that

Understanding the types of risks and their probability of occurrence as well as the associated impacts is a starting point for companies to develop effective risk management strategies.

From this, they then develop four research directions:

  • how technology can be used in supply chain risk management
  • how managerial and organizational perceptions of risk influence supply chain risk management
  • how decision making is influenced by the presence of supply chain risk
  • how collaboration among companies influences supply chain risk

Supply chain risk management is a growing area of research, with many areas still unexplored, and thus, plenty of research opportunities.

The critique

I have to commend the authors on finding as many as 82 articles. Unfortunately, the authors have not reviewed any paper prior to 2000, because searching in two major literature databases (Science Direct and Emerald Online)

using a keyword “supply chain risk” revealed no result for papers published prior 2000

I find that strange, given that “supply chain management” as an academic field emerged well before 2000, albeit at that time more likely to be named “logistics” or even “procurement”. Add to that many related keywords such as “supply (chain) disruption”, “supply (chain) vulnerability”, or simply “supply risk”, there ought to be more articles prior to 2000 (or even after). Admittedly, even my own literature collection shows very few if any articles prior to 2000. Still, they did manage to miss Harland et al. from 2003: Risk in supply networks, clearly belonging to their “supply network” unit of analysis. And Cooper et al.’ s Meshing multiple alliances from 1997 should have been listed in the “dyadic relations” unit of analysis. However, if the limitational constraint is the word “supply chain risk”, then many related articles such as these two will never be found. Nonetheless, the authors have done a formidable job in reviewing the 82 articles they selected. And they did find a number of articles hitherto unknown to me, so yes, it is a helpful review.

Something better?

Added 2009/11/09:
Today I stumbled upon a 2004 working paper from the Copenhagen Business School (CBS): How risk and uncertainty is used in Supply Chain Management. That is a literature study of 136 articles since 1970. Maybe not better, perhaps, but certainly a useful supplement.


Vanany, Iwan, Zailani, Suhaiza, & Pujawan, Nyoman (2009). Supply chain risk management: literature review and future research International Journal of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management, 2 (1), 16-33 DOI: 10.4018/jisscm.2009010102


Nyoman Pujawan

Nyoman Pujawan is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Operations and Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, a journal I discovered thanks to a post about new SCM journals on


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  • Peter Trkman

    You state “Being published by IGI Global it ought to become one of the better quality journals” – in my opinion IGI Global is following a very doubtful strategy of quantity over quality and is launching lots of new journals (with fancy titles; I usually can tell a journal is published by IGI after just seeing the title) every year where papers of very questionable quality then appear.

    Note: This comment was sent by e-mail and has been added to the blog by me. Jan Husdal

    • Jan Husdal

      Dear Peter,

      Thanks for your insights. I’ve never thought about IGI that way, but now that you mention it, I’ll try to notice more of what they publish.

  • max

    This Blog is an UNBELIEVABLE RESOURCE for Logistics students!Too bad I only stumbled upon it in the evening stages of my course :(

    • Jan Husdal

      Thank you Max. I'm glad you liked. It's comments like your's that keep me doing this.

  • Terima kasih atas tulisannya. semoga bermanfaat.

    • Jan Husdal

      Sama-sama. You’re welcome.

  • faz

    after 3 months searching focus area for my research, now i think i've found one. thanks for such great information about supply chain.

    • Jan Husdal

      You're most welcome, and thank you for commenting. Please stay in touch and let me know what you are working on.

  • Frank

    Hi Jan, I also really enjoy all the research you have done to put your site together. I think logistics students ever where rejoice once they find this blog ( me being one of them ). I also very much like that you take the time to personally respond to each blogger's comments. It really shows you care.

    – Frank

    • Jan Husdal

      Hi Frank and thank you for the comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the site.

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