Supply Chains: The next big thing at the Hub


Sep 30, 2022

A new research field emerges at the CSH

 

In his editorial to the fall 2022 issue of our newsletter “Visions for Complexity”, our president Stefan Thurner announces the next BIG research thing at the Hub:

“As our institution is growing, new topics of interest emerge at the CSH. And a big one is gonna be supply chains,” Stefan writes.

 

“Supply chains are interesting for a number of reasons. For one, governments have to ensure that people are properly supplied with food, medication, energy, and other important goods—especially in times of crises. We just experienced multiple (supply) crises in a very short succession, from COVID-19 lockdowns to the physical blocking of a seaway by a single vessel, up to energy distortions fueled by a war on European territory that no one really had anticipated. These shocks, with their immediate impact on supply chains, were truly eye-opening for most. We became aware how brittle and vulnerable our intertwined, world-encompassing production networks have become in the recent years of globalization and feel—all the way down to our wallets—how important it would be to design them to be more resilient.

 

Resilience alone is not enough though. We also, and urgently, must transform our support systems to become climate neutral, sustainable, and socially just. Only with a deep understanding of the structure and dynamics of supply chain networks will we be able to re-design those lifelines of the economy accordingly.

 

The stakes are high and highly complex—which makes them interesting for the Hub. We work on both novel scientific approaches as well as practical recommendations for policymakers. For instance, we showed that with a simple and minor adaptation of tax reporting we could obtain the data necessary to reconstruct the supply networks of entire nations, ideally even for the whole of Europe. Such data, fed into our agent-based models, would eventually allow us to identify the weak spots of the economy—information necessary to systematically boost its resilience, circularity, and sustainability.”


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