Thesis Ideas for Supply Chain Students!

When students return to school, many of them are entering the final year of their university or college programs. Many of these programs require the completion of a thesis or larger project that is intended as an overarching project, drawing on all the knowledge students have gained up to that point in order to apply it.

I remember this being a stressful time thinking about what topic you would base your thesis on and hoping it would be good enough to support a full study.

So we thought it would be helpful to outline a set of thesis ideas that have the potential to create great thesis topics for students to consider.

The aim of the thesis

Students have spent 3 years or 4 years or more in classroom education in a variety of subjects, some of which they have had to take and some of which they have chosen. Along the way they have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and some experience.

The purpose of this thesis is to channel all this training into a single project that draws on and applies all or most of this training. Using insights gained over years of face-to-face courses and in combination with additional research, new thinking should be developed to fuse all this background into one thesis.

The thesis should expand the knowledge in the respective field as well as the knowledge and expertise of both the authors and all readers.

The thesis is usually a written document that can also be presented orally. The professor who promotes and supervises the dissertation for the students may be the sole reviewer of the document, or there may be a committee to which the authors must present and defend the dissertation, its content and conclusions.

Possible topics for theses

As more educational institutions offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in supply chain management, an increasingly exciting and well-educated student body is reaching the stage in their programs where they must complete thesis work or larger projects in order to graduate.

And while supply chain management has been recognized as a term since 1982, the understanding, scope and appreciation of the field has continued to evolve. My personal view is that the supply chain is a very broad, all-encompassing field that touches on virtually every aspect of any business or operation.

What makes this such an exciting career path is also what makes it such an exciting educational choice. It offers such a wide range of learning content that every single aspect of the subject could be a course in its own right.

It’s also exciting because the supply chain is at the epicenter of most events in the world. The coronavirus pandemic, climate change, digital technology, food waste and world hunger, sustainability, humanitarian response, disaster planning and recovery, cybersecurity and more are all issues where the supply chain plays either a leading or supporting role.

Here is our list of possible theses for supply chain students to consider. Some of these thesis ideas are very broad and some are narrower. There are countless degree opportunities in this field.

1. The digital supply chain

We live in the digital age. Every aspect of our lives is touched by digital technology. And the supply chain is part of that. The digital supply chain at its broadest encompasses end-to-end, real-time electronic connectivity for every aspect of the supply chain.

Technologies include blockchain, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, drones, machine learning, big data, cloud computing, control towers, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and so on and so on.

Each of these technologies is worth a thesis. Beyond these technologies, there are also questions about cultural impact, investment challenges, standardization and scalability, ease of implementation and usability, integration, and more. These side considerations are very real, can hinder technological implementation, and are also great thesis topics.

2. The resilient supply chain

If the importance of resilient supply chains wasn’t obvious before the pandemic, surely the coronavirus has exposed the fragility of global supply chains in virtually every industry in every country around the world. From masks to ventilators and toilet paper to lumber and vehicles, commodities of all kinds have experienced supply and demand disruptions that have far-reaching effects on our lives.

Moreover, it is true that in every part of the world there is always some kind of disaster, be it natural or man-made. These disasters cause all kinds of disruptions in our lives and economies. In some cases, there are adequate disaster recovery plans and responses. But far too often, when dealing with these disasters, there is inadequate planning and execution, resulting in supply chain disruptions far and wide.

3. Sustainability

According to searcherp, Supply Chain Sustainability (SCS) is “a holistic view of supply chain processes, logistics and technologies that affect the environmental, social, economic and legal aspects of the components of a supply chain.

Factors affecting SCS include waste volume, carbon footprint and emissions, air pollution, labor rights violations, deforestation, and worker health and safety. SCS is founded on the tenet that socially responsible products and practices are not only good for the planet and the people who live here, but also help build positive brand awareness, minimize environmental impact and improve long-term profitability.”

Sustainability is not only topical, but a must for our common future viability. The supply chain is central to the development and implementation of solutions to improve all aspects of sustainability. Another great source for theses with great contributions to society, our lives and our planet.

We need to develop really robust and resilient supply chains. We need to rethink how to create this resilience beyond the often tenuous thinking that has so far gone into supply chain design. Propositions based on any commodity or industry and focused on creating that resilience would provide benefits with far-reaching implications.

4. Climate change

Dealing with climate change is more than just a matter for scientists and politicians. According to bcg.com, “Eight global supply chains (food, construction, fashion, FMCG, electronics, auto, professional services and freight) are responsible for more than 50% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

Improving the efficiency of these supply chains is not just about technology. The processes, logistics and operations of these supply chains can be improved to reduce the impact on the climate. A thesis dealing with climate change in any of these areas can help all of us forever.

5. Risk Management

A philosophy that is at the heart of every supply chain strategy and operation is that of risk management. If your business is more risk-averse, you may carry additional inventories and have more dual sources and operations. If you’re less risk-averse, you may only carry just-in-time inventory, rely on single sources, and run very lean operations.

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, but the common denominator of both strategies is risk. The amount of risk you take or don’t take will cost you money. When you run a lean operation, the slightest disruption can bring your business to a standstill very quickly. However, if you’re running a very fat operation (e.g. lots of redundant inventory), the added costs and cash requirements can equally bring your business to a halt.

A proper balance of supply chain considerations is necessary to ensure continuous operations but to support business realities (e.g. cash). Risk management know-how must be increased everywhere. A thesis focused on optimizing risk management skills will shape supply chain strategies everywhere.

Thesis ideas in conclusion

The prospect of a college thesis can be daunting. It is demanding in every way in terms of your time and energy. Therefore, it is necessary to select a thesis topic that is both interesting to you and valuable to your educational institution and larger societal causes.

Supply chain is such an incredibly diverse profession that it offers countless challenges and opportunities. Within the supply chain there are countless topics for every thesis and for every interest.

We have made some suggestions for your thesis. This list of theses ideas is by no means exhaustive, but it is representative of the topics that interest us and that we think are particularly important at this time.

Good luck with your thesis on our behalf here at Supply Chain Game Changer. And be sure to let us know which topics you choose for your thesis.

Article on Thesis Ideas originally published on August 31, 2021.

Leave a Comment