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Top Supply Chain Universities And The Question Of Reputation

Google the question "what is the top supply chain university?" and four rankings appear on the first page: Gartner, US News, Eduniversal and SCM World. The methodologies vary, so naturally the lists are different, but all include at least some element of reputation as a driver of rank order.

Top Supply Chain Universities and the Question of Reputation

Unfortunately, reputation can act as a sort of ranking flywheel reinforcing conventional wisdom and potentially distorting the truth.

Ask hiring professionals what they think of this question and you’ll often hear the following, quoted anonymously from a 2016 SCM World survey respondent: “I don't mind the brand of university, as much as his/her hands-on experience with supply chain.”

And yet, the rankings matter because they drive student applications, which drives selectivity and therefore raw talent. A few slots up or down in the rankings can have an immediate and measurable impact. You may want to look away, but you can’t.

Academia as an industry is very old. Its standard of excellence dictates a painstakingly slow process of peer review for research publication, which governs who gets tenure at the most prestigious universities. This is fine perhaps for paleontology, history or physics, but not supply chain.

Supply chain is a field science, moving so fast in response to forces of digitization, globalization and financial innovation that classical university standards of excellence can’t keep up. What’s needed, according to supply chain executives surveyed about the ideal skill mix in 2020 and beyond, is some combination of communication, strategic thinking and change management.

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