M&SOM Review

As Internet retailing grows, so does the complexity of the supply chains that support it. Initially many organizations utilized a handful of regional fulfillment centers (FCs) to serve customers’ online orders. Each FC was dedicated to a region, and operated independently of the other FCs. By ignoring interactions among FCs, firms could employ traditional inventory policies designed for decentralized distribution systems, policies that are half a century old.

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Let us first read a story written and posted on the thekrazycouponlady.com:

Like many Krazy Coupon Ladies, I consider myself a smart and savvy shopper, but I'll be the first to admit that sometimes my emotions get the best of me. I saw a beautiful cashmere sweater at one of my favorite shops last week for 30% off; it even came in petite sizes—it was too perfect. I thought I had an amazing deal. It was still more than I would normally spend, but I went against my gut and bought it anyway. The next day I got an email that they were now all 40% off—just my luck! Thankfully, while I was online I came across their price adjustment policy and got an additional $10 credited back to my card. Since I had such good luck with this, I thought I'd share a few other fabulous price adjustment policies so hopefully you can save more money and stress less this season! (The Krazy Coupon Lady 2016; emphasis added)

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As every savvy consumer knows, successful products are often quickly copied by lower-cost producers (copycats). This can be observed in a wide variety of manufactured items, from pharmaceuticals to electronics. These copycat firms piggyback on the success and creativity of others by quickly introducing their own facsimile of a much more expensive product. To combat the copycats, firms may turn to legal means. However, lawsuits are often difficult as the copycats skate the fine line between stealing designs and inspiration. In some cases, government protection in the form of patents can be helpful (for example, audio equipment manufacturer Klipsch has sued competitor Monoprice for patent infringement, and fashion firm Burberry includes legal action as one of its strategic initiatives). In other cases, a manufacturer may choose to compete on price, hoping that consumers will stay loyal in exchange for price concessions (for example, research has shown that two years after the introduction of a generic version of pharmaceuticals the cost of treatment falls by an average of 35.1%). In still other situations, the designer of an original product may be left to basically ignore the copycat for lack of effective options.

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From April 2017, large UK companies are required to report their supplier payment practices and performance twice a year, according to a new regulation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (https://www.gov.uk/government). Firms must report detailed contractual terms such as the time they take to pay their invoices. And the United Kingdom is not the only country aiming to regulate firms’ payment behavior. France, for example, has passed a law that prevents French trucking firms from extending payment terms more than 30 days.

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Electric vehicles (EVs) have been considered an integral part of smart city development and offer a promising solution to environmental issues in transportation. EVs produce no tailpipe emissions and offer significant improvements on well-to-wheel energy efficiency and emissions levels over their gasoline counterparts, especially when powered by clean sources of electricity (e.g., solar and wind power). The diversity of power sources also make EVs less sensitive to fossil fuel depletion and to supply uncertainty of crude oil. Despite their potential, however, mass consumer adoption of EVs have been hampered by several major hurdles, including their short driving ranges (coupled with inadequate public charging facilities), their high upfront purchase costs, and their potentially high depreciation rates due to rapid technology development.

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In the past decade, about 95% of the renewable power generation resources added in the United States was wind and solar power. Generating energy from these intermittent renewable resources requires no fuel and produces no pollution. Because of these obvious economic and environmental benefits, these renewable resources have often been prioritized over fossil generation; that is, electric grid operators aim to use as much wind and solar power as possible. There was nothing wrong with prioritizing intermittent generation in its early stage of development, but as intermittent resources increasingly penetrate the power supply, the grid operator’s task of balancing supply with demand has become more and more challenging. What are the ways and associated costs of buffering the variabilities introduced by renewable resources? Are there any benefits of curtailing (i.e., reducing the output of) intermittent generation? How does renewable energy and its curtailment affect the power market competition?

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For nearly three decades, the predominant trend in the U.S. manufacturing industry has been offshoring, which refers to manufacturers moving or building factories offshore (most prominently in China) to produce goods for the onshore (U.S.) market. The top driver of this trend has been lower labor costs in emerging economies. Recently, however, this labor arbitrage has been gradually tapering off as wages in China grew 10–20% annually. As such, a growing number of U.S.-based companies started to consider bringing factories back to the United States—dubbed reshoring—and some have taken actions. However, the adoption of reshoring is slower than many have hoped, generating much debate about whether reshoring is viable and scalable.

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The educational service since the early days of the School of Athens was built on the idea of a service provider (i.e., the instructor) delivering the content and orchestrating a discussion among participants. The service quality, measured by learning outcomes, depends critically on the quality of discussion and the instructor’s ability to engage participants in the learning process (i.e., the Socratic method). The main issue with this method is that it is expensive: college student loan debt in the United States, reaching $1.2 trillion, is the second largest debt after mortgage debt.

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From management consulting to legal teams and flight crews, product development or scientific research teams, fluid teams are the norm rather than the exception in many knowledge-intensive work settings. Such teams are assembled for a specific purpose and operate for a limited time, after which they dissolve and some team members may work together again as part of another team. Fluid teams are particularly prominent in dynamic operational environments of healthcare. Imagine a surgery unit of a busy hospital with continuous assembly and dissolution of teams.

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