david closs

David Closs, the John H. McConnell Endowed Chair of Business Administration and professor of supply chain management

First as a student and then as a long-time faculty member, the John H. McConnell Endowed Chair of Business Administration and professor of supply chain management, David Closs’s connection and service to Michigan State University has spanned more than 50 years.

With extensive industry and research experience in the areas of supply chain strategy, information systems, security, and planning techniques, Closs is an innovative thought leader bridging professional application and academic research and helping MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business establish itself as the leader in supply chain management education.

His tenure with MSU came to an end with his retirement at the close of the spring 2019 semester. Yet, even as his academic career began to wind down, Closs himself has shown no signs of slowing down.

Closs was the only featured speaker hailing from academia at this spring’s SCOPE Supply Chain Summit, an invitation-only conference of top-level supply chain executives — a testament to both his reputation in the industry and MSU’s reputation as the leading supply chain management program.

“It is very valuable for a number of reasons,” Closs said of the SCOPE Summit experience. “It provides MSU with an opportunity to increase visibility for our research and expertise. It also develops interest in our research and often provides opportunities to extend it, collect more data, and provides insight to better interpret our findings. The combination of research and industry experience allows MSU to provide rigorous and relevant insight for industry professionals.”

As a speaker at the SCOPE Summit, Closs presented the research of a multidisciplinary team of MSU faculty collaborating through the Axia Institute, a value chain innovation center within the Broad College that expands on the top-ranked supply chain management program.

The exterior of the Axia Institute lit up at night in Midland, Michigan.

Axia Institute

“Value chain extends supply chain by delivering value and solutions rather than just products,” Closs said, explaining the nuances between the two. “End-to-end integrated value chain management provides firms with the next transformational opportunity for value creation.”

The presentation posed the overarching question, How do value chain capabilities impact a firm’s performance? The research investigates the correlation of value chain competencies to performance. Closs explained that, “historically, MSU has completed supply chain research that tried to identify the supply chain competencies that drove supply chain performance. This most recent work extends our previous efforts to determine the dimensions of value and the corresponding drivers.”

Organizations can start to develop a value chain mindset “by determining the value proposition desired by their key customers,” Closs said. “This requires that executives and managers understand the concept of value and the realization that delivering requires collaboration between value chain partners. While this research begins to identify the drivers of value chain performance, further work is needed to identify other competencies and determine relationships.”

Part of that further work is scaling the research into a multi-industry value chain index. “Our goal is to create an index that could be used to quantify how value chain performance is increasing for various industries,” he said. “We are using our current value chain research to generate interest in developing an industry-based value chain index.”

The value chain research project is just one example of how MSU’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program bridges academic research and industry application through experiential education. Research survey questions were developed and tested with current M.S. in Supply Chain Management students, as they are the working professionals and executives who will lead these innovative processes to meet future industry demands.

“The MSU SCM program continues to take a broad view of supply chain management, so our graduates come out with an end-to-end and integrated perspective,” Closs said.

The program also continues to set the standard in supply chain management education as well, recently named the #1 ranked Graduate Supply Chain and Logistics Program for 2020 by U.S. News & World Report — for the third straight year.

Learn more about the hybrid M.S. in Supply Chain Management program.