As students go back to school many of them are entering the final year of their University or College program. Many of these programs require the completion of a thesis or major project of some sort, intended to be an overarching project drawing on all of the knowledge that the students have acquired to that point to put it into application.
My recollection is that this was a stressful period trying to think about what subject you would base your thesis on and hoping it would be good enough to support a full blown these.
As such we thought it would be helpful to outline a number of thesis ideas that have the potential to make for great thesis topics for students to consider.
The Objective of the Thesis
Students have spent 3 years or 4 years or more in classroom training across a variety of subjects, some of which they were required to take and some of which they elected to take. Along the way they have accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and some experience.
The point of the thesis is to channel all of that education into a singular project that draws on and applies all, or much, of that training. Using learnings acquired through years of classroom courses and combining that with additional research, new thinking should be developed so as to coalesce all of that background into a thesis.
The thesis should both advance knowledge in the respective field, as well as advancing the knowledge and expertise of both the writers and any readers.
The thesis is usually a written document which may also be presented in an oral format. The Professor who sponsors and mentors the thesis 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 thesis, its content and its conclusions.
Potential Thesis Topics
As more and more educational institutions offer undergraduate and graduate Supply Chain Management programs, an ever increasingly exciting and well educated student population is getting to that stage in their programs where they need to complete theses or major projects to complete their degrees.
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 Supply Chain is a very broad, all-encompassing field, touching 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 breath of subject matter to learn about that any single aspect of the field could be its own degree program.
It is also exciting because Supply Chain is at the epicentre of most of what is going on in the world. The Coronavirus pandemic, climate change, digital technology, food waste and world hunger, sustainability, humanitarian aid, disaster planning and recovery, cyber security, and more are all issues for which Supply Chain plays either a leading, or supporting, role.
Here is our list of potential thesis ideas for Supply Chain students to consider. Some of these thesis ideas are very broad and some are narrower. Within this range are innumerable thesis possibilities.
1. The Digital Supply Chain
We live in the digital age. Every aspect of our lives is touched by digital technology. And Supply Chain is a part of that. The Digital Supply Chain in its widest expanses involves the real time, end to end electronic connectivity of 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 on and on and on.
Any one of these technologies is thesis worthy. Beyond these technologies themselves there are also the issues of cultural impacts, investment challenges, standardization and scalability, ease of implementation and ease of use, integration, and more. These ancillary considerations are very real, can be prohibitive to technological implementation, and are also great thesis topics.
2. The Resilient Supply Chain
If the importance of robust Supply Chains wasn’t apparent before the pandemic, the Coronavirus certainly exposed the fragility of global Supply Chains in virtually every industry in every country around the world. From masks to ventilators, to toilet paper to lumber to vehicles, goods of every kind have experienced supply-demand disruptions that have wide spread impacts on our lives.
On top of that it is true that there is always a disaster of some kind, whether natural or man-made, in any part of the world. These disasters cause all manner of disruptions to our lives and our economies. In some cases there are adequate disaster recovery plans and responses. But far too often there is insufficient planning and execution in dealing with these disasters, resulting in Supply Chain disruptions far and wide.
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 a supply chain’s components.
Factors that affect SCS include amount of waste, carbon footprint and emissions, air pollution, labor violations, deforestation and the health and safety of workers. SCS is based on the principle that socially responsible products and practices are not only good for the planet and the people who live here, they are also good for building positive brand awareness, minimizing environmental impact and improving long-term profitability.”
Sustainability is not only topical but it is an imperative for our collective future viability. Supply Chain is central to the development and implementation of solutions for improving any aspect of sustainability. Another great source of thesis topics with great contributions to society, our lives, and our planet.
We need to develop truly robust and resilient Supply Chains. We need fresh thinking on how to create this resiliency beyond the often meagre thinking that has gone into Supply Chain design to date. Theses based on any commodity or industry focussed on creating this resiliency would provide benefits with far reaching impacts.
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) account 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 so as to reduce climate impacts. A thesis tackling climate change in any of these areas can help all of us for all time.
5. Risk Management
A philosophy at the core of any Supply Chain strategy and operation is that of risk management. If your company is more risk averse then you may carry extra inventory and have more dual sources and operations. If you are less risk averse you may carry only just in time inventory, rely on single sources, and run a very lean operation.
There are pros and cons for either approach but the common denominator in either strategy is risk. The amount of risk you do or don’t assume will cost you money. If you run a lean operation then the slightest disruption can shut down your business very quickly. Yet if you run a very fat operation (eg. lots of redundant inventory) then the extra costs and cash demands can equally shut your business down.
A proper balance of Supply Chain considerations is necessary to ensure continued operation but in support of business realities (eg. cash). Risk management expertise needs to be elevated everywhere. A thesis focussed on optimizing risk management capabilities will shape Supply Chain strategies everywhere.
Thesis Ideas in Conclusion
The prospect of doing a University thesis can be daunting. It is demanding in every way with respect to your time and energy. As such it is necessary to pick a thesis topic that is both interesting to you as well as valuable to your educational institution and larger societal concerns.
Supply Chain is such an incredibly broad profession that it offers no end of challenges and opportunities. Within Supply Chain are innumerable topics for any thesis and for any interest.
We’ve offered several suggestions for your thesis. This thesis ideas list is by no means exhaustive but it is representative of the topics which we are interested in and which we consider to be top of mind at this time.
Good luck on your thesis on behalf of us here at Supply Chain Game Changer. And be sure to let us know what topics you choose for your thesis.