Productivity, Supply Chains, and the Structure of Firms

Date: 11 December 2013
Speaker: Prof. John R. Birge


Productivity, Supply Chains, and the Structure of Firms Success in today’s global economy depends critically on the performance of complex supply chains interconnecting firms across industries, regions, and cultures. Despite their prevalence and importance, the overall productivity of a supply chain and the value of a firm’s supply chain connections are not well understood. This talk will discuss possible reasons for the difficulties in understanding productivity of these networks and will describe models to explain the networks’ function and performance. In particular, the talk will describe models of how supply chains enable firms to share risk and increase efficiency and will present empirical evidence of the relative value of suppliers and customers for firm success.

Speaker Bio

Prof. John R. Birge

Jerry W. and Carol Lee Levin Professor of Operations Management
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

John R. Birge received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University in Operations Research. His A.B. is from Princeton University in Mathematics. He is currently the Jerry W. and Carol Lee Levin Professor of Operations Management at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Previously, he was Dean of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University since 1999. He also served as Professor and Chair of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan where he was from 1980 to 1999. He established the University of Michigan Financial Engineering Program and was chair from its inception in 1997 until 1999.

Professor Birge’s work considers the design and analysis of practical systems in which some outcomes are not completely known before decisions must be made. He focuses on methods for making decisions that must be implemented sequentially over time. His research concerns the modeling of these systems to obtain robust decisions that are not just optimal for a single criterion but that respond favorably to whatever outcomes occur. In particular, he has developed methods for optimal asset and liability allocations over time, efficient periodic scheduling of workers and machines, productive power and energy distribution, and effective allocation of public services. Professor Birge is former Editor-in-Chief of Mathematical Programming, Series B . He also serves on the editorial boards of Mathematical Programming, Series A, Operations Research, Management Science, Interfaces, Computational Optimization and Applications, Management Science International Journal of Operations Management . In 1986, he was selected as an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator. He has also received the Medallion Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the Fellows Award from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the Inyong Ham Distinguished Lectureship from Pennsylvania State University, the E. Leonard Arnoff Memorial Lectureship on the Practice of Management Science, the 2004 Best Paper Award from the Japan Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the 2008 Kuhn Prize from the Naval Research Logistics journal, the 2008 George Kimball Prize from INFORMS, the 2010 Omega Rho Distinguished Lectureship, and the 2012 William P. Pierskalla Best Paper Award from the Health Applications Society of INFORMS. In 2011, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has served as Vice-Chair of the University of Michigan Senate Assembly, as well as Vice President-Subdivisions and President of INFORMS. He is author of two books and more than seventy refereed publications in a variety of journals.