Daily Archives: February 19, 2013

Supply Management Economics Part I

One of the goals of SI is to continually educate its readers on topics that other blogs miss or ignore. One of those topics that continually gets brushed under the rug is that of Supply Management Economics. For a while the doctor has been trying to figure out why. Is it because economics is not that important? Is it because economics is assumed to be implicitly conveyed in the topics covered? Or is it because there is no firm grasp of economics where Supply Management is concerned?

The answer is still up in the air, but part of the problem is obviously due to a lack of understanding, which should not be surprised when one considers that where the economy is concerned in general, there is a lack of understanding. Consider this recent article from the economist on A Brief History of Macro: How We Got Here about macroeconomics and its poor reputation these days due to its continual failure to answer why America’s post-crisis recovery has been so slow and, more importantly, its inability to predict the biggest and most powerful downturn since the Great Depression. (Epic Fail!)

Basically, despite all of economists’ grandiose claims to the contrary, when it comes to large-scale national and international economics, modern macroeconomic theory just doesn’t have a good enough grip on reality, so how can you be sure standard Supply Management economics is right either, even if you understand it? You can’t. But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore it either. There are a number of principles that hold up well and provide insight into the market dynamics that impact your organization on a daily basis. And without a solid understanding of the basics, how will you judge market-based sourcing strategies presented to you by consultants and experts? Before you can judge a supply market strategy, you have to know how much confidence you can put it in, and that requires an understanding of economics, the solidity of the underlying principles that are being assumed, and the assumptions that are unsupported.

In this series we going to cover a bit of the basics, as well as a few recent advancements in Supply Management Economic theory that may advance your understanding of strategic supply (relationship) management and inject more value into your value chain. We don’t know all the answers, but those who do not seek never find.

So where do we begin? At the beginning, or at least close to it. Back in 1776, when America was declaring its independence, Adam Smith, a moral philosopher and Scottish economist published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations which offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth. (Source: Wikipedia) In this fundamental work of classical economics, Smith essentially states that real wealth is resources and the goods and services produced with them.

Based on this, we are led to the three basic questions of economics:

  1. What to Produce.
  2. For Whom to Produce it For? And
  3. How to Produce It?

Which brings us back to my question of why economics continually gets brushed under the rug when Supply Management IS Economics!