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Operations management

A major interest for members of the sub-unit is around the implications of the quality management philosophy for a range of organizations across the public and private sectors.

This is reflected in research work that concentrates on supply management and business improvement. Research across the sub-unit supports current thinking regarding the integration of theories from other disciplines. This supports the views expressed in previous RAE assessments of the need to look at management problems from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

Research themes

Supply management

Cadden, Humphreys, McCracken, McHugh, McIvor, McKittrick, Yeung and Wiengarten have concentrated on the integration of theories including transaction cost economics (TCE), organizational theory and the resource-based view (RBV) to gain new perspectives with regard to the outsourcing decision-making process and supplier development strategies.

Cadden, McHugh, McCracken and McKittrick provide an organisational perspective with regard to supply management decisions and their impact on HR strategy, culture and technology. Given the increased focus on services outlined in the Sainsbury Report, current research on outsourcing is investigating the services domain with respect to business processes and is partially supported by grants from ICSA and the British Academy. McIvor has published a well-received research textbook on global services outsourcing published by Cambridge University Press.

In addition, Humphreys and McIvor have been collaborating with colleagues from the Institution's Faculty of Engineering to conduct work on the application of computational intelligence techniques to supply management problems. Carey complements the work of the group by adopting an OR perspective to investigating logistics issues related to managing dynamic traffic networks.

International and national linkages at University level include, Hong Kong Polytechnic, University of Hong Kong, Jinan (China), University College Dublin, Southampton, Loughborough, Groningen and Missouri. Collaboration with commercial organizations includes Nortel Networks, DuPont, Seagate Technology, Allied Bakeries, First Trust Bank, Microsoft and their SME supply base. The group has regular consultations with industry in order to identify common areas for research activities and ensure that the curriculum is informed by contemporary practice.

Business improvement

McAdam and Moffett apply a knowledge-centered approach to improving levels of creativity and innovation in the knowledge based economy. The work has resulted in the development of knowledge management assessment tools for intelligent business support systems, with prototype applications developed based on semantic technologies. An extension of this work, and partly funded by a number of EU grants, is the development of Innovation Management models and methodologies for use by public and private sector organizations. The research has explored the role of business improvement and quality management philosophies and methodologies in improving competitiveness from a critical perspective both in large organizations and SMEs. At the same time, McAdam and Moffett are examining innovation management within University Science Parks and Incubators (USPI) with regard to the development of theory and practice from an Absorptive Capacity (cumulative learning) perspective. A further strand of research involving Wu is investigating the influence of social capital on the innovation process. Currently, Wu and McAdam are looking at extending this work to consider organisational dynamic capabilities.

The group has international and national linkages with a number of universities, including Maryland, Denver, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt. There are also research linkages with a number of organisations, such as Bombardier Aerospace, British Telecom and a range of SMEs across Ireland.