Cover: Toward Defense Supply Chain Disruption Management

Toward Defense Supply Chain Disruption Management

A Research Agenda for Defense Supply Chain Resilience

Published Mar 20, 2024

by Rebecca Lucas, Thomas Ekström, Paola Fusaro, Elizabeth Hastings Roer, Lucia Retter

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Research Questions

  1. From a defense perspective, what gaps exist in supply chain management research?
  2. What would constitute a research agenda to help build understanding of how defense supply chains can better withstand severe, unanticipated disruptions?

The authors' goal was to understand how defense supply chains can better withstand unanticipated and highly impactful disruptions whose probability and impact cannot be readily calculated or quantified. Specifically, the project team set out to identify the current state of the research on supply chain risk management (SCRM), supply chain disruption management (SCDM), and supply chain resilience, both within the defense sector and across the broader commercial landscape. The project team explored the unique characteristics of defense sector supply chains and the ways in which practices from other sectors might or might not be applicable. The team also sought to identify knowledge gaps or broader questions that might not appear in the literature. This study was co-led by RAND and the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut).

The authors found that more research is required to identify good strategies for SCDM for defense, as well as to identify how supply chain specialists and defense and security policymakers might implement these strategies across both the private sector and government. The authors therefore created a research agenda to help fill existing gaps in understanding how defense supply chains can better resist and recover from disruption.

Key Findings

  • The authors determined that more research is required to identify good strategies for SCDM for defense. The main gaps in understanding also represent some of the key enablers for effective defense SCDM.
  • The authors propose a research agenda with the following five areas to help fill gaps in understanding of how defense supply chains can better resist and recover from disruption: (1) Improve understanding of supply chain disruption, including the composition of defense supply chains and its associated stakeholders and actors. (2) Determine which commercial sector approaches to SCDM can be adapted for or adopted by defense. (3) Recognize and tackle challenges for SCDM stemming from the multisectoral nature of defense supply chains. (4) Clarify and distinguish between SCRM and SCDM to understand the benefits and challenges of each. (5) Define what resources are needed to enable implementation of defense SCDM.

Research conducted by

Funding for this research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security within RAND International.

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