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Supply Chain management in times of crisis: a systematic review

Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery Blog

Supply Chain Management in Times of Crisis: A Systematic Review

1 Introduction

Crises1 plague modern supply chains. Examples of crises include the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010) that discharged an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the Savar building collapse (2013) that caused 1129 human fatalities, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall (2016) estimated to have cost $5.3 bil­lion in losses. More recently, the pervasive influences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on every fabric of society reinforces the chaotic state of affairs of global crises that warrant a rethinking of supply chain management (SCM) (Sharma et al. 2020; Sarkis 2021; Yagi and Managi 2021). Noticeably, regularity in the occurrences of global crises specifically sheds the spotlight on state-of-the-art supply chains because these crises make material dependencies more apparent and raise political and societal debates on dealing with demands and supplies during cri­ses (Dewick et al. 2021). Such spotlights stem from increasing awareness that crises tend to be ‘black swan’ events that expose ‘black holes’ in institutions, leading to the emergence of new ‘black markets’ that exploit panicked customers along with poten­tial tests to ‘black spots’ of socioeconomic systems. Accordingly, efficacy of supply chains becomes paramount as organisations consider evolutions or revolutions in practice for resilience and survival.

Considering the influence of crisis vis-à-vis supply chains gives rise to interest­ing SCM issues for further exploration. For a start, there are research problems to explain SCM strategies in times of crisis for the efficacy of coordination mechanisms and the optimisation of centralised decisions. In this context, SCM literature contains accounts on the evaluation of orchestration strategies for supply stability and for innovative and value-added services that harness the specialisation and expertise of supply chain actors (Bian et al. 2021; Sumukadas 2021). There are also expositions on the importance of agility and flexibility for addressing volatility issues of demand based on SCM lessons learnt from dealing with previous crises (Do et al. 2021; Har­land 2021). However, the dominant theoretical and practical challenge remains to understand SCM complexities in times of crisis for improving supply chain resilience, with debates concerning a range of management issues such as the prioritisation of localisation (or regionalisation) over globalisation and inshoring over offshoring (Dewick et al. 2021). In the quest for resilience, there are consistent appeals by SCM scholars for studies of crises (Remko 2020; Al-Omoush et al. 2022) and an aware­ness of the strategic needs and many-sided complexities of SCM for crises (Siebert et al. 2020; Moretto and Caniato 2021). Yet, an analysis of the literature suggests that despite the renewed and continuing research interest on SCM in times of crisis, little is known about the range of complexities confronting supply chain managers and the array of strategic needs that motivate SCM reactions to crises. This gap in knowledge motivates our study.


The aim of this study is to review the literature on SCM in times of crisis, sys­tematically coalescing the related body of scholarly work; outlining current methods applied by researchers; capturing strategic priorities and themes of complexities in research studies; and highlighting potentials for future studies. The systematic review methodology (Jesson et al. 2011; Gough et al. 2012) guides the study and aids in developing theoretical foundations for SCM in times of crisis with insights from the literature.

This review contributes to existing SCM theory in two unique ways. Firstly, the review provides new critical insights into uncertainties associated with SCM in times of crises. Secondly, and with close links to the first contribution, the research analyses the priorities of SCM during times of crisis. In so doing, the study offers crisis-ori­ented theoretical insights on current research trends and discourse to advance current SCM understanding, and develops theoretical foundations for future SCM studies. The target group for the review is an international community of researchers and practitioners of SCM strategy, and driven by the aim and focus, the main research question for the review is:

What are the main strategies, priorities, and complexities of SCM in times of crisis in literature?

The remainder of the article presents the terminological foundation, methodology, and findings of the review. The article concludes with a discussion on theoretical foundations, managerial implications, and future scholarship for SCM research.

2 Supply chain management in times of crisis: terminological foundation and motivation

2.1 Defining supply chain crisis

Despite significant interests in previous SCM literature (e.g., Baldini et al. (2012); Hittle and Leonard (2011); Jüttner and Maklan (2011); Natarajarathinam et al. (2009); Pfohl et al. (2010); and Wagner et al. (2017)), an analysis of the literature suggests the lack of an inclusive definition for the supply chain crisis concept. However, in crisis management literature (Hermann 1963; Pearson and Clair 1998; Weick and Sutcliffe 2001; Wagner et al. 2017), an organisational crisis means a low-probability, high-consequence event that threatens organisational viability due to complexity and unpredictability in understanding the causes, consequences, and means of resolution. In contrast, an institutional crisis is a serious threat and state of flux that gradually or abruptly destroys the legitimacy of institutional structures (Boin et al. 2004). Closely related is a state crisis that threatens the basic values of regions with a high prob­ability of involving military hostilities and demands for response within a time frame (Brecher 1979). Though these forms of crises demand routine and crisis-induced flow of resources from supply chains (Mode 1), the notion of crisis within a supply chain (Mode 2 and Mode C), i.e. supply chain crisis and supply chain crisis in crisis times, shown by Fig. 1, is unique because it relates to SCM chaos, complications, and com­plexities that directly pertain to a supply chain (Sawyerr and Harrison 2019). Hence, a supply chain crisis pertains to supply chains but the scope of SCM in times of crisis is far-reaching due to organisational, institutional, and regional reliance on supply chains for sustaining socio-economic systems and establishing the foundations of economic growth.

Viewed as ‘complex systems’ (Childerhouse and Towill 2004) and ‘complex net­works’ (Van Der Vorst and Beulens 2002), supply chains: (i.) interlink suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors across multiple organisations, (ii.) involve supply chain partners that may be parts of other supply chains in different regions, (iii.) dis­play variations in operations according to institutional conditions, and (iv.) contain differing objectives of partners (Blackhurst et al. 2004). From this perspective, a sup­ply chain crisis stems from organisational, institutional, and state (or regional) causes and conditions facing suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. Accordingly, this article puts forward an inclusive view of supply chain crisis as.

a supply chain state or situation triggered by a low-probability, high-impact inci­dent that emerged gradually or abruptly from organisational, institutional and state (or regional) causes and conditions, threatening the values and viability of suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors, and imposing time pressures for supply chain deci­sions under high uncertainty.

Thus, supply chain crisis invariably has a negative connotation – demanding reac­tion cycles during pre-crisis phases of supply chain preparation and preparedness, intra-crisis phases of supply chain response and relief, and post-crisis phases of sup­ply chain recovery and restoration, as shown by Fig. 2. Within these cycles, SCM complexities stem from fragilities (Levine 2012; O’Leary 2020) and vulnerabilities (Hitzman et al. 2009; Merz et al. 2009; Kurniawan and Zailani 2010; Jüttner and Maklan 2011; Johnson et al. 2013; Armani et al. 2020) of complex networks and systems for resource distribution and coordination mechanisms. Potentials for dam­ages, destruction, or disruptions, also create insecurities among supply chain partners (Taylor et al. 2014) with unpredictability in global business environments (Tan and Enderwick 2006). These insecurities underscore the need for supply chain crisis sig­nals (Banterle and Stranieri 2008; Gao et al. 2012; Yuen et al. 2020) to ease recogni­tion. These signals aid partners enact collective (Chandes and Paché 2010), holistic (Aviso et al. 2018), inclusive (Smith 2010), resilient (Wang et al. 2016; Tan et al. 2016), or diversified (Chong et al. 2014; Calabrese and Vervaeke 2017; Koilo and Grytten 2019) SCM strategies. The cycle of Fig. 2 also reflects various constructs from the SCM literature related to general crisis management (Barnes and Olorun­toba 2005; Pearson et al. 2007; Ponis and Koronis 2012), humanitarian logistics man­agement (Tomasini and Van Wassenhove 2009), and disaster management (Miller et al. 2006; Carter 2008; Cozzolino et al. 2012).

2.2 Management motives for supply chains in times of crisis

Motivations for dedicated SCM to deal with crises2 stem from at least two main imperatives. The first imperative is the definitiveness of crisis events because “it is no longer a question of ‘if’ a business will face a crisis; it is, rather, a question of ‘when’, ‘what type’ and ‘how prepared’ the company is to deal with it” (Kash and Darling 1998; p. 179). Due to the increasing occurrences and on-going threats of crises, e.g. pandemic outbreaks, regional conflicts, and industrial accidents, researchers argue for a wider viability- and integrity-based view of SCM in times of crisis Rong and Grunow 2010; Cozzolino et al. 2012; Adem et al. 2018; Ivanov and Dolgui 2020; Ivanov 2020; Poberschnigg et al. 2020). Supply chains in times of crisis tend to expe­rience the usual supply, demand, control and logistical risks (Remko 2020; Raj et al. 2022a) associated with the regular flow shown by Fig. 1. However, unlike recurring operational disruptions, a crisis triggers extreme demand- and supply-shocks such as panic buying and changes in purchasing behaviour (Burgos and Ivanov 2021; Do et al. 2021) along with severe shortages of essential resources and labour (Dubey et al. 2021; Ozdemir et al. 2022; Raj et al. 2022a).

The second imperative is the competitiveness of crisis management practices that sheds the spotlight on opportunities for supply chains (Remko 2020; Chen and Biswas 2021). According to Paul Romer, a Nobel Laureate and former Chief Econo­mist of the World Bank, ‘ a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’ implying socioeco­nomic rewards for businesses that fine-tune their operations during crises (Panwar et al. 2012), such as firms providing telecommunications services for remote work during a pandemic (Overby et al. 2004). Additionally, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2019 Global Crisis survey of 2084 senior executives suggests that crisis pre­paredness could become a basis for competitiveness of firms and supply chains. In SCM literature, preparedness for crisis tends to exist as a function of desirable sup­ply chain abilities, summarised by Table 1, with some authors melding concepts to create higher-order constructs such transiliency from resiliency and transformability (Craighead et al. 2020), and leagility from leanness and agility (Ivanov 2020). Some studies posit on construct likes viability and survivability as encompassing agility, resilience, and sustainability (Ivanov 2020) while others examine abilities of abili­ties e.g. the integrity of quality (Schröder and Mceachern 2002). Although varied in focus, there is somewhat of a consensus on the nature of operational complexity (Adem et al. 2018) associated with desirable abilities, irrespective of the presence of a crisis, and in relation to issues such as loss of knowledge, falling demand, volatile exchange rates, unsatisfactory terminal productivity, and excessive shelf-life stocks. In consonance with strategic design for supply chain abilities, there is a need for stra­tegic decisiveness3 for resolving supply chain crisis situations (Barnes and Olorun­toba 2005; Burns and Marx 2014), particularly for supply chain crisis in crisis times (Mode C), as shown by Fig. 1. Such decisiveness requires firms to make urgent and swift decisions with high uncertainty (i.e., incomplete information) in high-pressure situations that tend to persist during the lifespan of a crisis, shown by Fig. 2. Thus, crisis-driven decision-making tends to be centralised due to the severe threat, time pressure, and high uncertainty associated with crisis (Rosenthal et al. 2001; Bian et al. 2021; Harland 2021). Such centralisation thesis underpins the coordination of high reliability organisations (HROs) and crisis-driven agencies (e.g. the police, the emergency medical services, and the armed forces).

Recent related reviews that analyse humanitarian operations strategy (Gold­schmidt and Kumar 2016; Jahre 2017), disruption recovery in supply chains (Ivanov et al. 2017), and supply chain resilience (Han et al. 2020), further reinforce the impor­tance and need for on-going reviews of SCM in times of crisis. Although a previous critical review captures practices and research trends of SCM in a crisis (Nataraja­ rathinam et al. 2009) – this is not the focus for our research. Rather, the interest in this research lies in the strategies and complexities of SCM and a systematic approach underpins our focus in this review. In so doing, this research methodically seeks to provide better understanding of the management practices for facilitating viability-and integrity-based views of SCM in times of crisis and to advance discourse on supply chain crisis preparedness and decisiveness.

3 Methodology

Guided by the systematic review methodology (Torgerson 2003; Tranfield et al. 2003), this study intends to learn lessons on strategic decisiveness from literature on SCM in times of crisis. The methodology suits this study because it involves using explicit algorithms to minimise bias and to provide an audit trail for drawing conclu­sions from focused findings. For this study, the review adopts the consecutive stages prescribed in Tranfield et al. (2003) i.e. planning, executing and reporting, shown by Fig. 3.

Planning involves developing and applying a review protocol (Torgerson 2003) detailing the purpose and scope of the review. In the protocol, the research aim acts as a guide for formulating the search strategy and identifying search strings. One main inclusion criterion informs the search and screening for review sources – empirical and theoretical peer-reviewed journal articles. This review’s focus on journal articles is deliberate and intends to limit the scope. Concentrating on peer-to-peer reviewed scientific articles is common practice in high-quality SCM reviews (e.g. Jahre (2017) and Han et al. (2020)) for propagating academic rigour, relevance, and quality. The planning for the review also involves selecting Scopus (accessible at www.scopus. com) (owned by Elsevier the Dutch publishing company) as the electronic database for finding, screening, and accumulating scientific articles. Scopus serves as the data­base for this review because it is the world’s largest online database for peer-reviewed scientific publications. The Scopus database is also widely accepted by the academic community due to the high relevance and scientific quality of content.

Executing entails searching for literature on the chosen database, i.e. Scopus, using a combination of keyword terms as search strings. The review applies “supply chain”, “crisis”, and “crises”, with Boolean Operators ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ to clarify logical relationships between terms and to combine search terms. The combination of terms creates the main search string for the review i.e. ‘“supply chain” AND “cri­sis”’ OR “supply chain” AND “crises”’, for use in scanning the titles, abstracts and keywords of English language publications to select relevant sources. Although the review excludes duplicates and articles with limited focus on supply chain crisis, the main exclusion criteria and omissions by the review are book chapters, conference papers, masters’ theses, doctoral dissertations, textbooks, and unpublished working papers. Initial search produced 1747 outcomes, and limiting the search to English language journal articles, generated 943 results. Following screening, scanning, and cross-referencing for duplicates and relevance, the executing phase identifies 250 unique articles for use in the review.

Reporting concerns conveying the findings of the review and follows a synthe­sis of the main findings from retrieved articles into an analytical and critical coher­ent statement. The comprehensive analysis of the accumulated body of literature of journal articles published from 1996 to 2021, shown by Fig. 4, follows access and retrieval of these sources and precedes the synthesis.

In keeping with the systematic review methodology (Jesson et al. 2011; Gough et al. 2012), thematic analysis (Guest et al. 2012; Nowell et al. 2017) guides the synthe­sis and its use in the review centres on scrutinising, categorising, and detailing con­cepts in studies. This process involves reading and analysing the body of literature in line with the research questions, using triangulation and tabulation tools to develop concepts, and co-opting a group of eight SCM researchers to assess the reliability and validity of proposed themes. Sub-themes and themes emerge from this process dur­ing the assessment of research similarities and disparities of concepts. Through steps for data reduction involving reading, familiarising, and generating initial codes, the review clusters and reports themes on SCM strategies, priorities, and complexities.

4 Findings

Table 2 summarises the methodologies used in reviewed studies and the distribu­tions are as follows: 74 (29.6%) decision and systems model, 57 (22.8%) interview-based and case studies, 48 (19.2%) theoretical and conceptual studies, 23 (9.2%) econometric and statistical analysis-based studies, 19 (7.6%) secondary, historical, and literature analysis-based studies, 18 (7.2%) survey-based studies, and 11 (4.4%) mixed methodology studies. Similarly, Table 3 provides an overview of theories in the review according to of behaviour-, context-, decision-, performance-, resource-and systems-oriented groupings. This section begins by analysing contexts of supply chains in times of crisis before outlining priorities for SCM strategies and themes of complexities in times of crisis.

4.1 Supply chains in times of crisis

Literature suggests four main contexts for supply chains that trigger reactions in times of crisis: (i) widespread product-related contamination and compromised production (PCCP), (ii) severe process-related shortages and suspended production (PSSP), (iii) severe supplier-related debt and depressed sales (SDDS), and (iv) widespread deep tensions and trade-related disputes (DTTD), as presented by Table 4. These contexts threaten reputation capital among consumers (Ponis and Koronis 2012; Thangaraj and Chan 2012; Matopoulos et al. 2019), evaporate consumer confidence in suppliers (Wales et al. 2006), make consumers feel a betrayal of their trust in brands (Gao et al. 2012), but afford customers with opportunities to switch over a finite time horizon (Madichie and Yamoah 2017).

Mainly considered an industry-wide problem, widespread PCCP characterises the product-harm crisis (Gao et al. 2012) and recall crisis (Andrews et al. 2011; Dab­bene and Gay 2011) that corrode trust in supply chains. Recognising the increased occurrences of high-profile contamination-related events (Kaufman et al. 2014) and their significant impact on product integrity (e.g. halalan toyyiban integrity) (Abd Razak et al. 2020), SCM researchers study widespread PCCP in a variety of contexts. Examples include supply chains for food (Meuwissen et al. 2009; Gao et al. 2012), drugs (Li et al. 2017; Azghandi et al. 2018), automobiles (Andrews et al. 2011), and consumer goods (Kumar and Budin 2006; Memon et al. 2015). In contrast, the emer­gence of severe PSSP reflect concerns for an on-going “shortage syndrome” (Shaw 1996) that triggers shortage crises (Azghandi et al. 2018; Cole 2021) and capacity crises (Boyce 2016). For some authors, shortages induce complex emergencies such as societal breakdown, technology failure, and economic crisis (Piotrowicz 2018) or when suppliers fall foul of the law (Madichie and Yamoah 2017), while the joint occurrence of such emergencies tend to cause serious losses, injuries, and fatalities (Johnson et al. 2013; Yan et al. 2019). It is for this reason that in some industries like the food sector, severe PSSP (along with widespread PCCP) are considered the main challenges for supply chains (Abd Razak et al. 2020).

Severe SDDS pertains to dire economic situations and halted sales that trigger corporate insolvencies and supplier bankruptcies with significant impacts on part­ners who have limited contingency plans (Blome and Schoenherr 2011). With roots mainly in funding, financial and economic crises, literature notes that during these crises, firms typically file for bankruptcy for protection due to various reasons. Exam­ples include business failure (Li et al. 2012), global sales crash and significant sales dips e.g. for cars during the 2008 to 2009 global financial crisis (Domański et al. 2013; Calabrese and Vervaeke 2017), or product price falls e.g. for oil and gas prices from the summer of 2014 and onwards (Koilo and Grytten 2019). Another indicator of supply chain crisis is the widespread DTTD that stems from the deep tense rela­tionships in climates of distrust, e.g. between farmers, food companies, and retailers in food supply chains (Arcidiacono 2018; Desoutter and Lavissière 2018). The litera­ture also notes regionalisation (protectionism) and globalisation tensions (Gawande et al. 2015) that impact support levels for firms from home governments (Fiset and Dostaler 2013). Such tensions and disputes render port and trade routes vulnerable (Barnes and Oloruntoba 2005) with insecurities in trade network structures concern­ing vertical and horizontal trade relationships, as well as direct and indirect trade connections (Pinior et al. 2012a, b). Widespread DTTD uniquely accounts for the competitiveness crisis (Dibben et al. 2020) that forces suppliers to engage in regional cooperation for closely-knit industrial districts.

Literature also captures a range of compounding effects characterising crises and this review categorises these effects according to cumulative, combinative, compli­cating, and cascading forms, as shown by Fig. 5. Negatively, these effects tend to extend durations and impacts (direct and indirect) of crises (Meuwissen et al. 2009; Adem et al. 2018). However, these effects also fortuitously or coincidentally gen­erate benefits for new businesses such as the short-lived gains by the pork supply chains during the AI/BSE incidents (Park et al. 2008) and private-jet travel during the SARS outbreak (Overby et al. 2004). Cumulative effects reflect supply chain swings and amplification of crisis from incidents with linkages to predecessors (e.g. several food crises or disease outbreaks). These effects strongly affect production (Sans et al. 2005) and have greater impact on global business environments (Tan and Ender­wick 2006). Combinative effects indicate supply chain shifts and aggregation of crisis consequences with increased peril due to the combination of multiple exogenous crisis incidents (Desoutter and Lavissière 2018) that lead to changing attitudes of society towards production systems (Lehmann et al. 2011). For instance, a subprime mortgage crisis combined with the credit crunch of an economic recession (Smith 2010) or the Covid-19 pandemic compounding an uncontrollable humanitarian crisis (Baveja et al. 2020). Complicating effects magnify crisis consequences due to the unexpected occurrences and sometimes deliberate activities that worsen crisis states e.g. network failures that exacerbate public crisis (Roshan et al. 2019) or media cov­erage that overstate and inflate scares (Loader and Hobbs 1996) or undermine belief in competence and trustworthiness (Wales et al. 2006). Cascading effects are con­tagion (Lamieri and Sangalli 2019), ripple (Hale and Moberg 2005), and multiplier (Levine 2012) effects of independent shocks on value chains. Here, the suggestion is that linkages between partners and processes heighten the vulnerability and suscep­tibility of supply chains with disruptions to individual links triggering a cascade of supplier-, internally- and customer-induced operational disruptions (Tan et al. 2016; Wagner et al. 2017).

Table 5 provides a range of SCM strategies during crisis identified by the review. These strategies include framing, technological solutions, management systems, institutional standards and regulations, network designs, decision models, regional and organisational policies, and management programs and practices. Inevitably, the focus of these strategies is to deliver solutions for preparedness and responsiveness that is, for some scholars, workable (Dey et al. 2020) with swift turnarounds on a global scale supported by standby infrastructure, and for others, ambidextrous (Fiset and Dostaler 2013) with support for crisis and calm modes that transition seamlessly through integration to design.

The synthesis of the literature also identifies four main dimensions for restorative priorities of crisis-induced operations, as compared by Fig. 6 in relation to competi­tive priorities. These dimensions relate to aspirational, conditional, and preferential emphasis in the range of strategies, captured by Table 5, and guide actions towards re-establishing normality in the aftermath of a crisis incident (Dey et al. 2020) to the ‘world out of balance’ (von der Gracht and Darkow 2013).

4.2.1 Critical supplies with essential services

Critical supplies with essential services is the first operational priority for the fulfil­ment of strategic commodities (e.g. providing essential drugs during pandemics or in the aftermath of natural disasters) (Mohanty and Chakravarty 2013; Goodarzian et al. 2020; Zhu et al. 2020; Natarajan and Prasad 2021). Literature also notes imperatives for the sustainment of strategic industries (Han et al. 2018; Pashapour et al. 2019), especially the transportation, warehousing, and utilities (TWU) super sectors (Boyce 2016) that provide essential services like electricity supply and water management. Failure in these fulfilment and sustainment imperatives tend to exacerbate crisis states, compound crises, and worsen crisis management performance outcomes by triggering production downtimes and socio-economic and environmental damages to organisations, institutions, and regions. The importance of this priority underpins strategic use of super facilities that manage demands and mitigate failure of dedicated facilities for TWU and service delivery (Benaïcha and Hadj-Alouane 2013). This pri­ority also demands strategic investments in information-driven service value chains for mitigating stresses on sectoral systems and for using critical supplies to control and contain crises within administrative zones (Siekmans et al. 2017; Li et al. 2017;

4.2.2 Timely response with recovery

Timely response with recovery is the next priority involving the fast deployment of capacities (e.g. mobile units and logistic support) for rapid responses that prevent crisis propagation (Vybornova and Luc 2019) and for the coordination of upstream/ downstream transactions (Resende-Filho and Hurley 2012; Yan et al. 2019). Rapid disaster and emergency response often make the difference between fatality and recovery rates of humanitarian relief operations in conflict and disaster zones (Zhang et al. 2019; Kovács and Sigala 2021) or during disease outbreaks (Thompson and Anderson 2021) and public health emergencies (e.g. widespread product contami­nation with harmful health consequences) (Iftekhar and Cui 2021; Mollenkopf et al. 2021). Timeliness is also central for deploying recovery mechanisms (Hale and Moberg 2005; Lin et al. 2021; Fan and Liu 2021) and for risk communications with stakeholders (Benson 2011) determined by macroeconomic rapid response decision policies and coordinated response programs (Thangaraj and Chan 2012; Chaturvedi et al. 2014; Deconinck et al. 2020). Due to this priority, crisis managers strategically need to consider time scarcity (Raspor 2008), teleology (i.e. directive principles) for timely responses (Svensson 2010), and time frames (i.e. short-term, medium-term, and long-term) (Kumar and Havey 2013) that usually depend on context-specific interventions and configurations.

4.2.3 Safety with security

Safety with security, as an operational priority, represents protection from dangers and threats as a guiding and precautionary principle for crisis. On the one hand, security as a concept means deliberate interventions to guard against premeditated attempts to contaminate or cause damages. On the other hand, safety is more encom­passing of protective statuses by virtue of intentional and unintentional supply chain practices (Loader and Hobbs 1996). Both constructs represent significant endogenous and exogenous risk levels (Rong and Grunow 2010) with sabotage issues that trig­ger massive product recalls (Memon et al. 2015) driven by hypothetical standalone and compounding effects. Thus, safety along with security potentially represent the foremost restorative priority in times of crisis. Yet, safety exists as a multi-layered construct for strategists as per through-life considerations for supply chains (Raspor 2008; Benson 2011) and occurrences of safety crises and incidents of major defects in production processes and materials (Resende-Filho and Hurley 2012). Mainly advanced by food and health supply chains (Sans et al. 2005; Storoy et al. 2013; Raab et al. 2013), the loci of crisis-driven security and safety centres on agencies (e.g. the United Nations and the World Health Organisation) that provide safeguards, e.g., product labelling legislation (Lee and Marsden 2009) and social safety nets (Deconinck et al. 2020). Additionally, security uniquely represents a governance con­cern for the supply chains of public services (Sojamo et al. 2012), for supplier safety stocks (Zhu et al. 2020), and for company security threats such as piracy, terrorism, and wars (Hale and Moberg 2005; Urciuoli et al. 2014).

4.2.4 Traceability with transparency

Traceability with transparency, the final priority, involves tracking and tracing technologies and policies for crisis management systems that promote accountabil­ity. Traceability systems precisely and deeply log histories and locations of resources along supply chains (Banterle and Stranieri 2008; Dabbene and Gay 2011; Resende- Filho and Hurley 2012; Storoy et al. 2013; Iftekhar and Cui 2021) and transpar­ency systems accurately and clearly communicate regulatory, business, consumer, and technological requirements for supply chains (Kassahun et al. 2014). Tracking follows the downstream flow of resources in a forward top-down approach while tracing identifies product origins within supply chin partners in a backward bottom-up approach.

Internal (Comba et al. 2013) and network (Lu et al. 2019; Zhu et al. 2020) trace­ability offer areas of concerns for strategists that motivate decisiveness in the adop­tion of tracking and authentication-based information technology (IT) instruments such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags bar codes, and recently, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, and digital twins. Other viewpoints for strategy involve real-time transparency (Burgos and Ivanov 2021), using third-party transpar­ency service providers (Kassahun et al. 2014), and traceability capabilities based on trade and governance structures (Gereffi and Lee 2012; Pinior et al. 2012a). Asym­metric, inaccurate, and incomplete information within supply chains in times of crisis (Gorton et al. 2006; Steiner and Yang 2010; Zhang 2020) also motivates prioritisation of supply chain mapping (Desoutter and Lavissière 2018) and supply chain records (Gessner et al. 2007). Although these technologies and capabilities support other priorities by fostering decisiveness through industry statistics on operational con­trol metrics (Rong and Grunow 2010), particular benefits for traceability with trans­parency remain a driving force for specific SCM strategies. The strategies include effective product recalls (Rong and Grunow 2010; Memon et al. 2015), identifying contaminants in production and distribution networks (Gessner et al. 2007), enhanc­ing redistribution of liability among partners through quality signalling (Banterle and Stranieri 2008), and boosting sustainability of production (Lehmann et al. 2011).

4.3 Supply chain management complexities in times of crisis

Broadly speaking, six themes (CPS2) of operational complexity, as summarised by Table 6, account for the generation and perception of uncertainty for SCM in times of crisis. Viewed from a perspective of crisis-driven transitions, these themes mainly relate to the necessary structural changes that trigger shifts mainly in production and upgrade policies (Kumar and Budin 2006; Sass and Szalavetz 2013; Notteboom et al. 2021; Schiele et al. 2021). Additional shifts due to these changes include product positioning (Grando 2008), risk-sharing (Fiset and Dostaler 2013), IT use (O’Leary 2020), and reforms to institutions and regions for enhanced collaboration and equity (Tan and Enderwick 2006; Dey et al. 2020; Spash 2021). The themes also concern behavioural changes that reflect attitudes and beliefs to ease adoption of structural changes (Gao et al. 2012; Baveja et al. 2020) and to advance negotiations over crisis-induced litigations (Singleton and Cormican 2013).

4.3.1 Network configurations for collaborations and control

The network configuration theme characterises crisis-induced complexities and challenges for practically and robustly (re)configuring resources (e.g., super facili­ties) (Benaïcha and Hadj-Alouane 2013; Chang and Lin 2019), distribution networks to harness downstream and upstream processes (Jüttner and Maklan 2011), formal and informal supply channels (Gorton et al. 2006), and internal and external flows (Poberschnigg et al. 2020). Due to the complex dynamics of supply chains in times of crisis, researchers note two main network configuration constructs. First, capacity cooperation and collaboration (Yan et al. 2019; Harland 2021; Harland et al. 2021) for relationship management and cross-functional integration that facilitates compet­itive and cooperative negotiations (Kaddouci et al. 2009). Second, real-time control with coordination and governance to maintain security and quality of tiered-suppliers (Lau et al. 2008; Andrews et al. 2011; Fischbacher-Smith and Smith 2015), and to manage power imbalances due to the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) (Adem et al. 2018). Complexities of crisis-induced collaboration and control also causes supply chain managers to revisit risk management practices (Madichie and Yamoah 2017) for coping with situation dependent decisiveness that generates temporary or permanent network solutions (Richey 2009; Zhu et al. 2020; Thompson and Anderson 2021). Literature also notes complexities in SCM concerning adjust­able autonomy of agents (Lau et al. 2008), rebalancing of power relationship between Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers (Chanaron 2013), and rein­forcing the role of local production systems and domestic manufacturers (Domański et al. 2013; Butu et al. 2020; Handfield et al. 2020; Bassett et al. 2021).

4.3.2 Business cycles for costs and contracts

The business cycle theme reflects the complex interplay of supply chains and finan­cial networks required to mitigate corporate distress, maintain economic activities during expansion and recession, or sustain business operations during routine or crisis-induced situations. For SCM scholars, crisis poses quandaries of cash-to-cash cycle orientation to boost financial flows in supply chains (Leitner and Stehrer 2013; Liu 2013; Brandenburg 2016), and dilemmas of supply chain financing that concern investments to support survival and growth (Zhang et al. 2019; Doan and Bui 2020). Broadly, there are global challenges of business cycle orientation to harness financial and credit market knowledge (Panwar et al. 2012; Wagner et al. 2017) and business cycle synchronisation for economic growth amongst countries (Khidil et al. 2021). Unique challenges also exist to confront financial and liquidity imbalances that prop­agate along supply chains (Udenio et al. 2015; Lamieri and Sangalli 2019; Koilo and Grytten 2019), capital adequacy of banks (Koniagina et al. 2019), credit channels (Smith 2010), and financial reporting that includes conditional conservatism – a trait of customers preferred by suppliers (Zhang 2020). Here, the practical concerns range from toxic debts and late payments by supply chain entities (e.g. suppliers and cus­tomers) with pressures for supply chain mangers, in spite of the existence of a crisis, to improve balance sheets and financial positions of companies (Thangaraj and Chan 2012).

Within the business cycle theme, two main constructs dominate the SCM dis­course. First, research highlights crisis costs in regards to recall costs (e.g. for repair­ing or destroying recalled products and cost of notification) (Dabbene and Gay 2011; Memon et al. 2015), spikes in transportation costs (Burgos and Ivanov 2021), and hidden transaction costs for reverse logistics and traceability (Loader and Hobbs 1996; Yang et al. 2009; Min and Kim 2011). There are also unexpected costs due to the complex behaviour of reconfigured networks during crisis (Vo and Thiel 2011) – aside from routine labour, production, service, and operational costs. Second, cri­sis contracting is a multi-faceted concern to consider the nuances and niceties of developing and applying self-enforcing (Gorton et al. 2006) multi-tier coordina­tion contracts that facilitate risk- and revenue-sharing among supply chain partners (McDermott and Hayes 2018; Bian et al. 2021). Additional SCM focus entails con­tractual innovation (e.g. tripartite contracts between retailers, producers, and industry associations) (Mazé 2002), competence to formalise and fulfil contracts (Mazé 2002; Li et al. 2012), and competitive tendering processes (McDermott and Hayes 2018; Morales-Contreras et al. 2021). Evidence from post-crisis analyses frequently note the need for new forms of contracts to address different sectoral concerns e.g. ‘care and rules’ to improve safety in food supply chains (Mora and Menozzi 2005) and ‘extensification’ of work time for suppliers following financial crises (Taylor et al. 2014).

4.3.3 Learning processes for plans and proactivity

Complex learning process denotes difficulties associated with acquiring and har­nessing knowledge for proactive crisis plans. Literature suggests that the sophisti­cated interdependencies in supply chains warrant comprehensive advanced plans for involving crisis management teams in the face of adversity to promote business conti­nuity (Merz et al. 2009) and emergency preparedness (Cozzolino et al. 2012). Due to SCM complexities of network configurations, researchers recommend ‘data-driven’ forward and contingency plans. These plans entail integrated learning processes to understand risks and benefits, anticipate crisis situations, deliver effective responses, document alternative responses, and prepare partners to react accordingly (Gatignon et al. 2010; Hanna et al. 2010; VanVactor 2011; Burns and Marx 2014; Siekmans et al. 2017; Remko 2020; Fearne et al. 2021; Sumukadas 2021). Critical factors noted in these plans include the importance and intricacies of strong leadership, effective communication, trade-offs, talent management, multi-sourcing, diverse capacity including alternatives and back-ups, and access to funds for survival during crisis. Wider SCM challenges from lessons learnt include balancing aspects of standardi­sation, nationalisation, regulation, digitalisation, collaboration, and innovation for supply chains (Quayson et al. 2020; Zhu et al. 2020; Harland et al. 2021; Kovács and Sigala 2021; Sarkis 2021).

Learning from mistakes remains a core SCM challenge irrespective of the state of affairs and despite evidence (Svensson 2010) suggesting that backlashes sooner or later emerge following a period of prosperity and growth or just plain normal­ity. Thus, capturing data to prompt preparedness for future crisis is a critical area of concern for proactivity in times of crisis (Natarajarathinam et al. 2009; Craighead et al. 2020). This capability aids in responding to ongoing and emergent public and supply chain concerns (Overby et al. 2004), monitoring the business environment (Panwar et al. 2012), identifying crisis sources (Lu et al. 2019), and holistically man­aging risks (Pfohl et al. 2010; Blome and Schoenherr 2011; Hittle and Leonard 2011; Fischbacher-Smith and Smith 2015; Schiele et al. 2021). The literature also indi­cates that tapping into knowledge from organisational silos (Andrews et al. 2011) and experiences of HROs boosts the proactivity of mindful organisations and affords supply chains with the ability to circumvent disruptions and sustain operation under continuously precarious and complex conditions (Sawyerr and Harrison 2019). Stud­ies observe that mutual learning from entities within and beyond the supply chain and learning through years of experience provide the foundation for pre-positioning capabilities (Mazé 2002; Ergun et al. 2010) and generating operational principles for better public health protection (Raspor 2008) and total-business-solution approaches to brand protection (Wilson and Grammich 2020).

4.3.4 Demand predictions for procurement and performance

Complex demand prediction offers another theme describing challenges related to variabilities, volatilities, and vulnerabilities of demand and how crisis-driven uncer­tainties perturbs decisiveness for procurement with impacts on the performance of supply chains. Fundamentally, demand patterns and buying behaviours are different in a crisis (O’Leary 2020; Gupta et al. 2021). Demands may emerge transiently (e.g. in a fuel panic) (Upton and Nuttall 2014), surge sporadically (e.g. in a pandemic) (Butu et al. 2020; Yuen et al. 2020; Kim and Zhao 2021; Kovács and Sigala 2021; Dulam et al. 2021; Al Zoubi et al. 2021), or evolve dynamically (e.g. in a financial crisis) (Udenio et al. 2015; Ferrer-Pérez et al. 2019).

Focus on value during demand predictions spurs interest in value-based procure­ment for collaborative relationships (Meehan et al. 2017; Fearne et al. 2021), reviews of existing contracts (Allal-Chérif and Maira 2011), and maximising utility via recov­ering and regenerating products and materials (Sprecher et al. 2017). The interplay of local procurement with other forms of crisis-induced sourcing and resource flow also preoccupies SCM researchers (Dewick et al. 2021; Harland et al. 2021) with varying interests. For instance, there are research interests in reviewing the direct and indirect spending by manufacturing and service firms (Blome and Schoenherr 2011). Other interests include supporting in-kind donations alongside cash transfers during emergencies and disasters (Piotrowicz 2018), and case-by-case sourcing strategies (e.g. outsourcing, offshoring, and global sourcing) (Hanna et al. 2010; Min and Kim 2011; Taylor et al. 2014; Dufour et al. 2018; Dewick et al. 2021).

Ultimately, SCM scholars argue that the challenges for demand predictions remain to improve or restore supply chain performance even during crisis periods (Bran­denburg 2016). Practical dilemmas for supply chain performance include integrating sustainability performance measurement in master plans (Ortas et al. 2014; Laguna- Salvadó et al. 2019) and curbing the cascading effects of poor performance by major, dominant, and exemplar corporations on regional supply chains (Sanchez-Ramirez et al. 2011). An additional performance-related challenge concerns maintaining the joint stability, resilience, sustainability, and viability of global supply chains by strik­ing a balance between quality, safety, and costs (Vo and Thiel 2011; Thiel et al. 2014; Nassar et al. 2020; Kaeo-Tad et al. 2021; Sarkis 2021).

4.3.5 Optimal selections for sites and stock

The optimal selection theme characterises a critical decisiveness challenge for opti­mally locating, allocating, and using critical operational resources. Within the lit­erature, optimal selection in times of crisis is subject to complex decision-making requirements for deploying capacities (Vybornova and Luc 2019), to shake outs of installed surplus regional capacity intended to fulfil higher demands (Lamming 2000), and to partnership diagnosis for contracts and collaboration (Li et al. 2012). In pursuant of SCM efficacy during crisis, researchers particularly note the importance of agile and lean thinking principles (Yang et al. 2009; Hanna et al. 2010; Cozzolino et al. 2012; Roshan et al. 2019; Fearne et al. 2021) and transdisciplinary SCM (Sarkis 2021).

Generally, optimality in light of supply chain crises is a challenge foremost for selecting production and distribution sites to properly position facilities like super facilities, and collection and distribution centres (Benaïcha and Hadj-Alouane 2013; Manenti et al. 2013; Babazadeh et al. 2017; Dufour et al. 2018). The next optimality challenge involves selecting site capacities to optimise staff headcount and emer­gency resources for total quality management (Hale and Moberg 2005; Nagoev et al. 2020), and selecting optimal distribution methods (Goodarzian et al. 2020). Other optimality challenges entail stock (and inventory) management to establish and maintain minimal stock levels of inventory for continuous resource flow despite crisis-driven disruptions, escalations, urgent needs, widespread stockouts, and crisis predicaments. Interests in crisis stocks span objectives to establish minimal levels for cyclic, seasonal, safety, preparedness, and contingency forms of stocks (VanVactor 2011; Azghandi et al. 2018; Zhu et al. 2020; Kovács and Sigala 2021) along with destocking (Udenio et al. 2015), buffering (Vo and Thiel 2011; Thiel et al. 2014), and stock rotation processes (Ozbay and Ozguven 2007). These complex site and stock considerations support the optimisation of push-pull supply chains for build-to-stock (BTS) and build-to-order (BTO) approaches (Pfohl et al. 2010; Parry and Roehrich 2013).

General areas for optimal selection in the literature include optimising the auton­omy of supply chain agents (Lau et al. 2008), selecting and managing suppliers (Blome and Schoenherr 2011; Xia et al. 2020; Fasan et al. 2021; Fearne et al. 2021), and business model selection (Chen and Biswas 2021). There are also specific opti­mal selection complexities for refugee sites (Drakaki et al. 2018), credence attributes associated with product labels (Steiner and Yang 2010), and for counterfeits in essen­tial drug stocks (Mackey and Liang 2011).

4.3.6 Provisioning systems for services and sustainability

The provisioning system theme is a crucial operational challenge to maintain critical systems that deliver services and promote sustainable consumption and production. In times of crisis, maintaining sustainable services requires management systems that improve traceability (Lu et al. 2019; Iftekhar and Cui 2021), regional systems that protect local producers against foreign competition (Kuokkanen et al. 2017; Arci­diacono 2018), and global systems with comprehensive conventions that cultivate international cooperation and collaboration capacity for resilience, sustainability, and security (Lee and Marsden 2009). Here, managers of supply chains strive to reduce system complexity to boost distribution channels that deliver regular and emergency goods to consumers (Han et al. 2018) and vulnerable people (Vaillancourt et al. 2018), and to support reconstruction during the post-crisis phase (Kovács et al. 2010; Kovács and Sigala 2021).

With on-going supply chain imperatives for climate change mitigation (Meng et al. 2020) and for achievement of the triple bottom line of economic, environmental, and societal prosperity (Mazzarino 2012; Parry and Roehrich 2013), supply chain crisis managers confront complexities for sustainability along two main perspectives. First, as an anchor of crisis response through sustainable SCM that evaluates and enhances supply chain performance in times of crisis, e.g., business operations dur­ing financial crises (Ortas et al. 2014), pandemic events (Sarkis 2021), or distribu­tion of emergency goods during humanitarian crises (Laguna-Salvadó et al. 2019). Second, as a matter of crisis that adopts an industrial ecology to transition away from stand-alone, once-through operations to complex network configurations (Sprecher et al. 2017) and conservation-based paradigm (Panwar et al. 2012). Here, the chal­lenge varies with some focus on harnessing energy sources (e.g. nuclear, hydro, solar or wind) with minimal pollutants (Miao et al. 2014), and curbing excessive dumps of synthetic material (e.g. synthetic fertilizers) from production systems (Kuokkanen et al. 2017). Added attention is on limiting the exclusive use of virgin materials for production (Yang et al. 2009), and connecting environmental quandaries to social problems like social inequality and injustice (Wilhelm et al. 2020).

5 Discussion

Conventionally, SCM offers network orchestration (Bian et al. 2021) of interlinkages (Lu et al. 2019) between heterogeneous participants (mainly suppliers and custom­ers) within complex systems and networks for routine flow of resources (Mode N), as shown by Fig. 1. However, in times of crisis, SCM confronts potential Mode 1 crisis in organisations, institutions and regions, Mode 2 crisis within supply chains, or a combination of both modes in a Mode C crisis with potential compounding effects, as illustrated by Fig. 5. Times of crisis also trigger the involvement of unique sectoral participants (e.g. health care centres, governments, NGOs, and military personnel) in restorative supply chains that facilitate crisis containment and mitigate potential compounding effects to far-off supply chain, organisational, institutional, or regional links (Ergun et al. 2010; Baldini et al. 2012; Adem et al. 2018; Harland et al. 2021).

This study reviews the literature on SCM in times of crisis (related to Modes 1, 2, and C), and this section discusses the theoretical foundations and some of the mana­gerial implications due to the conducted review. The section also sets an agenda of potential areas for future research.

5.1 Theoretical foundations for management research

Findings from this review advance scholarship through a multi-level model of SCM in times of crisis, as shown by Fig. 7, which amalgamates the key review insights. The model presents contexts for a supply chain crisis and the main strategies and complexities associated with SCM in times of crisis. The model also emphasises restorative priorities for operations strategy in times of crisis, and theoretical foun­dations of crisis-driven models for mitigating supply chain fragility, vulnerability and insecurity discussed in the next subsections, particularly in relation to key crisis conundrums.

5.1.1 Build-to-cycle for business

Literature suggests a SCM conundrum involving the prioritisation of BTS or BTO (Pfohl et al. 2010; Parry and Roehrich 2013), in line with decision- and systems-ori­ented theories of Table 3. Here, SCM contends with cyclic inventory for supporting routine operations and with seasonal inventory for anticipating predictable increases in market demand (Natarajarathinam et al. 2009). BTS highlights stock capacity with forecasts that minimise production delay while BTO emphasises customer demand with production practices that minimise inventory waste. However, a crisis triggers specific demands, i.e., crisis-induced demands and buying behaviours, along with associated crisis contracting and costs, and accompanied by considerations for busi­ness cycle orientations, as suggested by this review. Thus, there is a need for alterna­tive SCM frames that reflect such considerations.

‘Build-to-cycle’ (BTC) systems and decision framing of SCM stresses knowledge management with network configuration and business cycle intelligence that mini­mises potential additional costs due to crisis incidents and impending deviant situ­ations. Knowledge management, in the context of BTC, pertains to proactive SCM plans and preparedness that embed and prioritise timely response with recovery pro­tocols for crises through accumulating knowledge capabilities, models, and intel­ligence on markets, trade, and governance structures (Gereffi and Lee 2012; Panwar et al. 2012; Ponis and Koronis 2012), in line with event systems theory. In addition, there are unique needs for supply chains to formulate knowledge-intensive business functions with crisis-driven upgrades (Sass and Szalavetz 2013) and organisational silos (Andrews et al. 2011), prioritising loss avoidance during crisis, in keeping with prospect theory. Such considerations contribute to organisational-wide public-pri­vate perspectives within a BTC framing – beyond inventory and production of BTS and BTO – for optimal selection and reconfiguration of super facilities, and collec­tion and distribution centres that act as stores for supporting traceability and surge management.

5.1.2 Organic capabilities for provisioning

Globalisation that motivates transboundary exchange environments is often cited as magnifying the severity and shock of crisis incidents (Overby et al. 2004; Tan and Enderwick 2006). Regionalisation advanced by advisory groups (Stephens 2013; Koutsou and Sergaki 2019) offers an alternative operations perspective with SCM scholars noting proactive crisis management approaches through production relo­cation based on regional economic integration (Fan and Liu 2021). Such global-regional conundrum has implications for regional and public sector supply chains in terms of provisioning for critical supplies with essential services, consistent with resource- and performance-oriented theories of Table 3. Therefore, prospects exist for studies to reframe the debate and discourse on how regional environments explain the nature of strategies and complexities during crisis.

Organic capabilities framing of operational resources offers a radical perspective of SCM in times of crisis, altering the focus from exogenous to endogenous con­structs and emphasising organic wholes in contrast to dynamism in complex set­tings. With awareness that provisioning capabilities may be a matter or anchor of crisis (Kuokkanen et al. 2017; Laguna-Salvadó et al. 2019), an organic capabilities viewpoint underscores innate and evolving resources along with mind-sets attuned to the specific restorative needs of regional supply chains. This viewpoint contrast with closely linked theorisations of resource-based, resource dependency, resource orchestration, and slack resources that call attention to power, control, manage­ment roles, competitiveness, and slack. In keeping with good management theory, the organic capabilities framing also promotes good practice needed during crisis (Raspor 2008) by reflecting unique socio-economic contexts that underpin collabora­tion and compliance for enhanced traceability with transparency.

5.1.3 Operational mindfulness for learning

Conundrums also exist for strategic decisiveness that favours progressive (aggres­sive) (Dey et al. 2020) or conservative (Koniagina et al. 2019) policies, against a backdrop of confusions over thresholds for safety, significantly accounting for vari­ances in policies (Benson 2011). Both policies reflect how, even though crisis has a negative connotation, as earlier noted, the situations posed by crises trigger unique behaviours and contexts for strategists as opportunists seeking to harness demand prospects, as protectionists seeking to safeguard provisioning services, and as deter­minists seeking to model future networks. Although behaviour-oriented theories such as agency theory, communication theory and attribution theory offer perspectives for studying SCM relationships and links, current discourse is limited in coverage of framings that explain how supply chains not only learn from mistakes (Svensson 2010) but also pre-position SCM capabilities for responding to future disasters and emergencies (Ergun et al. 2010).

Operational mindfulness framing of supply chains involves unravelling processes and perspectives on how managers learn, make sense, scrutinise, and pay close attention to incidents and situations associated with supply chains. In accordance with context-oriented theories, the mindfulness focus is on SCM realities, preferences, contexts, disparities, conditions, and pressures for learning from the sophis­ticated interdependencies of network configurations. The perspective here suggests that more mindfulness will have greater preparedness and responsiveness, and that ceteris paribus the resulting SCM strategy will lead to enhanced restorative capabili­ties for safety with security protocols. Insights from this review suggest mindfulness in relation to path-creation (Kuokkanen et al. 2017) and the role of models like HROs (Sawyerr and Harrison 2019). Yet, the peripheries and potentials for conceptualisa­tions and contributions to SCM scholarship appear promising with opportunities to use mindfulness as a lens in studying proactivity, predictability, and performance in supply chains.

5.2 Managerial implications

The review has some managerial implications and relevance for SCM practice. For a start, the review has specific implications for SCM strategy in terms of defining objectives for SCM in times of crisis. Unlike routine operations and flows in con­ventional supply chains that warrant competitive priorities, SCM in times of crisis demands different priorities primarily for ensuring the efficacy of response and relief efforts. Table 1 summarises some core abilities of supply chains in support of such efficacy and the review finds a set of dimensions for restorative priorities, shown by Fig. 6, where the focus is on fulfilment, deployment, protection, and accountability via crisis management systems, programs and practices. Focus on practices like just-in-time inventory management support routine flows with objectives of low cost with timely delivery (Raj et al. 2022b) but in times of crisis there are additional require­ments that underpin rapid response decision policies where the objectives are the delivery of critical supplies with timely response.

Additionally, the review puts forward a broad view of SCM in times of crisis that reflects the ever-increasing mandates for supply chain reactions to organisational, institutional, regional, and supply chain crises, as identified by Mode 1, 2, and C of Fig. 1. Preparedness and decisiveness of SCM in times of crisis is a core implication of this review, and the review identifies a range of complexities related to uncertain­ties that perturb decisions by supply chain managers. Uncertainty is characteristic of crisis times (Harland 2021) and insights from this review shed light on the complexi­ties of supply chains that account for uncertainties associated with SCM in times of crisis. These insights are our attempt to rise to the challenge of supporting industry efforts for improved supply chain resilience and viability due to increasing occur­rences of crises (Remko 2020). Due to these uncertainties, this review recommends business-, provisioning-, and learning-based framings for crises that also imply shifts in mind-sets for supply chain managers. Such SCM mind-sets could inform the development of innovative and proactive crisis management systems, tools, network designs, and decision-making frameworks and models.

5.3 Future directions for management scholarship

From a methodological perspective, the literature on SCM in times of crisis shows preference for case studies, decision analysis, and conceptual models, with some treatment of econometric and secondary analysis, and limited coverage of survey-based studies, as summarised by Table 2. Further questionnaire-based surveys could enhance current discourse and the SCM field could benefit from widening the method­ological space to include experiments, action research, and problem structuring stud­ies, ethnography, and systems development. From a theoretical perspective, Table 3 shows depth and breadth in the range of theories proposed and applied in literature. However, critical reflection on this coverage offers unique BTC, organic capabilities and operational mindfulness framings for SCM, as presented in the previous subsec­tion, and warrants considerations for additional theoretical framings. Examples of such framings include leadership-oriented theories (e.g. contextual leadership and transformational leadership), population-oriented theories (e.g. population ecol­ogy and demographic transition), and technology-oriented theories (e.g. technology acceptance and technology threat avoidance). From a topical perspective, there are also opportunities for advancing SCM discourse and research, as shown by Fig. 8. The next subsections discuss these opportunities using related interests in current literature with potential paradoxes for SCM scholars, and we consider these oppor­tunities in light of BTC, organic capabilities, and operational mindfulness framings.

5.3.1 Supply chain upgrades for crisis-induced services

Current SCM literature emphasises the importance of upgrading global value chains (Gereffi and Lee 2012; Meyer-Larsen et al. 2012; Sass and Szalavetz 2013). Premised mainly on globalisation and the potentials for connecting businesses in a global net­work, SCM studies argue for upgrading products, processes, functions, and sectors in low-cost locations, promoting competitiveness of operations. Yet, regions require critical supplies and essential services with regional SCM central to the maintenance of the TWU super sectors and super facilities. Thus, minimisation of the fragility, vulnerability, and insecurity of critical infrastructure (Barnes and Oloruntoba 2005; Notteboom et al. 2021), represents an on-going regionalisation (or localisation) pri­ority for securing local physical and cyber systems. Consequently, the balancing of regionalisation and globalisation operations poses a Wollheim’s paradox for regional SCM particularly with sourcing and financing pressures to deliver crisis support and capabilities. Due to the increasing occurrences of crises (Pashapour et al. 2019), such balance requires assessments and investigations of the upgrading requirements. Con­sidering these points, this review recommends studies of supply chain upgrading with focus on regional SCM and crisis-induced services that sustain geographical and temporal needs in times of crisis.

5.3.2 Supply chain diagnosis for crisis-induced timeliness

With potentials for diversification, collectivism, holism, inclusivity, and resiliency as survivability in times of crisis, there is a plethora of ideas for framing SCM strategy in times of crisis, as shown by this review. Yet, this review suggests a paucity in fram­ings of supply chain diagnosis that embodies these potentials. Although, a related study offers supply chain partnership diagnosis (Li et al. 2012), the context revolves around business failure. Importantly, decisiveness in adopting progressive and con­servative policies, poses an Icarus paradox for organisations in supply chains con­cerning how firms apply operational mindfulness to harness business or public value associated with timely response with recovery from crises. With such implications, this review recommends lines of research to examine supply chain diagnosis for tele­ology and enhanced SCM timeframes spanning the pre-, intra- and post-crisis phases.


5.3.3 Supply chain solidarity for crisis-induced security

Empirical evidence in the literature suggests government and intergovernmental agency involvement, legislation, and governance play major roles in securing supply chains in times of crisis. Though prospects exist for these mechanisms to promote safety, the nature of solidarity as a socio-behavioural construct in securing supply chains remains unclear. Behavioural factors play important roles for SCM in times of crisis as suggested by scapegoating studies examining behaviours that isolate and blame individuals and groups for crises or crisis situations (Gao et al. 2012). Solidarity concerns mutual support and agreement from stakeholders, and involves munificent contributions, compliance, and commitment beyond the support offered by expert systems (Drakaki et al. 2018) and financial arrangements (Fiset and Dos­ taler 2013). Thus, establishing solidarity from SCM capabilities through stakeholder collaborations exists with the backdrop of a Mandeville’s paradox for SCM to imple­ment the potential aggressive actions and contributions of stakeholders required for security in times of crisis. Consequently, this review recommends studies of supply chain solidarity with attention

5.3.4 Supply chain mapping for crisis-induced traceability

Closely-related to the diagnosis challenge for timeliness in response with recovery, is the need for supply chain mapping to guide crisis management (Desoutter and Lavissière 2018). Optimisation (Memon et al. 2015; Aviso et al. 2018) and simulation models (Azghandi et al. 2018) are common within current literature with the inter­ests of crisis modellers ranging from building synthetic communities (Chaturvedi et al. 2014) to estimating production relocation (Fan and Liu 2021). Although, the spectrum of coverage remains vast, there are fundamental limits on mappings that support traceability with transparency within a SCM context. With trends towards digitalisation in supply chains, industry and society (Calabrese and Vervaeke 2017), the Solow paradox persists for SCM to use IT for optimising inventory, production and organisation processes, through mechanisms like BTS and BTO. Since current studies mainly offer food-related expositions on traceability with attention paid to labelling (Banterle and Stranieri 2008) and management costs (Dabbene and Gay 2011), the challenge is for complementary studies to shed light on traceability in crisis situations for other sectors with mappings that unravel potential sectoral and inter-sectoral supply chain fragility, vulnerability and insecurity. This review also recommends future studies of tag use and audit trails for supply chain crisis, control performance indicators, and traceability contracts for SCM in times of crisis.

5.3.5 Linking crisis systems investments with liabilities

Exiting studies cover a broad spectrum of investment-related SCM themes for detec­tion technology (Madichie and Yamoah 2017), mobilisation (Zhang et al. 2019), diversification (Koilo and Grytten 2019), community-based services (Siekmans et al. 2017), and so on. Here, research interests tend to consist of establishing toler­ance zones, guaranteeing access, and minimising investment costs for crisis man­agement systems. Concurrently, literature notes the need for crisis liability coverage and distribution among supply chain partners, although most of the studies focus on meat supply chains (Banterle and Stranieri 2008; Meuwissen et al. 2009). Since the Abilene paradox regarding actual and perceived needs bounds decisiveness in crisis investments and liability, this review recommends future studies of optimal systems selection problems linking supply chain investments and liabilities as well as path analyses of constructs for actual and perceived supply chain resources in rela­tion to decisiveness in times of crisis. Other lines of research may explore SCM for legacy and obsolete systems and the withdrawal or renewal of crisis-induced support systems.

5.3.6 Linking crisis network allotments with cross-functionalities

Due to the regular rebalancing of power, price, and partnership relationships, research notes that allotments (or allocations) assume a major role in strengthen­ing the hands and shaping the dynamics of stakeholders in crisis networks (Teresa et al. 2018). Areas of interests range from curbing inefficiencies and misallocation (Laguna-Salvadó et al. 2019), allocation strategies under human and supply con­straints (Aviso et al. 2018; Yu et al. 2020), and minimising allocation costs (Benaïcha and Hadj-Alouane 2013). Concomitantly, the literature sheds spotlights on cross-functional teams and processes (von der Gracht and Darkow 2013; Poberschnigg et al. 2020) that boost resilience and deter discontinuities in crisis networks. Moti­vated by the need to expound crisis-induced operations, this review proposes further research on optimal network selection problems linking supply chain allotments and cross-functionalities in addition to path analyses of interdependency and intermedi­ary variables with regard to supply chain effectiveness for capacity cooperation and real-time control. With varying effectiveness of allotments implied by the Scitovsky paradox, this review also recommends future studies of SCM allotment strategies in multi-tier, multi-agency, multi-period, multi-product, multi-sector, multi-region, multi-directional, and multi-agent network configurations.

5.3.7 Supply chain temporariness and crisis thresholds

Literature captures the essence of contexts, presence of complexities, and pertinence of strategies for SCM in times of crisis, as shown throughout this review. Nonethe­less, a fundamental challenge for SCM researchers is to model the finite and tran­sitionary nature of crisis management networks and systems, under uncertainty of sudden shocks and significant deviant events. In this context, the recommendation is for two future research areas. First, this review urges explorations of supply chain temporariness and the nature of policies (progressive and conservative), operations (globalisation and regionalisation), and management practices (BTS or BTO) that induce temporary supply chains. Current studies note the existence of temporary net­works for crisis response (Cozzolino et al. 2012), and the charge for scholarship is to establish common threads in events (Richey 2009), enabling supply chain managers and researchers mindfully develop plans and embody proactivity. Second, this review, motivated by a Sorites paradox on risk accumulation, proposes SCM research on cri­sis thresholds. Although not all risks and disruptions are crises, a supply chain crisis stems from severe and critical risks and disruptions that create SCM chaos, compli­cations, and complexities, worsened by situations involving compounding effects. This viewpoint elicits questions such as ‘what is the nature of thresholds for a supply chain crisis i.e. when does a disruption become a crisis?’ With the review capturing other signals of crisis, i.e. escalations of losses, urgent needs, fatalities, stockouts and distress, the loci of threshold definition extends to these cases, with nuanced reflec­tions on how compounding effects not only exacerbate crisis situations but also act as thresholds for a crisis.

6 Conclusions

According to a Nigerian saying, ‘in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build dams’. This quote accentuates the significance of networks and systems that connect stakeholders and manage reactions to crises, proactively and positively – not negative constructs that impede the flow of innovative ideas and resources. This article reviews literature on SCM in times of crisis, and posits on three framings for future studies. First, due to a SCM conundrum for prioritising build-to-stock or build-to-order management practices, the findings imply build-to-cycle for business framings that harness network configuration and business cycle intelligence for mini­mal crisis-induced costs. Second, motivated by differing globalisation and region­alisation perspectives on operations, this research posits on organic capabilities for provisioning framings that stress organic wholes in contrast to dynamism in complex settings. Third, in view of decisiveness with preferences for progressive (aggressive) or conservative policies, this review suggests operational mindfulness for learning framings to improve the analysis of proactivity, predictability, and performance by supply chains.

The review has two main limitations. First, the review confines its focus to identi­fying the operational strategies and complexities of SCM in times of crisis with addi­tional insights on the contexts and restorative priorities for supply chain managers. Second, the approach for the review is restricted to a systematic methodology that applies thematic analysis with limited insights on the range of research constructs, dependencies, and links between variables within studies. Meta-syntheses and evalu­ations of the decision and systems model-based approaches (the most applied meth­odology within studies) could offer additional insights and knowledge for theory development. The search process of the review also limits review sources to journal articles with search results based on combining “supply chain”, “crisis” and “crises” as keywords. In this context, dedicated reviews of different kinds of crises in SCM contexts could provide insights that advance practice for domain-specific SCM in times of crisis.

In summary, this review advances SCM mind-sets in times of crisis for operational mindfulness that bridges gaps in operational complexities, organic capabilities that avoid burning bridges by building around operations strategies, and build-to-cycle practices that act as a bridge over troubled waters for SCM espousing restorative priorities.

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