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Navigator for German-Chinese Logistics Networks

Since China opened up to foreign investment in the late 1970s, many firms decided to relocate their supply chains to China. Many of such firms had to retreat only a few years later. Failures to thrive in doing business with China have happened to some of the biggest firms in the world such as Home Depot, eBay, Google.  The Kühne Foundation has thus decided to finance a research project that aims at supporting managers of supply networks between Germany and China to successfully plan and prepare their businesses. The project, titled “Navigator for German-Chinese Logistics Networks” (dt.  „Navigator für deutsch-chinesische Logistiknetze“) focuses on the features and distinctions of Germany and China as well as most important supply chain concepts between those countries. It thereby seeks to improve fundamental strategic planning processes in logistics networks and helps to adapt logistics strategies, systems and end-to-end networks, by systematizing current planning procedures and identifying best practices. Therefore, strategies such as shortening processes, stock planning and connectivity of information systems have to be adapted to the German-Chinese logistics environment. More information about the project as well as information material, a logistics data library can be found here.

The results of our research are distributed through science- and practice oriented publications (can be found here) as well as presentations at science conferences and in or for companies.

The competence center is focused on the areas of Internationalisation, Supply Chain Risk Management, Supply Chain Volatility and german-chinese logistics networks.


The successful opening up of new markets, e.g. in Eastern Europe and South East Asia is heavily dependent on the capability of logistic systems and the ability to integrate those markets in the existing procurement systems. Because of this, the setup and configuration of logistics systems take up a key role in the internationalisation efforts of industry and commercial enterprises. The focus of our research lays upon the indentification of success strategies. This is closely related to the expansion of existing procedures to analyse and evaluate production site locations regarding logistical aspects. To select locations solely based on labour costs is suboptimal. Instead "Global Footprint"-decisions should be made on the basis of an integrated total cost approach (analogous to the method of Total Cost of Ownership), which includes all relevant direct and indirect logistics cost components.

Supply Chain Risk Management

In Supply Chains the omnipresent global interconnection is manifested. At the same time risks and threats in supply chains has changed and with it the requirements for saftey concepts, which can meet those challenges. The term "safety" refers to safety concerning threats that intentionally want to harm the supply chain, including organised crime, international terrorism and piracy. Safety in a context of process reliability refers to the consideration of internal and extarnal threaths (Supply Chain Risk Management) and the warranty of ecological sustainability (Business Continuity Management). Our research results are being distributed depending on the target audience through publications as well as science conferences and in or for companies.

Supply Chain Volatility

Coping with volatility is a major challenge of modern supply chains. Facing tremendous turbulences on the supply and demand side, SC managers acknowledge the increasing importance of volatility and are forced to adjust and redesign their SC and operational structures on a regular basis. Christopher and Holweg (2011) further predict an upcoming era of volatility that hurts the performance of SC leading to stock-outs, inefficient inventory levels and bad capacity utilization. Consequently, volatility ranks among the most important topics for research and practice alike.

Our research aims at providing a profound understanding of the mechanisms driving volatility in supply chains. We thereby seek to develop a conceptualization of the sources, dimensions and moderators of supply chain volatility. On this basis our project develops a measurement instrument that strives to assess the volatility of a supply chain to provide a basis for further improvements.



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