Supply network structure and systemic risk

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Demand uncertainty can present a serious challenge for any business, especially when it comes to managerial decisions on inventory. But when an economic downturn happens, the challenge becomes systemic. According to research by Nikolay Osadchiy, assistant professor of information systems & operations management, and coauthors Vishal Gaur (Cornell U) and Sridhar Seshadri (Indian School of Business), systemic risk is more greatly felt depending on where a company sits in the supply chain. The trio discovered that while an economic downturn presented a serious hurdle for retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers alike, manufacturers were more prone to systemic risk given their placement upstream in the supply chain. Manufacturers had “a more dispersed customer base,” which the authors noted was more closely “associated with higher systematic risk.” Manufacturers also experienced greater systemic risk due to the effect of aggregation of orders over time. They wrote, “A market shock in one period may affect sales over several periods due to lead times and time lags in managerial decision making.”