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UTLIZING EMERGING TRENDS IN OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT FOR NEW

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

Liqiong Deng, Richards College of Business, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118,
(678) 839-5532, jdeng@westga.edu,
Douglas Turner, Richards College of Business, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118,
(678) 839-4847, dturner@westga.edu

ABSTRACT

Operations Management (OM) as an independent discipline has grown to include areas such as
Supply Chain Management and Customer Relationship Management. When the teaching of OM
is viewed in conjunction with other business disciplines such as Accounting and Management
Information Systems we find curriculum models that widely vary in their design. This paper
attempts to define and quantify the OM course models found in programs within the authors’
home state, and around the United States. Specifically of interest is the implementation of an
OM curriculum within a Department of Management where there is an existing Management
Information System (MIS) program.

INTRODUCTION

In today’s business world, the field of OM has been strongly influenced by a number of major
trends, such as global competition, rapid evolution of information technology, fast information
flows, and increased demand for rapid response and product variety. As a result, OM education
is changing from being mathematical modeling-based, manufacturing-focused to become more
closely linked with other business disciplines, such as MIS, marketing, management, and
strategy [1]. This change however poses a challenge of designing new cross-disciplinary OM
curriculum. In response to the emergence of a new breed of OM discipline, this research
investigates the emerging trends in OM curriculum based on a survey of the existing curriculum
offered by the OM undergraduate degree programs of AACSB (acronym for “The Association to
Advance Collegiate Schools of Business”) accredited business schools in USA.

Operations management is a mission-critical managerial function in all kinds of organizations –


from private manufacturing sectors to public service sectors, where OM impacts each step in the
process of providing a product or service. The importance of operations management has
increased dramatically in recent years due to the intensified global competition, shorter
product/service lifecycles, increasingly demanding consumers, and significant advancement of
information and process technology. These trends have driven business organizations to focus on
their operations function to improve efficiency and productivity while providing a wider variety
of high-quality products and services. As a result, OM is situated at the core of business and its
interaction with other business functions has become increasingly important. The OM discipline
is historically dominated by design, planning and control issues. While this focus is still
important to the field today, there is also a need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach and
incorporate perspectives of other business functions [1].
Relying on the use of advanced information technologies, the cross-disciplinary interaction has
made OM more closely linked with MIS [2]. MIS integrates the traditional OM areas (e.g.,
demand forecasting, operation planning and control, and total quality management) with
enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship
management (CRM), and other business systems. The key to success of today’s organizations
lies in the synergy between operations function and technology [2]. OM graduates are therefore
expected to be equipped with strategic thinking and quantitative analysis skills, information
systems knowledge, and the ability to design and execute business operations using information
technology. The practice of combining education in MIS and OM is adopted by a number of
business schools, including Texas A&M University, University of South Carolina, and so on.
However, there is a lack of standard model curriculum for the emerging new breed of OM
discipline. Due to their cross-disciplinary nature and different foci, most OM undergraduate
degree programs vary greatly in their curriculum.

The authors’ school is a moderate sized AACSB-accredited business college. In this business
college there are about 50 faculty members, where about 350 students graduate annually
(approximately one third of those graduate from curriculums within the Department of
Management). Thus, the authors are interested in finding out how other AACSB-accredited
business schools address the need for cross-disciplinary OM coursework. More specifically, the
authors are concerned with 1) the undergraduate OM courses currently being taught and 2) the
integration of MIS and OM curriculum in other US AACSB-accredited schools.

RESEARCH METHOD

The sample utilized for this research represented undergraduate OM degree programs identified
in AACSB accredited business schools in US. Twenty-five programs (See Appendix) were
examined to establish a base line for Operations Management programs, with three specific in
state programs used for comparison to determine the potential OM course model. The authors
searched for and downloaded names and descriptions of the OM courses currently taught from
the websites of programs selected for this research.

The qualitative data from across the United States, which consist of course information
downloaded from the program websites, were subjectively examined by the authors. Similar
courses were then grouped together based on their names and contents so that the statistics of
frequency counts and percentages could be calculated. The OM programs identified within the
state were examined by both course name and by published course content.

RESULTS

Operations Management Curriculums Across the United States

The selected OM programs vary in the courses they offer. A total of twenty one different courses
are identified (See Table 1). The majority (80%) of the selected programs offer supply chain
management course. More than half of them teach quality control and management (68%) and
operations management (64%) courses. Over one third offer courses in operations planning and
control, project management, service operations management, operations strategy, and
management information systems. More than one fifth of the selected programs teach decision
support systems, management of technology, business process management, inventory
management, data analysis and modeling, logistics and distribution management courses. Fewer
than five programs offer courses in global operations management, enterprise operation systems,
manufacturing resource planning, computer integrated manufacturing, and information
management.

According to the above statistics, the following eight courses are identified as popular among the
selected programs: supply chain management, quality control and management, operations
management, operations planning and control, project management, service operations
management, operations strategy, and management information systems. The results indicate that
while the traditional production and operations management topics (e.g., quality control and
management, operations management, operations planning and control, and project management)
still dominate OM curriculum, a number of new subject areas (e.g., supply chain management,
service operations management, operations strategy, and management information systems)
emerge to be the foci of current OM education.

First, supply chain management is shown to be the most popular OM course of the selected
programs. Assuming the effective management of the entire process from suppliers to customers
as a source of competitive advantage, supply chain operation emerges as a cross-functional,
inter-organizational discipline, integrating the areas of operations, logistics, strategy, and MIS
[3]. While the traditional view of operations management focuses on the internal processes of an
organization, supply chain management supports inter-organizational processes. It extends the
focus of traditional operations management to consider both the internal value-adding processes
and the interfaces between intra- and inter-organizational processes.

Second, service operations management has become an important topic in OM education.


Traditionally, OM discipline focused on addressing the need of the manufacturing sector due to
its roots in production management. During the recent ten years, the service industry has become
the most important driving force for the U.S. economy [4]. This trend has created a substantial
demand for service operations management, which addresses the enhancement of service quality.
Different from traditional manufacturing-focused operations, service-operations are more
process-oriented and customer-focused [5]. Service operations management adapts the principles
of operations management to the service environment, focusing on the managerial issues and
problems unique to designing, producing, and delivering services. Since the service sector will
continue to lead the U.S. economic growth, the OM teaching focus is expected to be more
service-oriented in the future.
TABLE 1. A Summary of Courses Offered by the Selected U.S. OM Programs

Number of Percentage of
Programs Programs
Courses Offered
offering the offering the
course course

Supply Chain Management 20 80%

Quality Control and Management 17 68%

Operations Management 16 64%

Operations Planning and Control 12 48%

Project Management 10 40%

Service Operations Management 9 36%

Operations Strategy 9 36%

Management Information Systems 9 36%

Decision Making and Decision Support Systems 7 28%

Management of Technology 6 24%

Business Process Management 6 24%

Materials and Inventory Management 5 20%

Data Analysis and Modeling 5 20%

Logistics and Distribution Management 5 20%

Product Development 4 16%

IS Design, Prototyping, and evaluation 4 16%

Global Operations Management 4 16%

Enterprise Operation Systems 4 16%

Manufacturing Resource Planning 3 12%

Computer Integrated Manufacturing 3 12%

Information Management 2 8%
Third, recognizing the strategic importance of operations function, many of the selected OM
programs include operations strategy as a teaching focus of OM practice. This focus highlights a
broader area of “operations” strategy rather than an earlier concentration on “manufacturing”
strategy. Operations strategy is concerned with the effective strategic management of operating
and technological resources, aligning them to support the execution of overall business strategy
of the organization [6]. Operations strategy is interdisciplinary in scope, involving
the management of interfaces between operations and other business functions. It thus draws on
the concepts from multiple supporting disciplines, such as strategic management, operations
management, marketing, accounting, and human resources.

Finally, due to the enabling role of information technology in improving operations productivity,
MIS has become one of the popular courses in OM programs. In recent years, rapid
technological advancement has caused a fundamental transformation in intra- and inter-
organizational business operations [2], such as the globalization of business operations, e-
business, and extended supply chain. The increasing reliance of business operation on
information technology and the ever-changing nature of technology have posed a critical
challenge to create and apply technology to business practice [7]. The MIS domain addresses the
challenge by providing understanding of the technological drivers of organizational performance,
more specifically, focusing on planning, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating
technology capabilities to achieve operational effectiveness.

Operation Management Curriculums Across the State

Three other state (AACSB) institutions were identified as offering OM-type curriculums. School
“A” is a top tier research institution (with approximate 18,000 students), school “B” is a peer
institution (with approximate 15,000 students), and school “C” (with approximate 4,000
students) is smallest of the state OM program schools. The Authors’ school has an enrollment of
approximately 11,000 students. Schools “A” and “B” have their OM programs housed within
their respective Departments of Management, while the smallest of the three schools houses OM
under the general division of Business Administration. As a comparison the authors’ University
accommodates approximately 10,500 students.

Between the three existing schools they offer a total of nine different courses. School “A” has a
mix of eight courses for their OM program; School “B” a mix of seven for another, and the
smallest of the three schools with five courses offered. See Table 2 below for comparisons.

Based on the matrix it can be concluded that Management of Technology is not supported at the
lower tier schools. While this analysis cannot determine why any specific course is not offered
by any particular institution, we can state that MIS is found as a separate department at Schools
“A” and “B”, and school “C” does not have an equivalent MIS function. It is noteworthy to
highlight the fact that school “A” does not have a specific course defined as Computer Integrated
Manufacturing. This may well be the result of the large degree of computer integration found in
most all modern manufacturing and service operations.

While School “C” does not offer the Operations Strategy course it seems to be relevant to all
business curriculums as it is a required upper level course for all AACSB business colleges. The
remaining courses of Service Operations Management and Product Development can be relevant
based on the specific needs of the students, and could be incorporated into a single course.

TABLE 2. Courses Offered by the OM Programs Across the State

Ref. Course Titles School School School


ID. “A” “B” “C”
A Operations Management Yes Yes Yes
B Operations Planning and Control Yes Yes Yes
C Operations Strategy Yes Yes No
D Quality Control and Assurance Yes Yes Yes
E Logistics / Supply Chain Management Yes Yes Yes
F Management of Technology Yes No No
G Computer Integrated Manufacturing No Yes No
H Service Operations Management Yes Yes No
I Product Development Yes No No

Applied Operation Management Model

The OM curriculum model selected was developed (see Table 3) to encompass the key courses
offered by the existing three state institutions (see Table 2 above).

TABLE 3. The Selected OM Curriculum Model

Ref. ID. Course Titles


A Operations Management
B Operations Planning and Control
C Operations Strategy
D Quality Control and Assurance
E Logistics / Supply Chain Management
F Management of Technology
G&H Integrated Resource Management

The MIS and OM Relationship

Multiple examples of viable OM programs are shown to exist across the United States. During
the initial development of this curriculum over 15 schools were found to offer a joint MIS and
OM program, frequently offered from a blended Operation Management Information Systems
(OMIS) department.

CONCLUSIONS

This research reveals several emerging trends in the OM curriculum, summarized as follows; 1)
As business operations function is extending across functional and organizational boundaries,
supply chain management has become a mainstream course for OM education. 2) Since service
industry is now a major source of economic growth, the OM teaching focus is moving away
from the traditional production/manufacturing management to the service environment. 3) In
recognition of the increasing strategic importance of operations function for the overall business
performance, many OM programs incorporate operations strategy as a required course. 4) Due to
the heavy reliance of operations function on modern information and communication
technologies, a MIS course is required by a number of OM programs to teach the knowledge and
skills of designing and implementing technologies.

APPENDIX

Referenced Schools

Auburn University
http://www.business.auburn.edu/degreePrograms/departments/management/undergrad.cfm

Boise State University


http://noisweb.boisestate.edu/?module=majors&section=list&action=opermgt

California State University, Northridge


http://www.csun.edu/catalog/SOM.pdf

California State University, Sacramento


http://www.cba.csus.edu/ubac/default.asp?pageID=OperationsManagement&txt=false

California State University, Stanislaus


http://www.csustan.edu/Catalog/Departments-Programs/Business-Administration/Departments-
Programs/Operations-Management/index-OM.html

East Carolina University


http://www.ecu.edu/cs-bus/dsci/concentrations.cfm#CP_JUMP_16998

Georgetown University
http://student.msb.edu/prog/opim/what.htm

Georgia Southern University


http://coba.georgiasouthern.edu/services/advise/pdf/mgntom.pdf

Georgia Tech
http://mgt.gatech.edu/programs/under/cert_opt_mgt.html

New York University, Stern


http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/ioms/academic.cfm?doc_id=2552

Texas A & M University


http://mays.tamu.edu/depts/info/Info_BBA.html

University of Arizona
http://ugrad.eller.arizona.edu/academic/majors/operationsmanagement/

University of Cincinnati
http://www.business.uc.edu/bba/focus/om/curriculum

University of Dayton
http://www.sba.udayton.edu/mod/om/

University of Delaware
http://www.lerner.udel.eduhttp://www.buec.udel.edu/OM/course%20descriptions.htm

University of Idaho
http://www.cbehome.uidaho.edu/default.aspx?pid=28341

University of Michigan
http://www.bus.umich.edu/CourseManagement/ViewCourseDescriptions.asp?Term=1&Division
=OMS&Program=0

University of North Carolina, Greensboro


http://www.uncg.edu/bae/isom/bscrsreq.html

University of North Carolina, Wilmington


http://www.csb.uncw.edu/departments/isom/courses.stm

University of Pennsylvania
http://undergrad.wharton.upenn.edu/concentrations/opim.cfm

University of Scranton
http://matrix.scranton.edu/academics/ac_pgm_operations_management.shtml

University of Texas Austin


http://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/udean/advising/degree_info/supplychain.asp

University of Washington
http://bschool.washington.edu/departments/mgtsci/op_man_index.shtml

University of Wisconsin Madison


http://www.bus.wisc.edu/oim/

Western Washington University


http://www.cbe.wwu.edu/dsci/curriculumOM.asp
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