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EJTD 38,1/2

Received 9 September 2013 Revised 29 September 2013 Accepted 4 October 2013

Leveraging human resource development expertise to improve supply chain managers skills and competencies
Alexander E. Ellinger
Department of Marketing and International Business, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, and

Andrea D. Ellinger
Department of Human Resource Development and Technology, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas, USA
Purpose There is an ongoing shortage of talented supply chain managers with the necessary skills and business-related competencies to manage increasingly complex and strategically important supply chain processes. The purpose of this paper is to propose that organizations can create and maintain competitive advantage by leveraging the expertise of human resource development (HRD) professionals to provide a range of developmental and change-oriented interventions related to critical supply chain manager skill sets that are currently in short supply. Design/methodology/approach This is a conceptual paper. Findings This is a conceptual paper. Practical implications Supply chain management (SCM) decisions signicantly inuence nancial performance since rms expend up to 75 percent of their revenue on supply chain activities. HRD professionals intervention capabilities in training and development, organizational development and change management uniquely equip them to disseminate a deeper and broader understanding of the SCM concept within organizations, to help prioritize the development of supply chain managers and to address the complex interpersonal issues associated with helping people to work together collaboratively to foster operational innovation and make increasingly complex supply chain processes function effectively. Originality/value The requisite skill sets for effective supply chain managers are described, linkages between HRD and SCM are highlighted, and areas of HRD professionals expertise that can be exploited to better develop supply chain managers skill sets and competencies are considered. Keywords Change management, Organization development, Talent development, Supply chain manager, Executive coaching, Managerial coaching, Strategic human resource development, Supply chain management talent, Supply chain manager skills, Training and development Paper type Conceptual paper

European Journal of Training and Development Vol. 38 No. 1/2, 2014 pp. 118-135 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2046-9012 DOI 10.1108/EJTD-09-2013-0093

Introduction Supply chain management (SCM) is the proactive management of supply chain activities and processes to maximize customer value and achieve sustainable competitive advantage through the cumulative effort of multiple entities. The SCM industry is growing by more than 9 percent per annum and is poised for sustained growth ( Joyner, 2012). Globalization, market turbulence and the increasing role of SCM

in rms strategic planning are intensifying the need for talented supply chain professionals who can view the supply chain holistically in terms of linked processes, manage critical relationships, understand the business model, engage in statistical analysis and fact-based decision making, practice advanced cost management and understand electronic business systems (Trent, 2004, p. 57). Yet, although compensation for supply chain professionals is steadily rising (Bradley, 2013), the SCM industry is experiencing a serious talent shortage that is predicted to get worse (Cottrill, 2010). The shortage of SCM managers with the requisite broad set of skills to satisfy ongoing demand can be largely attributed to many rms placing more emphasis on cost reduction and improving relationships with customers and suppliers than on developing people to achieve SCM objectives (McCarter et al., 2005; Shub and Stonebraker, 2009; Sweeney, 2013a). Relative lack of focus on the people dimension of SCM may also be impeding breakthrough operational innovation like Walmarts cross-docking, Dells mass customization and Apples digital online product delivery that Hammer (2004, p. 84) contends can destroy competitors and shake up industries. According to Hammer (2004, p. 86), the invention and deployment of new ways of doing work often begins as grassroots movements that are driven by a few people who are passionate about change. However, such operational innovation is relatively rare in organizations because senior managers tend not to understand, support and encourage it (Hammer, 2004). Thus, Senge argues that supply chains need employees who are innovative who have the skill and the vision to redesign products, processes, and business models and who understand the business context (Prokesch, 2010, p. 70). The SCM talent shortfall is further exacerbated by the lack of resources and strategic priority devoted to SCM in functionally oriented organizations where senior level managers tend to have a limited understanding of SCM (Hammer, 2004; Slone et al., 2007) and of the critical inuence that supply chain decisions have on rm nancial performance (Timme and Williams-Timme, 2000). However, recent prescriptions for achieving SCM excellence contend that acquiring and developing the right SCM talent is the rst component of supply chain transformational strategy implementation (Dittmann, 2012; Slone et al., 2010). To address the talent shortfall, SCM thought leaders suggest that rms must become more proactive in the development of SCM personnel with the necessary skills and business-related competencies to manage increasingly complex and strategically important supply chain processes (Christopher, 2012; Cottrill, 2010; Dischinger et al., 2006; Dittmann, 2012; Fawcett et al., 2010; Slone et al., 2010; Sweeney, 2013a). Accordingly, considering developmental approaches for addressing and mitigating the current SCM talent shortfall appears to be warranted. This conceptual paper proposes that organizations can create and maintain competitive advantage by leveraging the expertise of human resource development (HRD) professionals to provide a range of developmental and change-oriented interventions related to critical supply chain manager skill sets that are in short supply. HRD professionals intervention capabilities in training and development, organizational development and change management uniquely equip them to disseminate a deeper and broader understanding of the SCM concept within organizations, to help prioritize the development of supply chain managers, and to

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address the complex interpersonal issues associated with helping people to work more collaboratively to make increasingly complex supply chains function more effectively. The requisite skill sets for effective supply chain managers are described, linkages between HRD and SCM are highlighted, and areas of HRD professionals expertise that can be exploited to better develop supply chain managers skill sets and competencies are considered. Supply chain management Originally, introduced by management consultants in the early 1980s, SCM is the degree to which a rm strategically collaborates with its supply chain partners and collaboratively manages intra- and inter-organization processes in order to achieve effective and efcient ows of products and services, information, money and decisions to provide maximum value to the customer (Flynn et al., 2010, p. 58). SCM involves doing more with less by integrating key business processes to maintain required levels of service while reducing system-wide costs and sustaining cash ow. Collaborative integration between supply chain participants reduces the cost of doing business by better aligning incentives and reward systems to minimize inefcient resource utilization and non-value adding activities (Narayanan and Raman, 2004). Up to 75 percent of rm revenue is expended on supply chain activities (i.e. purchasing, manufacturing, moving, storing, selling and servicing products) (Trent, 2004). Therefore, SCM decisions signicantly inuence each of the key drivers of rm nancial performance (i.e. revenue growth, operating cost reductions, and working capital efciency) (Camerinelli, 2009; Timme and Williams-Timme, 2000). SCM is based on integration and teamwork that involves thinking beyond established boundaries, strengthening the linkages between functions, and nding ways for them to pull together (Sweeney, 2013a, p. 3). Integration behaviors include information exchange, proactive communication, sharing resources and risks, joint development of supply chain processes, and coordinated planning and decision-making within and among supply chain participants. Developing co-operative relationships between supply chain participants is a pre-requisite for creating customer value because unity of effort (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967) between interdependent entities is required to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace (Alderson and Martin, 1965; Drucker, 1973; Porter, 1985). Supply chain integration creates customer value because knowledge sharing connects sourcing and manufacturing operations with market requirements to better match supply and demand (Esper et al., 2010). There are, however, relatively few rms with effectively integrated supply chains largely due to the prevalence of functionally oriented organizational structures that prioritize the goals and objectives of individual areas instead of the collaborative teamwork and integration required for successful cross-functional service processes (Liedtka, 1996; Trent, 2004). Cross-functional collaboration is unstructured, informal communication that is dependent upon peoples ability to trust each other, build meaningful relationships, and appreciate one anothers expertise that enables functional areas to converse, learn and work across the silos that have characterized organizational structures (Liedtka, 1996, p. 25). However, in many rms, overlapping functional responsibilities coupled with conicting departmental priorities and mindsets continue to make service failure a


distinct possibility whenever customer order fulllment entails crossing functional boundaries (Kingman-Brundage et al., 1995; Shapiro et al., 2004). Research further suggests that internal integration enables external integration because rms that effectively communicate, share information, and collaborate across functional areas in their own organizations tend to be procient at doing the same with external supply chain participants (Flynn et al., 2010; Zhao et al., 2011). A major reason for the lack of integration and collaborative teamwork in many rms is lack of emphasis on developing supply chain talent with the requisite range of skills for engaging in such behavior. Critical skills for supply chain managers Supply chain managers need an equal balance of hard (analytical and technical) and soft (human and behavioral) business-related skills to achieve supply chain integration in the current dynamic and unpredictable business environment (Christopher, 2012; Cottrill, 2010; Sweeney, 2013a). As the quarterbacks responsible for implementing intra- and inter-organizational supply chain initiatives (Ellinger et al., 2002), complexity management, inuencing skills and team leadership are each vital ingredients within a supply chain managers playbook. However, Fawcett et al. (2010) contend that most supply chain managers possess sound analytical skills but are not nearly as well versed in the skills needed for team building and change management. Table I presents a summary of the requisite skills for effective supply chain managers proposed in recent studies. As can be seen, there is considerable overlap between the skill sets in each of the studies summarized. Cottrill (2010) offers the
Study Cottrill (2010) Skills Higher order problem solving Adeptness at managing ambiguity Ability to communicate horizontally and vertically within and between organizations Manage teams located in numerous countries Global orientation Cross functional, cross company understanding Leadership skills Technical and analytics savvy Superior business skills Adept with the classic tools and techniques for managing ongoing operations Understand complex systems theory and process management in horizontal organizational structures Effective team leadership Change management and inuencing skills Cross-functionalist Choreographer Coach Champion

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Slone et al. (2010)

Christopher (2012)

Fawcett et al. (2010)

Table I. Requisite skill sets for effective supply chain managers

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following reasoning for the criticality of each the requisite skills for supply chain managers proposed in his white paper: . Higher order problem solving. SCM is not just a numbers game analytical and technical skills are necessary but creative thinking and the ability to see the big picture is equally important. . Managing ambiguity. SCM professionals should be able to navigate in a fog general business managers with high order diplomacy and commercial awareness who can learn from past experiences and apply that learning in new imprecise situations are needed. . Multi-level communicator. Ability to converse horizontally and vertically within organizations and across communities of trading partners and be able to explain the SCM concept in simple terms to diverse organizational constituents. . World citizen. Manage and relate to teams located in multiple countries can no longer assume all reports will be from the same nation. Consistent with Cottrills reasoning, Slone et al. (2010) and Christopher (2012) provide similar rationales for the skill sets proposed in their studies. Drawing upon Leonard-Bartons (1995) notion of T-shaped skills proles, Christopher (2012) suggests that such skill sets can be achieved by developing supply chain managers that have in-depth expertise in one discipline combined with enough breadth to see connections with others. In addition, Fawcett et al. (2010, p. 22) argue that the indispensible supply chain leader is a cross-functionalist who understands the key supply chain functions and keeps them rolling in synch, a choreographer who sees the big picture while understanding where individual pieces t the pattern, a coach who teaches, mentors and motivates others to contribute as part of a team, and a champion who establishes credibility throughout all levels of the organization, thereby enabling the individual to be an effective catalyst for supply chain change. The next sections address linkages between HRD and SCM and propose ways that HRD professionals can contribute towards the development of supply chain managers with the requisite skill sets. Linkages between HRD and SCM The ability to leverage the skills and talents of human resources for competitive advantage is an important theme in the strategic human resource development literature (Garavan, 1991, 2007; McCracken and Wallace, 2000). Human resource development (HRD) has been variously dened since the term was introduced in the 1970s with Weinbergers (1998) study identifying more than 15 denitions. Given the complexities of the contexts and settings where HRD is practiced, there is no universally accepted denition of HRD. However, most scholars consider HRD to be a eld of study and practice that seeks to enhance learning and facilitate change at the individual, group/team, organization, and societal levels to improve performance, effectiveness, and build capacity and expertise at each level (McLean and McLean, 2001). Swanson and Holton (2009, p. 365) contend that HRD is of strategic value to organizations when it is performance-based, demonstrates its strategic capability, and is responsive to the emergent nature of strategy. The notion of strategically exploiting human resources for SCM advantage is not new. Since human interactions largely inuence SCM practice, human resource

development strategy signicantly affects supply chain performance (Maku et al., 2005; McAfee et al., 2002; Sweeney, 2013a). Thus, the SCM literature classies HRD as one of the four pillars of supply chain excellence (Trent, 2004). However, although SCM is predicated on the knowledge, skills and competences of supply chain professionals (Sweeney, 2013a, p. 34), organizations have largely neglected the human and behavioral components of SCM (Ellinger et al., 2002; McCarter et al., 2005; Shub and Stonebraker, 2009; Sweeney, 2013a; Tokar, 2010). Although the potential contribution of HR systems and employee development approaches to supply chain performance is under-explored in the literature (Gowen and Tallon, 2003; Smith-Doerein et al., 2011; Zaklad et al., 2004), research suggests that HRD interventions in SCM contexts are associated with benecial outcomes. For example, the behavioral consequences of traditional transaction-based approaches to SCM personnel are contrasted with the potential benets of implementing relationship-based human resource strategies in SCM contexts (McAfee et al., 2002; Shub and Stonebraker, 2009). Similarly, a key theme in Gartner Groups most recent Supply Chain Top 25 annual industry report is that some of the most successful SCM rms are focused on inspiring the hearts and minds of supply chain talent in new ways by setting aspirational goals and connecting the dots between the work people do every day in the supply chain and its contribution to the societies in which they live building engaged supply chain talent can lead to business growth (Hofman et al., 2013, p. 1). From a societal perspective, Senge suggests that if organizations are to become more focused on sustainability and environmental matters, understanding the complexities of the larger system in which the organization is situated and learning to develop working relationships with others are challenges that must be overcome because in most supply chains [. . .] theres very little trust and very little ability to innovate together (Prokesch, 2010, p. 71). Adopting a somewhat different perspective, Becker et al. (2010, p. 146) argue that operational concepts within SCM such as zero inventory, exibility through postponement, outsourcing, free riding, supply chain surplus, the bullwhip effect, and changing the givens have implications for integrating supply chains and human resources. The authors therefore suggest that strategic HRD, social responsibility and SCM should be integrated to allow organizations to respond quickly to changing conditions while attending to people factors in supply chains (Becker et al., 2010, p. 144). In slight contrast to Becker et al.s (2010) application of SCM concepts to the eld of HRD, we consider how HRD expertise can be applied in the SCM context. HRD expertise and the development of supply chain manager skill sets In many organizations, HRD professionals are responsible for designing and implementing training and employee development initiatives that improve employee and organizational performance and facilitate change at individual, group and organizational levels (Swanson and Holton, 2009). HRD professionals intervention expertise would appear to uniquely qualify them to address the complex interpersonal issues associated with helping people to work collaboratively to make supply chain processes function effectively. However, a recent series of industry reports that examine SCM talent development commissioned by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) suggest that improvements can be made in terms of how training funds are allocated. Further the reports suggest

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that current training and development programs for SCM personnel need to be more thorough and strengthened. Thus, leveraging the training and development expertise of HRD professionals to cultivate the skill sets for SCM managers presented in Table I may be an appropriate approach for addressing these challenges. Citing the need to develop and enhance human capital, the CSCMP publication examines the recruitment and acquisition of supply chain talent, training and education, and some forward thinking issues like talent progression and succession planning (Gibson et al., 2013). With regard to training and development, the ndings presented in SCM Talent Development: The Development Process show that funding for the development and education of SCM personnel is often treated as discretionary spending as opposed to an ongoing budgeted item. The study also reports that while leading organizations understand the need for sustained investment in training to improve SCM employees capabilities, not all organizations invest in training. The research also indicates that there is considerable variability in the amount of training provided based on management level. Training investment is highest for executives. Yet, calls for the growth and development of supply chain personnel contend that the skill sets of supply chain managers at all levels must be enhanced (Cottrill, 2010; Dischinger et al., 2006). The CSCMP research also reports that training methods employed are predominantly hands-on (i.e. learning by doing), and suggests that, although considerable progress is being made, more comprehensive training programs for supply chain personnel are still needed (Gibson et al., 2013). The most widely addressed training topics reported in the study ndings include demand planning, inventory management, purchasing, and customer service. More general training topics addressed by respondent organizations include project management, process improvement, and leadership. However, the most commonly addressed training topics highlighted in the CSCMP study may not be entirely aligned with developing the requisite skill sets for effective supply chain managers depicted in Table I. Best practice rms treat personnel development as a strategic need (Gowen and Tallon, 2003). Thus, Aguinis and Kraiger (2009, p. 466) suggest organizations that are able to realize the benets of training [. . .] are able to move away from viewing the training function as an operational function or cost center to one that is value driven. Given the variability of rms investment in training reported in the CSCMP study, and the prevalence of informational and hands-on training for SCM personnel described in Gibson et al.s (2013) research, the development of supply chain managers may be contingent on partnering with HRD professionals to ensure that the training and development provided is more focused on growing the requisite skill sets shown in Table I. Extant research consistently demonstrates that training and development benets individuals, teams and organizations (Aguinis and Kraiger, 2009; Birdi et al., 2008). Aguinis and Kraigers (2009) review of the training and development literature further indicates that developmental interventions affect recipients declarative, procedural and strategic knowledge and that the most effective training programs include cognitive and interpersonal skills. The review also acknowledges that the benets associated with training extend beyond performance issues at the individual and team levels to the organization. Aguinis and Kraiger state that studies support the

performance benets of training to the organization that include improved organizational performance (e.g. protability, effectiveness, productivity, operating revenue per employee (Aguinis and Kraiger, 2009, p. 459) and also indirect benets associated with turnover, and organizations reputations. A number of approaches and strategies have been found to maximize the benets of training including: needs assessment and pretraining states, training design and delivery, training evaluation, and transfer of training (Aguinis and Kraiger, 2009). With expertise in these areas, HRD professionals may be able to improve existing training given some of the noted shortcomings associated with existing SCM training programs. Developmental interventions can be targeted toward individual supply chain managers to expand and develop the requisite skill sets and competencies. At the group and team levels, interventions designed to enhance supply chain managers inuencing skills to help build teamwork and resolve cross-functional conicts can be implemented. At the organization level, HRD interventions to enhance supply chain managers competencies as change agents would help to promote the cultural changes and understanding needed to successfully implement the myriad of operational process and technological initiatives characteristic of todays supply chains. Additionally, since systems theory and systems thinking are critical underpinnings of HRD practice, HRD professionals may also contribute by helping to disseminate a deeper and broader appreciation of the SCM concept within organizations to combat the fundamental lack of understanding that is all too frequent among non-supply chain (Trent, 2004) and upper level managers (Slone et al., 2010). Table II presents a summary of potential HRD approaches that can be exploited to grow the requisite skill sets of supply chain managers and more effectively disseminate the SCM concept throughout organizations. The next sections elaborate upon the four HRD approaches considered in this article.
HRD intervention Managerial coaching Objectives and skill set development Provide supply chain managers with an understanding and appreciation of the importance of adopting coaching roles that can enhance the skills, knowledge, learning and performance of supply chain personnel Provide senior level executives with one-on-one coaching that can increase their self-awareness as well as their understanding and appreciation of SCM issues thereby enhancing their effectiveness in leadership roles Provide supply chain personnel, managers and executives with an understanding of the process and implementation of planned change, as well as how to build internal capacity for transferring and sharing the knowledge and skills required to manage and sustain change Provide supply chain managers and executives with an understanding of team leadership and management and strategic initiative implementation approaches that can enable supply chain managers to more effectively lead and manage diverse teams and impact competitive advantage through successful implementation of SCM initiatives

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Executive coaching

Organization development and change management

Team leadership and strategic initiative implementation

Table II. HRD approaches for developing supply chain managers skills and disseminating the SCM concept

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Managerial coaching The notion of managers serving as coaches is not new and has gained credence as research continues to indicate the powerful nature of managerial coaching as an employee development intervention. Ellinger et al. (2010a) dene the manager as coach as a manager or supervisor who enacts specic behaviors that enables his/her employees (or coachees) to learn and develop, thus serving as a facilitator of learning or coach to his/her respective employees. Hamlin et al. (2006, p. 328) suggest that coaching is at the heart of managerial and leadership effectiveness. Several behavioral taxonomies in the HRD literature identify the effective and ineffective behaviors of managers who serve as coaches (Beattie, 2002, 2006; Ellinger, 1997; Ellinger and Bostrom, 1999). These taxonomies can be useful for determining areas where HRD professionals can help supply chain personnel to develop managerial coaching competencies to enhance employee skills, knowledge, learning and performance. Empirical research conducted in supply chain contexts consistently demonstrates the positive inuence of managerial coaching on employee and organizational performance (Ellinger et al., 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010b; Elmadag et al., 2008; Hannah, 2004), while Kim et al.s (2013) recent study further underlines the potential value of managerial coaching. According to Fawcett et al. (2010), a key characteristic of the indispensable supply chain leader is coaching. However, the managers interviewed in Fawcett et al.s study strongly reiterated the need for coaching. But at the same time, they noted that few within their organizations possess true coaching skills (p. 27) because most companies are not cultivating managerial coaching capabilities. Despite the apparent benets of managerial coaching, HRD scholars agree with Fawcett et al. that managerial coaches are often rare in practice. Often, work demands, lack of time, insufcient training, and mis-aligned reward systems contribute to sporadic or non-existent levels of managerial coaching (Ellinger, 2013). Yet, Hutchinson and Purcell (2007) identify a number of supportive conditions for promoting coaching by line managers. Based on these criteria, HRD professionals, for whom coaching is deemed an area of expertise, can design, develop, and implement coaching training programs for supply chain managers, can serve as one-on-one coaches to supply chain managers and can help to foster work environments that are conducive to managerial coaching. Executive coaching At the mid, senior, and executive levels, executive coaching is becoming an increasingly prevalent skill-development intervention (Baron and Morin, 2009). Kilburg (2000, p. 65) denes executive coaching as a helping relationship formed between a client who has managerial authority and responsibility in an organization and a consultant who uses a wide variety of behavioral techniques and methods to assist the client to achieve a mutually identied set of goals to improve his or her professional performance and personal satisfaction and consequently to improve the effectiveness of the clients organization within a formally dened coaching agreement. Similarly, Stokes and Jolly (2010) suggest that executive coaching enables senior level executives to become more self-aware thereby enhancing their effectiveness in leadership roles. Baron and Morin (2009) identify a number of empirical studies that suggest executive coaching is positively associated with self-efcacy, leadership, organizational commitment, conict resolution, and individual performance.

Although typically provided by an external coach or consultant, HRD professionals are often equipped with the expertise necessary to help senior managers in need of executive coaching because of their consulting and change facilitation skills. Slone et al.s (2007) article entitled, Are you the weakest link in your companys supply chain? provides a template of topics whereby executive coaching may help CEOs to not become unwitting weak links in their companies own supply chain strategies (p. 117). Given the critical nature of supply chain operations in organizations, Slone et al. identify seven areas inuenced by CEOs: picking the right leaders, initiating benchmarking and devising metrics, setting incentives for supportive behavior, keeping up with supply chain technologies and trends, eliminating cross-functional crossed wires, adding supply chain insight to business planning, and resisting the tyranny of short-term thinking. Slone et al.s (2007) research provides a self-assessment tool for CEOs to evaluate their level of supply chain leadership across the seven key areas as well as some strategies to help CEOs address low scores on the self-evaluation. The recommended strategies include hiring top supply chain talent, rewarding behavior that benets the entire organization, and investing personal time in learning about industry innovations and new technologies. It is possible that executives and CEOs who are not sufciently up to speed with SCM may need some personalized development in order to fully engage and ensure that they are not acting as unwitting negative inuences. In such instances, executive coaching may represent a developmental approach that can serve to enhance CEOs understanding and appreciation of critical SCM-related strategic issues and encourage the requisite behaviors and knowledge to leverage SCM for competitive advantage. Organization development and change management While managerial coaching and executive coaching are interventions used to bring about changes in individual effectiveness and performance, a multitude of interventions exist at the team, group and organization levels to bring about planned change. According to Cummings and Worley (2009), organization development (OD) typically refers to planned changes in the strategy, structure and/or processes of an entire system (p. 2) to improve organizational effectiveness. OD is often distinguished from change management (CM) based upon value orientation. Whereas OD embraces the notion of transfer of knowledge and skills to build capacity for internal change, CM does not necessarily require the transfer of such skills. Moreover, CM is often associated with operational issues like cost, quality, and work scheduling (Cummings and Worley, 2009). Models used by HRD professionals and managers to guide the process of planned change generally have action research as a core underpinning. Within the cyclical process of action research, organizational members may partner with HRD professionals, OD consultants, subject matter experts or others internal or external to the organization with the specic expertise to assess problems and areas in need of improvement. This involvement in diagnosing problems, designing and implementing appropriate solutions to address such problems, and then evaluating the impact of the planned change is intended to reect the importance of organizational members as co-learners in the process. Organizational members ultimately own the problem and the solution and learn how to build capacity for change during the process. Cummings

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and Worley (2009) further contend that managers are increasingly being challenged to develop and apply OD and CM skills given the pace of change and the need for them to play central roles in managing and sustaining change. Supply chain managers with the requisite cross-functional (and cross company) understanding and communication skills to champion major change are relatively rare (Cottrill, 2010; Fawcett et al., 2010; Sweeney, 2013a, b). However, Slones (2004) account of Leading a supply chain turnaround provides an impactful example of how a senior supply chain executive successfully effected change by relentlessly communicating with functional area counterparts to sell the revolution and ensure buy in for the devotion of substantial organizational resources to radical SCM process change. Slone et al.s outline provides a roadmap that may be used by HRD professionals to help supply chain managers develop the cross-functionalist and inter-organizational communication skills needed to effectively champion planned change in supply chain processes that may affect multiple internal and external constituents. Team leadership and strategic initiative implementation Closely related to the development of change facilitation skills is the ability to lead and manage diverse teams that is highlighted in Table I as a necessary and desired skill for supply chain managers (Christopher, 2012; Cottrill, 2010; Slone et al., 2010). Team development, team building, and conict resolution among teams are interventions that have a long history in OD and for which a large and growing body of literature exists (Cummings and Worley, 2009). Given the importance of teamwork, collaborative integration, and open and trusting communications in the SCM context (Prokesch, 2010; Sweeney, 2013a), leveraging the skills of HRD professionals to create training and development initiatives focused on team leadership and management could also prove benecial to the development of supply chain managers skill sets. With the growth of virtual teams and technologies that enable teamwork and collaboration to occur across time zones, cultures, and geographies (Freidman, 2005; McWhorter, 2010), it is essential that supply chain managers develop skill sets to leverage virtual work team situations. Again, HRD professionals are typically well versed in team/group interventions and could be called upon to apply their expertise towards enhancing supply chain managers team leadership and management skills. Similarly, HRD professionals expertise can be leveraged to help supply chain managers implement the myriad of SCM-related strategic initiatives like lean process implementations, outsourcing of core activities, the adoption of new technologies and the offshoring of sourcing and manufacturing. With regard to the implementation of such strategic initiatives, Alagaraja and Egans (2013) case study examines the role and strategic value of HRD professionals involved in a lean process implementation. The study ndings show that HRD professionals were instrumental in the implementation of several initiatives at both at the corporate and local strategic business unit (SBU) levels. At the corporate level, HRD professionals facilitated 360-degree appraisal, team accountability, and communication campaign; at the local SBU, HRD professionals were responsible for developing new-hire orientation, revamping employee-related training, and facilitating the Q12 survey for capturing employee engagement data (p. 19). Despite the predominantly transactional-based approaches to SCM personnel described by McAfee et al. (2002) and Shub and Stonebraker (2009), people involvement

is critical to the success of strategic initiative implementations in supply chains (Maku et al., 2005; Shub and Stonebraker, 2009; Sweeney, 2013a). To this end, a recent white paper provides a benchmark for lean process implementation in supply chain contexts that may be used by HRD professionals as a template for helping supply chain managers to more effectively involve people in the implementation of strategic supply chain initiatives (Ryder Corporation, 2011). Conclusion The strategic signicance of SCM has become more apparent to rms in recent years as senior managers realize and empirical studies consistently indicate that superior execution of the supply chain concept is associated with superior nancial performance (Ellinger et al., 2011, 2012). However, although the SCM industry appears to be poised for sustained growth, there is an ongoing shortage of supply chain managers with the broad range of managerial skills and competencies to foster operational innovation and effectively manage complex supply chain processes. Moreover, rms current training and development initiatives for SCM personnel may not be sufciently aligned with the objective of developing the requisite skills and competencies for supply chain managers. Many organizations accord high degrees of lip service to the notion that people are vital to SCM (McCarter et al., 2005), and extant literature has devoted far more attention to technical and physical components than to the human and behavioral components or soft side of SCM (Smith-Doerein et al., 2011; Shub and Stonebraker, 2009; Sweeney, 2013a; Tokar, 2010). In consequence, although the success of the myriad of strategic SCM initiatives implemented by organizations is predicated on human interaction, creating an organizational culture in which change can be effectively managed represents a particular challenge for supply chain leaders (Sweeney, 2013b, p. 34). Perhaps the shortage of appropriately developed SCM managers and the associated challenges with implementing change is because OD a core function and domain of expertise for HRD professionals is often left to organizational leaders and managers who are tasked with such responsibilities but who may not be equipped to execute them. In contrast, HRD professionals tend to be knowledgeable about theories of change, and are trained to use a number of action research based change models that enable them to partner with managers and leaders to help them facilitate and implement strategic change initiatives. Current market trends indicate that rms must become more proactive in the development of supply chain managers. Leveraging the expertise of HRD professionals to facilitate this strategic necessity appears to make a lot of sense. Therefore, the ongoing shortage of appropriately developed SCM personnel and the increasing strategic importance and nancial signicance of SCM practice present opportunities for HRD professionals to become more cognizant of the human and behavioral nuances of SCM and to apply their expertise to contribute towards the achievement and maintenance of competitive advantage. Implications for practice and directions for future research This conceptual manuscript considers interventions that can be developed and implemented in partnership with HRD professionals to improve SCM managers skill

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sets and disseminate a better understanding of the SCM concept throughout organizations. We propose that executive coaching interventions at the individual level may help senior leaders and SCM managers gain personal self-awareness that may enable them to further develop the requisite skill sets and improve their value as leaders. Further, developing the managerial coaching capabilities of SCM may enable them to develop their employees. Similarly, interventions focused at the group and team levels may enable leaders and SCM managers to build integration and teamwork, as well as develop higher levels of trust through managerial coaching of individual employees within teams. In addition, interventions that help leaders and SCM managers to more effectively facilitate organizational change may develop organizational climates that are more conducive to fostering the operational innovation that can improve complex supply chain processes. This paper also represents a foundation for research that better establishes the HRD-SCM connection. As mentioned above, there is a relative lack of research that examines the so-called soft side of SCM, and studies that examine the inuence of HRD interventions in SCM contexts are also rare. More research on these topics would serve to extend what is currently known about the application of HRD expertise in SCM contexts and would help organizations to better manage strategically signicant supply chain processes by more effectively addressing the needs of the SCM personnel who are tasked with the responsibility to do so. Suggestions for conducting research to better establish the HRD-SCM connection include examining organizations recognized for superior execution of the SCM concept an annual ranking of such rms is published by Gartner Supply Chain group annually to evaluate how these best in show/best practice rms are exploiting HRD and OD competency to capture the minds and souls of SCM personnel. Assessments of how exemplary supply chain managers (like the protagonist in Slone (2004)) acquired their cross-functional communication, inuencing and change implementation skills would also help to identify roadmaps for developing effective supply chain managers. Finally, detailed examinations of the efcacy of formal and informal HRD interventions combined with evaluations of the quality rather than the quantity of training and development for SCM personnel would serve to establish a better understanding of the relative benets of alternative HRD approaches and interventions in SCM contexts. Christensen and Raynors (2003) contend that many studies are so focused on success stories and best practices that failures are not considered and that the most useful research helps managers understand the circumstances in which theories or, in the current context, training and development interventions, do and do not work. Worst case/failed practices should therefore also be examined to assess ineffective as well as effective HRD interventions in order to identify inuential factors in the development (or non-development) of supply chain personnel. It would also be interesting to conduct longitudinal analyses that examine the inuence of HRD interventions designed to enhance supply chain managers skill sets. Case analyses, eld observations, and in-depth interviews are appropriate research approaches for crafting a more comprehensive understanding of the potentially diverse support and developmental needs of supply chain managers. The authors hope that the issues considered in this paper will stimulate further research on the HRD-SCM connection, an important, but relatively dormant area in the extant literature.

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Further reading Hansson, B. (2007), Company-based determinants of training and the impact of training on company performance: results from an international HRM survey, Personnel Review, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 311-331. Mangan, J. and Christopher, M. (2005), Management development and the supply chain manager of the future, International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 178-191. Mintzberg, H., Jorgensen, J., Dougherty, D. and Westley, F. (1997), Some surprising things about collaboration knowing how people connect makes it work better, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 60-71. Shrage, M. (1990), Shared Minds, The New Technology of Collaboration, Random House, New York, NY. Swart, W., Hall, C. and Chen, H. (2012), Human performance in supply chain management, Supply Chain Forum: An International Journal, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 10-21. About the authors Alexander E. Ellinger (PhD, University of Georgia) is the Frank Schultz Professor of Business Administration in the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration at The University of Alabama. He is Editor of International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and conference proceedings. His research interests include the inuence of human resource development strategies in logistics organizations, marketing/logistics interdepartmental integration, and resource-based theory and rm performance. Prior to entering academe, he worked in the retail furniture industry. Andrea D. Ellinger (PhD, The University of Georgia) is Professor of Human Resource Development at The University of Texas at Tyler. She is editor of Human Resource Development Quarterly and is the recipient of the 2012 Academy of Human Resource Development Scholar of the Year Award. Her research interests include informal learning in the workplace, organizational learning, evolving managerial roles, managerial coaching, mentoring, and the learning organization concept. Prior to entering academe, she worked in sales and marketing in the technology and social expression industries. Andrea D. Ellinger is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:

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