In the spring of 2020, the Global Trade Professionals Alliance (GTPA) turned to NC State University to help support a major initiative it was developing to build integrity and resilience for businesses that participate in global value chains (GVC).
The initiative, which has been in the works now for over a year, has involved the collective efforts of nearly 20 organizations, including the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) at NC State’s Poole College of Management.
Thanks in part to the efforts of a team of Jenkins MBA students, SCRC Executive Director Rob Handfield and SCRC Executive Advisor Craig Weeks, the GTPA has just launched a major campaign that will help small-medium enterprises (SME) better integrate and collaborate with multinational corporations (MNC), thus leading to more efficient, sustainable and fair value chains across the globe.
Back to the beginning
To be successful, the GTPA would need to refine their understanding of SME’s and MNC’s—they needed to learn about current SME procurement strategies, the challenges facing MNC’s and areas of opportunity for integration between them.
More specifically, as part of the its mission to cultivate and uphold an inclusive and harmonious trade environment, the GTPA sought data on the training and assistance SMEs would need to successfully penetrate and participate in MNC procurement programs.
Knowing that first-hand perspectives from SME’s and MNC’s would be the ideal source for this information, the GTPA, via its partnership with the SCRC, turned to a team of Jenkins MBA students to create surveys that would be sent out to thousands of SME’s and MNC’s to learn about their strategies, needs and perspectives.
Since the GTPA wanted data that would support all the different types of organizations that make up value chains, the students drafted multiple surveys to serve three distinct audiences: MNCs; SME’s; and Industry and Government; which would allow for multiple voices to be heard and provide a more accurate depiction of current perspectives.
The students spent several months working on the surveys, completing their first drafts during the spring semester of 2020 as the project for their supply chain practicum course. Rob Handfield notes that “Our MBA and engineering students worked through multiple iterations of the survey, to winnow the questions down to what we felt would be relevant insights for global trade professionals.”
By the end of the semester, the GTPA was so impressed with the students’ execution of the project, they invited the students to continue refining and expanding the surveys as interns over the summer—in part to accommodate recent changes to the initiative’s scope brought on by COVID-19.
The final leg
Once the students finalized the surveys, SCRC Executive Director Rob Handfield teamed up with Unber Ahmad, a PhD Industrial-Organizational Psychology major at NC State to launch the survey to the respective audiences in the fall of 2020.
After the results from the surveys came in, Handfield and Ahmad played a vital role in analyzing the data and helping the GTPA craft the reports for each audience, which would ultimately be the end products of the overall initiative.
As of April 2021, the GTPA has three distinct reports for each audience (as well as one report containing key highlights) and has just launched a campaign to distribute the reports to SME’s, MNC’s and Industry and Government organizations across the globe.
The project’s impact
Thanks to the collective efforts of everyone involved, the GTPA’s global campaign will promote adaptive trade leadership and integrity for all players that make up global value chains, and will provide an environmental analysis that will support SMEs efforts to integrate with MNC’s.
The GTPA hopes that, with these new findings, MNCs and SMEs will look ahead with the intentions of de-risking their operations and searching for collaborative business opportunities.
None of this would have been possible without the collective efforts of the students, faculty and advisors at NC State.
“The GTPA has been delighted to partner with NC State and the SCRC on this project. The findings from the survey will be incredibly valuable in the work that we will continue to build integrity in global value chains. We look forward to continuing our partnership as we enter the next stage of our work to build an overarching standard to reduce risk and promote diversity. Our purpose with the initial survey was to identify barriers to diversity and innovation in regional and global trade so that we could work towards a solution that would increase resilience in the face of supply chain disruptions; and to develop standards, enable knowledge sharing, and leverage emerging technologies that enable SMEs’ participation in multinational corporations’ value chains.” – Lisa McAuley, CEO of the GTPA
“This was a tremendous experience for me and the students working on this project. We learned a great deal about the trade challenges that SME’s and large businesses faced during this turbulent time, and look forward to working with the GTPA on on-going research to explore how to address these issues in a post-COVID global economy that is under pressure still.” – Rob Handfield, SCRC Executive Director
To visit the GTPA’s campaign website for this initiative and view the final reports, click here.