PhD Studentship: The Impact of Social Media on Information Exchange in the Supply Chain

Aston University - Aston Logistics and Systems Institute

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Aston Logistics and Systems Institute at Aston University. The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on logistics and supply chain data analytics. 

Empirical research has shown that supply chain relationships in which partners exchange accurate and relevant information are more successful than relationships that do not exhibit this trait. The use of information technology plays a central role in enabling supply chain integration and allows supply chain partners to increase the volume and complexity of information exchange. It also enables real-time information sharing, which increases visibility in the extended supply chain. The arrival of social media technologies adds a new and potentially critical dimension in this context where in modern economies the flow of communication and information have become at least as important as the flows of physical products. Past research has explored the impact of Wed 1.0 IT on information exchange, relationships and supply chain performance (For example Evangelista, Mogre, Perego, Raspagliesi & Sweeney, 2012), however Web 2.0 enabled social media networks are being increasingly utilised within supply chain management in order to enhance productivity, innovation and collaboration. There is currently a lack of empirical research on this development and it is this gap in the body of knowledge that this study aims to address.

The aims of this research is to observe and describe behaviours of supply chain participants, meanings and languages used by supply chain partners, while also interpreting and extracting patterns of communication and codes of conduct and the resulting implications with regard to the exchange of information between supply chain partners. Thus, this research will generate fresh insights into the phenomena under investigation.

A mixed methods approach is proposed to examine the impact of social media (for example Twitter or Yammer) on information exchange in the supply chain, namely the quantitative content analysis of big data social media communication and the qualitative netnographical analysis of a smaller data set social media communication. Whilst big data have captured the attentions of both practitioners and researchers especially in the financial services and marketing sectors, big data analytics can play even more crucial roles in Supply Chain Management. The proposed qualitative methodology of this research project is netnography of social media applications within the supply chain. Netnography is “a new qualitative research methodology that adapts ethnographic research techniques to study the cultures and communities that are emerging through computer-mediated communications” (Kozinets, 2002, p62). This methodology enables “participant-observational research based in online fieldwork. It uses computer-mediated communications as a source of data to arrive at the ethnographic understanding and representation of a cultural or communal phenomenon.” (Kozinets, 2010, p60).

We would particularly like to encourage application from women seeking to progress their academic careers. Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recently recognised by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive environment and family atmosphere

To submit an application and for details of the entry requirement and funding please visit the Aston University website here.

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Midlands of England