International Journal of Production Research

Viability of Supply Networks and Ecosystems: Lessons Learned From COVID-19 Outbreak

Guest editors

Professor Dmitry Ivanov, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany

Email:  (Managing guest editor)


Professor Alexandre Dolgui, Head of Automation, Production and Computer Sciences Dept., IMT Atlantique, France



Professor Jen Blackhurst, The University of Iowa, USA

Email: ​

Professor Tsan-Ming (Jason) Choi, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong



Submission deadline:​

Deadline of Manuscript Submission: 31st August 2021 (Extended)

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About the special issue

Supply chains (SC) and production systems worldwide have experienced an unprecedented series of shocks caused by the COVID-19 virus outbreak - a new instigator of SC disruption, quite unlike any seen in recent times. The resulting global pandemics and SC collapses yield a series of completely novel decision-making settings for SC researchers and practitioners. This Special Issue is motivated by these new and challenging settings and aims at elaborating on a new notion – SC viability as an intersection of resilience, adaptability and sustainability. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has not only immensely affected all areas of economy and society but also put the resilience of SCs to the test.


Have the established SC resilience measures (Yoon et al. 2018, Hosseini et al. 2019), e.g., anticipatory and coping mechanisms such as risk mitigation inventories, subcontracting capacities, backup supply and transportation infrastructures, and data-driven, real-time monitoring and visibility systems helped the companies to survive and recover through the pandemic times?

Is that the one most adaptable that will survive?

Which impacts can be observed in light of SC sustainability triple bottom line?

For some SCs, demand has drastically increased and the supply was not able to cope with that situation (e.g., facial masks, hand sanitizer, disinfection spray). As such, the question of market and society survivability was raised. For other SCs, the demand and supply have drastically dropped resulting in the production stops (e.g., automotive industry), the danger of bankruptcies and necessities of governmental supports. Here, the questions of SC survivability again arose. It is evident that both these questions go beyond the existing state-of-the-art in SC resilience since they cannot be resolved within a narrow SC perspective but rather require analysis at a larger scale considering interconnected supply networks and production systems.

This Special Issue aims to extend the angles of SC resilience and risk management towards SC viability and survivability under conditions of long-term and unpredictably scaling global disruptions using the COVID-19 case. Viability is a system ability to meet the demands of surviving in a changing environment. The example of coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak clearly shows the necessity of this new perspective where substantial contributions can be done in future. 
Moreover, the COVID-19 example clearly provided an evidence for the existence of the Ripple effect in global SCs – firms had to stop production worldwide to do missing supply, quarantine measures and market disruptions (Dolgui et al. 2018, Ivanov 2020). The COVID-19 outbreak shows that in the case of extraordinary events, SC resistance to the ripple effect needs to be considered at the scale of survivability or viability to avoid SC and market collapses and secure the provision with goods and services. 

A further lesson learned from COVID-19 outbreak is that it is equally challenging to overcome the analysis of single SC resilience and to examine the issues of survivability of the whole industries and services. The SCs in real life do not operate autonomously but are rather spanned and interconnected within and even across the business sectors forming supply ecosystems or intertwined supply networks (ISN) (Ivanov and Dolgui 2020). For example, a traditional understanding of automotive SCs is the car production as the final output goal. Differently, the ultimate goal of an automotive SC ecosystem is to provide a mobility service to society. In electronics industry, a traditional SC understanding yields production of some electronic devices as a desired output performance while the performance of the electronics SC ecosystem is rather related to providing communication service to society. Obviously, the analysis of disruption impacts at such a level is concerned with long-term securing the mobility and communication in the society, i.e., ensuring the viability, rather than with performance impact of disruptions in individual SCs in terms of revenue or annual sales, as traditional SC resilience analysis usually does. 

The study by Ivanov and Dolgui (2020) introduced in this regard two new concepts – the intertwined supply network (ISN) and viability. An intertwined supply network (ISN) is an entirety of interconnected SCs which, in their integrity secure the provision of society and markets with goods and services. The firms in ISNs may exhibit multiple behaviors by changing the buyer-supplier roles in interconnected or even competing SCs (Zhao et al. 2019). Other relevant research streams can be found in the theories of complex adaptive systems (Choi et al. 2001) and SC structural dynamics (Ivanov et al. 2010). Fraccascia et al. (2017) point to the multiple, intersecting SCs in the industrial symbiosis which are characterized by using the waste of some SC processes as the inputs into the other SCs. Choi et al. (2020) show different forms of SC interconnections in the sharing and circular economies. There are symbiosis of commercial and humanitarian logistics when several business and humanitarian SCs are sharing the warehouse facilities (Dubey et al. 2019). Moreover, SCs of different industry sectors are intertwined. As such, the issues of collaborative, collective survival in the presence of extra-ordinary conditions are very important, and new research areas. For example, suppliers in the automotive sector are at the same time producers of valves for respirators. Such an integrated consideration of viability and intertwined supply networks principally extends the classical SC resilience understanding and therefore it becomes a timely and crucial research task to develop a new thinking of resilience towards viability. Viability can extend the SC resilience angles toward survivability in the cases of extraordinary events (Ivanov and Das 2020). The SC survivability in the context of such extra-ordinary events goes beyond the achievement of mere economic goals and brings the discussion to the next level, i.e., SC performance in terms of securing the life on earth. Moreover, manufacturing and production system viability need to be secured over a longer period. 


All the considerations above clearly show that SC viability is a timely and crucial topic. This Special Issue calls for new understanding, new theories, and novel approaches concerning SC viability conceptualization, its antecedents, its drivers, and its economic and social performance implications. 

Topics of interest

The special issue aims to address the following, but not limited to, potential topics: 


  • Adaptive supply networks

  • Collaboration of humanitarian and business logistics for survivability 

  • Collaboration within SC ecosystems (firms, governments, healthcare) for viability

  • Collective behavioral actions for SC viability

  • Complex adaptive systems with applications to SC viability

  • Dynamic analysis of the SC viability using control and simulation

  • Ecological modelling approaches to SC viability

  • Framing the SC viability and survivability concepts from the network theory perspective

  • Flexible capacity and production systems to ensure long-term viability

  • Forecasting the impacts of epidemic outbreaks on the SCs

  • Game-theoretic modelling of the SC viability

  • Impact and value of digital technologies, Industry 4.0, Big Data analytics, and additive manufacturing on SC viability

  • Impact of the epidemic outbreaks on SC performance

  • Manufacturing viability through resilience

  • Network structures of SC ecosystems and their viability 

  • Optimization of network redundancy to ensure SC viability

  • Re-start and recovery of the SCs after the long-term, global interruptions

  • Ripple effect and SC viability

  • Ripple effect in the intertwined supply networks

  • SC sustainability and epidemic outbreaks

  • Supply localization concepts within the global networks

  • Survivability of intertwined supply networks

  • SC re-design during and after the global epidemic outbreaks

  • Viable SC designs: localization, globalization or hybrids?

  • Viable production and sourcing strategies


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