Managing human capital and technology is critical for sustainable and responsible operations in global supply chains. Facing new technologies and the necessity for the appropriate accompanying skills in global supply chains, organizations must manage well both the technology and the human capital, and must do so both internally and externally. This dissertation focuses on integrating technology and human capital in supply chains, with special emphasis on improving long-term operational sustainability and social responsibility. The investigation unfolds in four arenas: 1) technology development; 2) human capital; 3) work design; and 4) working conditions. Following this conceptual structure, I employ statistics, econometrics, and data analytics to analyze complex data sets from the health care and garment manufacturing industries, providing empirical evidence relating to the four areas and identifying current challenges for maintaining sustainable development in the supply chains of these industries. This dissertation is organized into three essays. Focusing on the health care industry, Essay I investigates how workforce capabilities shape the implementation effectiveness of Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems, one critical component of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. Under the knowledge management framework of technology, the dissertation develops a model on the integration between explicit knowledge embedded in the technology system and tacit knowledge from workforce capabilities, and their impact on care delivery effectiveness in clinical organizations. The results show that more extensive CDS system implementation can enhance care delivery effectiveness, while low levels of related workforce capabilities have a significantly negative impact. The findings on the interaction relationships between the two types of knowledge vary across the types of workforce capabilities. Specifically, trainer needs (i.e., low workforce capability in training on information technology use) negatively moderate the relationship between CDS and care delivery effectiveness, suggesting that this type of workforce capability can strengthen the effectiveness of CDS. However, both informatics needs (i.e., low workforce capability in health informatics skills), and EHR/IT staff needs (i.e., low workforce capability in preparing and maintaining EHR/IT systems) have positive moderating effects. Counter-intuitively, we find that these two types of workforce capability, in fact, dampen the effectiveness of CDS. These findings indicate that a complex relationship exists for the integration of explicit and tacit knowledge related to technology implementation. Essay II investigates how geographical, socioeconomic, organizational, and technological contexts affect telemedicine use and its effectiveness in the health care industry. The dissertation employs the technology-organization-environment (TOE) framework as the theoretical underpinning to examine antecedents and consequences of telemedicine adoption in clinics. Combining data from multiple sources relevant to clinical organizations, our empirical analysis indicates that differences in geographic location characteristics and organizational barriers have significant impact on telemedicine adoption. Specifically, rural and low poverty regions are positively associated with telemedicine adoption, while cost and low local demand are barriers. We further examine the implication of telemedicine adoption on organizational outcomes. The results suggest that telemedicine adoption is related to the effectiveness of care delivery in clinics. More extensive use of telemedicine is associated with greater care delivery effectiveness. However, examining the interaction among technologies, we find that telemedicine reduces the effectiveness of CDS systems – i.e., the benefit of telemedicine is greater in clinics with a lower level of CDS adoption. Essay III uses the Bangladesh ready-made garment (RMG) industry to investigate how buyers in the global garment industry coordinate and collaborate to improve working conditions in supplier factories in Bangladesh. In line with the literature on supply chain trust and risk management, the dissertation explores the implications of three types of working condition risks on buyer sourcing strategy. We characterize these risks as structural risk, fire risk, and electrical risk. We collect data from two large consortiums: North American retailers comprise the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance), and European retailers comprise the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord). We examine the implications of each type of risk for buyer trust and buyer sourcing strategy. The empirical results support the contention that buyers are sensitive to working condition risks in a supplier factory. When working condition risks in a supplier factory increase, buyer trust in the factory decreases. Our analysis, however, shows that this relationship varies with the type of the risk. Specifically, among the three types of studied risks, fire and electrical risks are associated with decreased buyer trust, while structural risk has a marginal negative effect. Further, the negative relationship between working condition risks and buyer trust is contingent on the size of the supplier factory. The results indicate that for a given level of risk, buyers have greater trust in larger factories compared to smaller factories. This may imply that buyers expect large factories to share the responsibility and take corrective actions toward improving working conditions. In conclusion, the dissertation provides new, theoretically grounded empirical insights into managing human capital and technology for sustainable and responsible operations in global supply chains. It echoes the call from the extant literature that organizations are expected to have important and integral social, psychological, and ecological responsibilities. My research contributes to the development of supply chain management theory and applies these theories to real world industrial practice. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the key findings from each of the three essays. Limitations and directions for future research are also identified.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2016. Major: Business Administration. Advisors: Kingshuk Sinha, Susan Goldstein. 1 computer file (PDF); 221 pages.
Managing Human Capital in Supply Chains: Perspectives on Technological Advancement and Social Responsibility.
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