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The Oregonian: Portland State University launches supply chain management degree program
Author: Allan Brettman, The Oregonian
Posted: November 12, 2013

Read the original story here in The Oregonian.

The tried-and-true formula for outsourcing production for the lowest possible labor cost is outdated and does not accurately portray the global production landscape, says a Portland State University administrator and instructor.

"It's no longer chasing cheap labor across the world," said Cliff Allen, of the university's School of Business Administration. "We source where the markets are... I really don't think it's about cheap labor anymore. It's about serving markets."

Certainly, manufacturers are still interested in keeping labor costs down. But Allen contends that's just one of the factors influencing production choices. He offered Japanese automakers building factories in the U.S. as an example of manufacturers locating closer to their customers.

Sourcing is one of the areas explored in PSU's newest graduate business program that launched this fall: the Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management, of which Allen is academic director. The program covers how supply chains are integrated into business strategies, including new product innovation, operations, project management, logistics, analytics and sustainable practices.

The 21-month program with 14 classes has been set up with a working student in mind. After a three-day orientation on campus to start the program, all classes have been taught online with interaction and collaboration through discussion groups and web conferencing. Students will study abroad for two weeks in Asia or Germany.

The PSU business administration school developed the program in consultation with local employers and the school's Business Advisory Council, which is made up of executives from businesses such as Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Boeing.

"Employers are looking for candidates with skills and insights into global economic systems," Pamela Dusschee, executive director of PSU's Graduate Business Programs, said in a news release. "That's particularly true here in Portland, home to a large number of world-class companies competing in the international arena. This new graduate program already has their attention."

Allen, who is teaching the course, "Principles of Strategic Global Sourcing," was most recently senior vice president of product line management and operations with General Dynamics-Itronix in Spokane. He was responsible for the product marketing, design research and development, supply chain and manufacturing throughout Taiwan, China and the United States.

-- Allan Brettman