Governments and nations are in current movement around the world - the Arab spring, presidential elections in France and the US, political upheaval in the Euro Zone, just to name a few. All these events have had repercussions across supply chains. In a recent statement made by President Obama, US companies were called upon to ensure they come up with a strategy to secure supply chains. What does this mean? What is the role of nation states in our supply chains?
Reading the statement from the White House, what strikes me is that there is nothing new in what's being asked: responsible governments seek to secure a nation's domestic interest. Without diving too deeply into hegemonic stability theory, the United States carries an additional responsibility in the global economy and with extended supply chains, that responsibility extends to the the safeguarding of global trade and the flow of products. The Obama Administration appropriately used more business-oriented and supply chain terminology for an undertaking the US government has assumed since the 1940's.
Government is not responsible to ensure I have a fresh flow of iPads, bottles of Bandol 2007 red wine, Kobe beef or any other product imported to the United States. The Government is responsible for ensuring that vital items - those which are important to national security - are protected. Energy, medicine, basic sustenance, to name a few.
Governments are also called upon to assist when events impact the supply chains - natural and man-made disasters. For this reason we witness the global community rallying when events such as the Japan tsunami or the floods in Thailand strike. The need to rapidly get these areas back on their feet is important to the global economy.
The video from the Navy is a great piece on the role of an extended government:
Governments provide an ecosystem for supply chains to compete. It is up to companies to focus on the fundamentals to achieve their goals. End-to-end visibility and an understanding of the impact of these events on the business are the first steps. Once organizations gain this real-time visibility, they can begin to put in place the executionable means to gain constant business process improvements - in other words, to become more operationally responsive.
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