Swans and Elephants: a typology to capture the challenges of food supply chain risk assessment

Manning, L, Birchmore, I and Morris, W (2020) Swans and Elephants: a typology to capture the challenges of food supply chain risk assessment. Trends in Food Science and Technology. ISSN 0924-2244

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Abstract

Background: As a result of internal or external shocks, food supply chains can transition between existing regimes of assembly and planned activity to situations that are unexpected or unknown. These events can occur without warning, causing stress, shift, even collapse, and impact on business/supply chain viability. Scope and Approach: The aim of this research is to consider how with existing complexity, uncertainty and constantly emerging transitions, risk managers food supply chains can comprehend, and address risk. This study, based on an iterative analysis of grey and academic literature, considers the application of multiple swan (black, grey, white) and black and white elephant theory to food supply chain risk. Case study examples explore and explain the academic theory in more depth. Five types of risk are considered: known knowns, unknown knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns and a category introduced in this paper, unknowable unknowns. Key findings and conclusions: Traditional risk assessment techniques, mediated by the level of knowledge uncertainty, lead risk managers to accept, tolerate, treat or ignore a risk. Effective risk assessment can convert black swans via grey swans ultimately into white swans, but in some circumstances, white swans can escalate to be grey swans again. When the risk manager intentionally chooses to accept a black elephant, this can result in a significant public health incident and/or extreme financial impact. The multiple swan (black, grey, white) and black and white elephant typology developed here can assist risk managers to more effectively visualise and rank supply chain risk.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: black swan, black elephant, grey swan, supply chain shock, risk assessment,
Divisions: Agriculture, Food and Environment
Depositing User: Professor Louise Manning
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2020 12:51
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2021 04:20
URI: https://rau.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/16417

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