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I just can’t stand not knowing or understanding things. It is not enough to know that X causes Y; I need to know how, why, and under what conditions.
Learning is a lifelong passion for me. It began in early childhood, endured through three degrees at the University of Arkansas, and persists today as an assistant professor of Supply Chain Management at the Harbert College of Business. The calculated journey from novice to master fuels me to read incessantly and sift through big data sets to unmask the world around me.
Dr. Jessica L. Darby's background as a commodities analyst sparked her interest in exploring how various institutions influence supply chain operations.
I relish the opportunity to make a difference. I am honored to work with leading supply chain scholars here at the Harbert College. I believe my skill set and unique industry background complement the department’s current arsenal of knowledge. As a former commodity analyst, I approach supply chain from a slightly different perspective. I saw firsthand how the outside world— e.g., weather, governments, regulatory agencies, investors, and even current events—influences the supply chain’s inner workings.
I emphasize that influence in my research. For example, how does policy uncertainty—i.e., a lack of clarity about the future path of government policy—influence how firms manage inventories? As it turns out, policy uncertainty induces stockpiling behavior (like we saw during the trade war), as firms try to insulate their operations from the ebbs and flows of policymakers’ whims.
As another example, how does stock ownership influence the speed with which firms recall defective medical devices? On the surface, it seems like recall timing should be driven by the device’s potential to harm patients. A deeper examination, however, reveals that the financial interests of key stockholders play important roles, too, as certain ownership stakes encourage firms to drag their feet when it comes to recalls. Such influences keep dangerous medical devices on the market longer to the detriment of public safety and, ironically, stockholders.
But let’s take it another step. Research is best served when its findings impact student learning, supply chain practice or public policy. In the classroom, my students analyze the environment, such as trade policy changes, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, and recommend supply chain strategies to manage change in an increasingly uncertain world. Likewise, my research arms supply chain managers and policymakers with knowledge of the environment’s often overlooked influences and the consequences for supply chain operations.
After all, knowledge is power.
Dr. Jessica L. Darby is Assistant Professor in Supply Chain Management at the Harbert College. Her research explores how institutions, such as government, regulatory agencies, and financial markets, influence supply chain operations and decision-making. Darby's background as a commodity analyst sparked her interest in this space, and her research has appeared in leading supply chain management and agricultural economics journals.