Rosanna Cole

Dr Rosanna Cole

Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Supply Chain Management
+44 (0)1483 683642
21 MS 02
Wednesdays 10.00-13.00 or email for an appointment


University roles and responsibilities

  • Deputy Head of the Department of Business Analytics and Operations
  • Sustainability Fellow at the Institute for Sustainability
  • Deputy Head of the Department of Business Transformation (2019-2020)
  • Deputy Director of the Centre for Sustainable Enterprise Management (2016-2018)
  • REF Output Review Panel (2019-2020)
  • FASS Festival of Research Academic Planning Group (2019)
  • Personal/Academic Tutor
  • Professional Training Year Tutor

Business, industry and community links

Surrey Chambers of Commerce
Panel member for RENEW: Supply Chain & Procurement following Covid-19, 28th May 2020.
Chair of the edie LIVE Circular Economy Theatre (Supply chains, frameworks and standards for circularity) and Facilitator for the “Building a sustainable supply chain" workshop, NEC Birmingham, 22nd May 2019.

Chair of the edie Sustainable Supply Chains Conference, London, 27th June 2018.

Chair of the edie Leaders Club ‘Moving beyond audit with your supply chain’ roundtable, London, 14th March 2018.

Chair and Welcome Keynote speaker of the edie Responsible Procurement and Supplier Engagement Conference, London, 27th June 2017.


Research interests

Research projects

Research collaborations


Postgraduate research supervision



Zahra Shirgholami, Rosanna Cole, James Aitken (2024)Shifting the perspective on labor exploitation: Non- commercial organizations' contribution toward supply chain governance, In: Journal of Supply Chain Management Wiley

Labor exploitation persists within global supply chains regardless of governmental legislation, private governance mechanisms, and increasing consumer demands. Notably, non-commercial organizations have been lauded as potential facilitators of improvements in labor standards through their capability to influence supply chain actors. Through an analysis of 45 semi-structured interviews across three cases, this research provides rich evidence of non-commercial organizations' contribution to governance linked to the persistence of labor exploitation. The findings reveal that the constraining factors of change capabilities of non-commercial organizations are (1) recognition of their limitations to enact improvements when their organizations are positioned in a heterogeneous supply chain context, (2) lack of a level playing field that provides a fair competitive environment to improve labor standards, and (3) labor deregulation. Similarly, the complex situation faced by non-commercial organizations created dilemmas that hindered progress in addressing labor exploitation. Governance inertia is an overarching issue that circumscribes the ambitions of non-commercial organizations to enhance labor standards. This research emphasizes the issues and challenges that constrain these uniquely placed organizations in facilitating positive change in global apparel supply chains.

James Aitken, Eric Deakins, Heather Skipworth, Rosanna Cole (2024)Temporal Perceptions and Tensions in Production Management, In: European management journal Elsevier

This study, through conducting a micro-level analysis of temporal dimensions, identified divergent temporalities between managers, who establish temporal practices, and operators who work within the established norms. Data collected from three organizations experiencing production-related temporal operating tensions were triangulated across a survey, semi-structured interviews, observations and supported by secondary data. Four temporal operating tensions, that reflect gaps between managerial and operator temporal understandings, were identified; Efficiency versus Effectiveness; Process Standardization versus Process Improvement; Synchronization versus Autonomy; and Control versus Flexibility. This research identifies resulting temporal operating tensions and potential mitigation approaches at the junction of managerial practices and operator activities, illustrating the importance of understanding tensions at the micro-level. 

Bogdan Dorneanu, Elliot Masham, Mina Keykha, Evgenia Mechleri, Rosanna Cole, Harvey Arellano-Garcia (2023)Assessment of centralised and localised ice cream supply chains using neighbourhood flow configuration models, In: Supply Chain Analytics4100043 Elsevier Ltd

Traditional food supply chains are often centralised and global in nature, entailing substantial resource consumption. However, in the face of growing demand for sustainability, this strategy faces significant challenges. Adoption of localised supply chains is deemed a more sustainable option, yet its efficacy requires verification. Supply chain analytics methodologies provide invaluable tools to guide decisions regarding inventory management, demand forecasting and distribution optimization. These solutions not only enhance facilitate operational efficiency, but also pave the way for cost reduction, further aligning with sustainability objectives. This research introduces a novel decision-making approach anchored in mixed integer linear programming (MILP) and neighbourhood flow models defined in cellular automata to compare the environmental benefits and vulnerability to disruption of these two chain configurations. Additionally, a comprehensive cost analysis is integrated to assess the economic feasibility of incorporating layout changes that enhance supply chain sustainability. The proposed framework is applied on an ice cream supply chain across England over a one-year timeframe. The findings indicate the superiority of the localised configuration in terms of economic benefits, leading to savings exceeding £1 million, alongside important reductions in environmental impact. However, in terms of resilience, the traditional configuration remains superior in three out of the four examined scenarios.

ROSANNA COLE, Noor Al-Ma'aitah, Rima Al Hasan (2022)Integrating Syrian refugee workers in global supply chains: creating opportunities for stable trade, In: Journal of humanitarian logistics and supply chain management Emerald

Purpose: This paper presents an empirical study of a Syrian refugee workforce in textile export from Jordan. The purpose of this study is to determine the challenges of integrating Syrian refugees into the local workforce and to consider the implications of these challenges for the global supply chain aiming to create stable trade. Methodology: Data were collected via three face-to-face focus group interviews with refugees' workers and managers at a clothing factory site in Al-Duleil, Zarqa. Data were analysed using Gioia methodology. Findings: Worker attitudes, factory environment, and government support are important factors for refugees' workforce participation. The success of integrating refugee Syrian into the Jordanian workforce was largely a matter of their attitudes, commitment and motivations for taking up manufacturing work. Misconceptions about the roles refugees will undertake were identified, which results in a fewer people becoming self-sufficient through employment. Research limitations/implications: This research contributes to understanding refugees' long-term integration in the host country by investigating refugee workers' and their managers' perspectives. Considering the views of multiple stakeholders could enrich the literature on refugees' integration. Originality: Rather than focus on the procedures of integrating refugees in the host country, this study provides the voices of refugee migrant workers themselves, thereby offering a more complete picture of those factors shaping refugees' (dis)integration in local communities. Social implications: Understanding refugees' perspectives facilitates their integration in the host country which lead to improvement in their wellbeing and quality of life. More broadly, Jordan's approach to integrating refugees into the economy is seen as a development opportunity rather than a crisis to be handled.

ROSANNA COLE, ZAHRA SHIRGHOLAMI (2022)The outlook for modern slavery in the apparel sector in a post-lockdown economy, In: Supply Chain Management27(4)pp. 526-537 Emerald

Purpose This paper argues that the closures will cause regressive rather than progressive modern slavery shifts as the necessity of survival prevails over addressing modern slavery risks within supply chains. Design/methodology/approach In the spring of 2020, global clothing retailers were advised or ordered to close physical stores due to lockdown measures of the COVID-19 pandemic and many supply chains temporarily halted production. This paper explains how pre-pandemic modern slavery advancements will be detrimentally affected as a result of societal lockdowns and apparel retail closures around the world. Findings Two consequences of lockdowns are highlighted, which will have negative implications on modern slavery progress. These are the exploitation of vulnerable people, which includes higher exploitation of those already involved in modern slavery and increased risk of exploitation for those susceptible to being drawn (back) into modern slavery and; the need for repetition of previous work completed by external stakeholders or in some cases, a better alternative. Practical implications The pandemic itself causes friction between immediate response solutions and long-term modern slavery goals. Social implications In response to modern slavery drivers, governments may need to fill governance gaps, to control the power of corporations and to reconsider migration regulation. Originality/value The COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent supply chain disruptions were unforeseen. This paper argues that there are significant negative effects on the developments in modern slavery eradication made in the past 10 years. As businesses struggled for basic survival, the apparel manufacturing sector has been detrimentally affected as upstream labourers are now at higher risk from the increased likelihood of modern slavery violations.

Rosanna Cole, Brent Snider (2019)Rolling the dice on global supply chain sustainability: A total cost of ownership simulation, In: INFORMS Transactions on Education INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences)

Sustainability in management education is a potential solution to societal challenges, influencing students’ worldviews and attitudes to contribute to a more profound social change. Through this innovative dice-based classroom simulation, students are exposed to supply chain sustainability, total cost of ownership (TCO), and risk management while also understanding their linkages through effective instructor debrief. Student teams compete by selecting sourcing options such as supplier location, transportation methods and sustainability reputation from a menu, then see how their decisions fare as the product line life cycle is simulated with a dice. The debrief facilitated by the instructor, compares and contrasts results across the teams generating insights into the interrelationships between supply chain sustainability choices, total cost of ownership, and risk management. Successfully conducted by multiple instructors, in multiple countries and across all levels of management education (undergraduate, MSc, and executive MBA), survey results (n=350) plus a pilot study (n=31) confirm that this dice-based simulation accomplishes multiple learning objectives while also providing a highly engaging experiential learning classroom environment for this sample.

Rosanna Cole, James Aitken (2019)The role of intermediaries in establishing a sustainable supply chain, In: Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management Elsevier Ltd

In sustainable supply chain management, buyers may use intermediaries to bridge exchanges with suppliers when knowledge of suitable sustainability practices is weak and in need of facilitation. Understanding how supply chain intermediaries perform this role and what happens when intermediation is no longer needed is important in establishing more sustainable supply chains. Two supply chain intermediaries have been investigated with the resulting case study evidence analysed using the Gioia methodology. The findings suggest supply chain intermediaries add value to the buyer-supplier exchange by facilitating sustainability-related information transfer, knowledge development, risk management and improved capabilities. For example, specific practices such as corrective action reports, often managed by the intermediary, underpin the development of a sustainable supply chain. When the intermediary is no longer needed, they become disintermediated from the specific buyer-supplier exchange but may be re-employed in a new triadic relationship in the future with previous parties. This provides positive spill-over effects through intermediation–disintermediation–post-inter-mediation cycles for both the buyer and supplier populations and for broader society. Overall, the findings highlight the value of the transient position of supply chain intermediaries in establishing sustainable supply chains and the intended consequences of their involvement.

M Thurer, Rosie Cole, M Hanna, C.W Protzman (2020)Classroom Simulations for Teaching Production Control in Nonrepetitive Contexts: Insights for Theory and Practice, In: Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education Wiley

When introducing production control solutions, most textbooks focus on a to-stock, repetitive context. In response, we extend the classical match and dice game, which focusses on a repetitive context,in order to teach complexitiesthat emerge in a non-repetitive context, such as the emergence of direct and indirect load, and to introduce appropriate production control solutions, e.g. Constant Work-In-Process (ConWIP)and Control of Balance by Card Based Navigation (COBACABANA). Twofield testsareused to prove the playability of our game and assess its teaching effectiveness using post-game scores and self-assessment. Both give support to our game and highlight that it helps students to understand complex knowledge.Applying the simulation as part of aniterative design process in two cases not only ensured the pragmatic validity of our design, i.e. that learning objectives were met, but also provided important insight on the production control systems taught. During the applicationwe encountered several issues that provide insights for the implementation of concepts as COBACABANA (or Workload Control) in practice. In terms of theory, applying the game showed that there is a change in mindset required when switching from Kanban to COBACABANA and physics synchronization is essential for logistics synchronization.

Rosanna Cole (2017)Turning Point. Getting their Wings: Angel Agents Live On - Supplier Stewards in Sustainable Enterprise, In: Journal of Corporate Citizenship2017(67)pp. 3-11 Greenleaf Publishing in association with GSE Research

This ‘turning point’ highlights stewardship theory as an underused but highly applicable behavioural organisational theory to explain and enhance sustainable supply chain management practices. By partly rejecting well accepted agency forms of governance mechanisms, the recommendation to investigate stewardship theory as a way to explain our observations in sustainable operations is encouraged. Future research demonstrating and supporting the use of angel agents will be both provocative and engaging by evidencing the removal of the control mechanisms many see as a necessity in principal-agent relationships. For academics and practioners, adapting theory for modern contexts such as sustainable development, is an important requirement to tackle new challenges. Identifying examples of stewardship theory in buyer-supplier exchanges, which are typically emblematic of a principal-agent approach, is under researched but conspicuous enough to be the subject of empirical and theoretical studies.

Rosie Cole, Mark Stevenson, James Aitken (2019)Blockchain Technology: Implications for operations and supply chain management, In: Supply Chain Management : an International Journal24(4)pp. pp 469-483 Emerald

Purpose: To encourage the study of blockchain technology from an Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM) perspective, identifying potential areas of application; and to provide an agenda for future research. Approach: An explanation and analysis of blockchain technology is provided to identify implications for the field of OSCM. Findings: The hype around the opportunities that digital ledger technologies offer is high. For OSCM, a myriad of ways in which blockchain could transform practice are identified, including: enhancing product safety and security; improving quality management; reducing illegal counterfeiting; improving sustainable supply chain management; advancing inventory management and replenishment; reducing the need for intermediaries; impacting new product design and development; and, reducing the cost of supply chain transactions. The immature state of practice and research surrounding blockchain means there is an opportunity for OSCM researchers to study the technology in its early stages and shape its adoption. Research implications: The paper provides a platform for new research that addresses gaps in knowledge and advances the field of OSCM. A research agenda is developed around six key themes. Practical implications: There are many opportunities for organisations to obtain an advantage by making use of blockchain technology ahead of the competition, enabling them to enhance their market position. But it is important that managers examine the characteristics of their products, services and supply chains to determine whether they need or would benefit sufficiently from the adoption of blockchain. Moreover, it is important that organisations build human capital expertise that allows them to develop, implement, and exploit applications of this technology to maximum reward. Originality: The first paper in a leading international OSCM journal to analyse blockchain technology thereby complementing a recent article on digital supply chains that omitted blockchain.

Rosanna Cole, James Aitken (2019)Selecting suppliers for socially sustainable supply chain management: Post-exchange supplier development activities as pre-selection requirements, In: Production Planning & Control30(14)pp. 1184-1202 Taylor & Francis

The aim of this paper is to provide an understanding of how the supplier selection process used by buying organisations to establish socially sustainable supply chains has evolved from the traditional purchasing function. Through the application of a socially responsible purchasing (SRP) approach, organisations are attempting to address the challenges of selecting appropriate suppliers to engage with. To achieve SRP, behavioural agency attributes were found to complement traditional agency forms of governance from the start of the process. Through the use of an exploratory case study approach, three focal (purchasing) firms pursuing a strong sustainability agenda, and two supply chain intermediary organisations were investigated. The results show that supplier development activities previously positioned post-selection, are now performed at the pre-selection stage, moving them to the beginning of the process. Suppliers must now demonstrate commitment to sustainability through implementing improvements highlighted in corrective action reports at the pre-selection point before any financial transactions occur. The movement of post-selection supplier development activities to the pre- selection stage, to align sustainability goals and reduce risk, is a significant finding of this paper that purchasing personnel and suppliers should consider in the establishment of a socially sustainable supply chain.

B Snider, N Southin, Rosie Cole (2019)Patio Swings Intermodal Shipping Competition: An Inquiry Based Partial Information Exercise, In: Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education17(2)pp. 146-162 Wiley

Rather than providing all the required information as classroom exercises typically do, this international purchase and intermodal transportation competitive in-class exercise intentionally holds back selected supply chain details. This Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) approach simulates a real-world Distribution Requirements Planning (DRP) scenario by requiring students to identify what information they need and seek out those details from the instructor while competing with fellow student groups. In this 20-30 minute exercise students are challenged to identify the all the necessary supply chain activities required to effectively ship patio swings from a supplier in China to a national retail chain in time for a spring sale. Generating the benefits of improved critical thinking in a fraction of the time required for traditional IBL, the approach is best described as a Partial Information Exercise (PIE). A student survey (n=310) found that students strongly supported the inquiry approach, it generated significantly increased interest in global supply chain management roles and responsibilities, and over 91% of participants recommended the exercise continue to be part of the introductory operations and supply chain management course.

M. Stevenson, Rosanna Cole (2018)Modern Slavery in Supply Chains: A Secondary Data Analysis of Detection, Remediation, and Disclosure, In: Supply Chain Management23(2)pp. 81-99 Emerald

Purpose: To examine how organisations report on the detection and remediation of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains; and to understand their approaches to disclosing information in response to modern slavery legislation. Methodology: An analysis of secondary data based on the statements released in response to the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act by 101 firms in the clothing and textiles sector. Findings: Many firms use the same practices to detect and remediate modern slavery as for other social issues. But the hidden, criminal nature of modern slavery and the involvement of third party labour agencies mean practices need to either be tailored or other more innovative approaches developed, including in collaboration with traditional and non-traditional actors. Although five broad types of disclosure are identified, there is substantial heterogeneity in the statements. It is posited however that firms will converge on a more homogenous set of responses over time. Research limitations: The study is limited to one industry, responses to UK legislation, and the information disclosed by focal firms only. Future research could expand the focus to include other industries, country contexts, and stakeholders. Practical implications: Managers must consider how their own firm’s behaviour contributes to the modern slavery threat, regulate both their stock and non-stock supply chains, and ensure modern slavery is elevated from the procurement function to the boardroom. In making disclosures, managers may trade-off the potential competitive gains of transparency against the threat of information leakage and reputational risk should their statements be falsified. They should also consider what signals their statements send back up the chain to (sub-)suppliers. Findings also have potential policy implications. Originality: The study expands our understanding of: (i) modern slavery from a supply chain perspective, e.g. identifying the importance of standard setting and risk avoidance; and, (ii) supply chain information disclosure in response to legislative demands. This is the first academic paper to examine the statements produced by organisations in response to the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Rosanna Cole, Claire Frances Lindsay, Fiona Barker (2018)Reverse exchange of healthcare devices: the case of hearing aid equipment in the UK, In: Production Planning & Control Taylor & Francis:

Reverse exchange (RE) in dealing with the return, recycle and reuse of products is receiving a growing focus. When properly handled, RE in healthcare can deliver an economic benefit of cost minimisation and has extensive positive impacts on both human health and the environment (Li and Olorunniwo, 2008) but to date, RE research is mostly limited to pharmaceutical return. This paper investigates the potential for RE benefits in the UK National Health Service (NHS) supply chain for medical devices. Hearing aids supplied to adults with hearing loss are used as an illustrative example. This research applied a consensus approach through the use of dispersed nominal groups in order to obtain qualitative data on information, barriers, solutions and priorities to support findings. Findings illustrate that the end user behaviour of returning the device, and the requirement by NHS Procurement for manufacturers to meet RE targets are secondary to the importance of audiology departments who have the autonomy to design RE processes and successfully implement initiatives. A schematic highlighting the information and materials flow of the supply chain and the barriers and facilitators to RE is presented for hearing aid devices with potential for transferability to other small medical device supply chains.

Rosie Cole, Brent Snider (2019)Managing in turbulent times: The impact of sustainability in management education on current and future business leaders, In: Journal of Cleaner Production210pp. 1622-1634 Elsevier

During modern times of economic and political turmoil, we ask how we should be educating current and future business leaders to navigate periods of global turbulence. The paper suggests that firstly, undergraduates (future managers) and executive MBA students (current managers) need sustainability embedded in their management education because both groups believe that the global supply chain practices have contributed to global turbulence and that sustainable supply chain actions could help to reduce that turbulence. Secondly, that exposure to supply chain sustainability examples in management education increases global awareness and empathy in current and future managers. Thirdly, it is suggested that a gender balance is required for improved sustainability decision making. Lastly, it is found that direct facilitation by an instructor is not required for threshold learning and that it can occur exclusively through self-reflection. The overarching contribution of the paper is that rather than viewing economic, environmental, social and political turbulence as external factors that managers must simply navigate, supply chain sustainability education enables managers to connect how their global supply chain decisions can either intensify or reduce the turbulence.

Angeliki Papathanasiou, Rosanna Cole, Philip Murray (2020)The (non-)application of blockchain technology in the Greek shipping industry, In: European Management Journal Elsevier

The implementation of blockchain technology (BCT) is gaining traction in supply chain networks, revolutionising the operation of contemporary supply chains and reshaping the potential of business relationships. Empirical studies on blockchain adoption are scant because implementation across networks is in fairly early phase of development, yet evidence from empirical studies is highly desirable. This is one of the first studies of blockchain adoption in the Greek shipping industry, which has not so far been examined by the literature, in direct comparison to early adopters in other European countries such as Norway. The research examined eight Greek shipping companies using workshops with experienced supply chain personnel. Qualitative analysis identified the current position of these organisations in terms of blockchain adoption, by considering possible benefits and inhibitors to implementation. Despite benefits of automated processes and reduced paperwork as a result of smart contracts, findings show a reluctance to adopt BCT. That is, enterprise resource planning (ERP) transformations have left organisations fatigued and disinclined towards further systems development and resistant to subsequent change. Also, the exposure of shared information in the shipping nexus is considered to cause a threat to competitive survival.

Rosanna Cole (2023)Inter-rater reliability methods in qualitative case study research, In: Sociological Methods and Research SAGE Publications

The use of inter-rater reliability (IRR) methods may provide an opportunity to improve the transparency and consistency of qualitative case study data analysis in terms of the rigor of how codes and constructs have been developed from the raw data. Few papers on qualitative research methods in the literature conduct IRR assessments or neglect to report them, despite some disclosure of multiple researcher teams and coding reconciliation in the work. The paper argues that the in-depth discussion and reconciliation initiated by IRR may enhance the findings and theory that emerges from qualitative case study data analysis, where the main data source is often interview transcripts or field notes. To achieve this, the paper provides a missing link in the literature between data gathering and analysis by expanding an existing process model from five to six stages. The paper also identifies seven factors that researchers can consider to determine the suitability of IRR to their work and it offers an IRR checklist, thereby providing a contribution to the broader literature on qualitative research methods.

Sarah Robinson, Maral Muratbekova-Touron, Christian Linder, Ricarda B. Bouncken, Melike N. Findikoglu, Massimo Garbuio, Martina Hartner-Tiefenthaler, Ioannis C. Thanos, Barak S. Aharonson, Andreas Strobl, Haina Zhang, Antonia Erz, Sylvia von Wallpach, Pinar Bayhan Karapinar, Andreas Diedrich, Eve Saint-Germes, Rosanna Cole (2022)40th anniversary editorial: Looking backwards to move forward in management research, In: European management journal Elsevier Ltd

Additional publications