Letter from the Editors

Stay focused in times of complexity

Carsten Gelhard and Birte Golembiewski

Organizations, particularly within energy intensive industries, are increasingly forced to handle uncertainties that emerge in the course of a changing resource base or the decreasing security of energy supply. Thus, chemical companies are not only confronted with volatility but also face more frequent interactions with various actors within their environment, such as energy suppliers, governments or NGOs, which, subsequently, may increase both the depth as well as the breadth of the firms’ network. To improve dealing with these complex settings, factors such as the pursuit of common goals or an improvement of knowledge exchange within these networks appear to be essential. Hence, we are pleased to provide a more fine-grained perspective on these emerging challenges and potential solutions, since the articles of the present issue of the Journal of Business Chemistry refer to topics such as technology transfer, supply chain management, or procurement activities within the chemical industry.       

The research paper of the present issue “Technology transfer by new ventures within the chemical and pharmaceutical industry” by Gunter Festel examines the creation of new ventures like spin-offs and spin-outs as a method for technology transfer within or among companies as well as with universities. Using several case studies from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in Germany and Switzerland, the author deals with different dimensions of technology transfer, such as the technology maturity, the need for additional resources, and the outcome of technology transfer. The author finally shows that the maturity may not directly lead to the commercialization of the technology and, furthermore, the findings reveal that academic spin-offs, corporate spin-outs, and internal start-ups differ regarding the acquisition of additional resources as well as the outcome of technology transfer.     

The first paper of our Practitioner’s Section “LEAN SCM: A paradigm shift in supply chain management” by Josef Packowski and David Francas provides an overview of key elements of lean supply chain management (LEAN SCM) and its application in process industries. More specifically, the authors refer to LEAN SCM as an alternative approach for advanced planning and scheduling (APS) as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Besides outlining three essential elements of LEAN SCM, i.e. cyclic planning with rhythm wheels, end-to-end synchronization along the supply chain, and variability management on the capacity and inventory side, the authors additionally present the improvements that have been achieved with the implementation of LEAN SCM.     

In the article “Optimization of economic conditions in the chemical, pharmaceutical and medical technology industry through a stringently interlocking procurement in the holistic business approach”, Ivan Barjasic demonstrates possibilities for improving the value orientation of procurement to increase a firm’s performance. By conducting a cross-industry study based on evaluating the main influencing factors of successful  procurement, such as the underlying strategy, the flexibility of organizing the processes, or the qualification of the staff, the author identifies weaknesses and stresses the need to find a consistent measure for procurement performance. Furthermore, by taking a closer look on chemical, pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors, improving the alignment between procurement and corporate strategy as well as enhancing the efficiency of decision processes appear to be the major opportunities to gain a leading position as “innovative value provider”.   

In his paper “Classification of chemicals in the commercial area”, Kai Pflug emphasizes the importance of reconsidering the choice of classification levels within the chemical industry. Categorization, e.g. of business units or staff positions, is usually performed on the basis of five levels varying from an individual chemicals to an end use perspective. Not only across firms but already within companies various levels are applied. As an overlapping usage results in a complex allocation of responsibilities and reduced exploitation of synergies, the author develops a guideline of how to select the right classification levels.


Please enjoy reading the third issue of the tenth volume of the Journal of Business Chemistry. We are grateful for the support of all authors and reviewers for this new issue. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us at contact@businesschemistry.org.   


Carsten Gelhard, Executive Editor        Birte Golembiewski, Executive Editor  

(cg@businesschemistry.org)                 (bg@businesschemistry.org)