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Operations and information management

The work of the Operations and Information Management (OIM) group builds on the dynamic interactions between operations management and information systems.

The group is headed up by Dr Olga Matthias. See all staff and research students in the group.

The research of the OIM group examines their theories and practices in various organisational contexts.

The group is made up of research active and research engaged academics with a range of expertise in many areas of operations, technology and information management.

Current themes and associated research areas include:

  • Information systems and operations – information and management; information security; decision support systems; the development, use and effectiveness of information systems in organisations and society; the application of information technology in manufacturing, strategic and operational flexibility; information systems planning, strategy and investment.
  • Operations and supply chain management - manufacturing system design; lean systems; quality management; performance measurement, management and optimisation; management of change; e-procurement and e-supply chain management; the impact of reverse e-auctions on supply chain relationships and organisational agility; high reliability organisations; partnering and supply chain risk.
  • Sustainability in operations – supply chain sustainability; reverse logistics; the circular economy and value recovery; green IT and sustainable systems; system innovation for radical resource productivity; organisational change and adaptation to external environmental issues; environment management.
  • Technology in operations - the impact of internet technologies on businesses (including strategy, organisational design, change management and supply chain management); the technology life cycle; the business impacts of next generation manufacturing technologies; issues of trust in e-government.
  • Learning, knowledge, culture and managerial work in operations - knowledge management; organisational learning; the learning organisation; reflective, work-based, team-based and experiential learning; the impact of culture on operations and performance; managerial work and its impact on operations; employability.
  • Business and society - social enterprise and social regeneration.

Research projects and publications

The group undertakes research in both manufacturing and service contexts in the private, public and third sectors.

It has a strong focus on meeting the needs of practice, and industry-based funding has been obtained through involvement with Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and direct sponsorship from organisations such as the National Health Service, the European Commission, British Academy/Leverhulme, Yorkshire Forward, Foundation, Incommunities, Pilkington plc and Kitagawa (Europe) Ltd. Various research methods are used by members of the group including quantitative techniques (such as computer modelling and simulation, fuzzy logic, AHP/ANP, survey research), qualitative techniques (e.g. case studies, interviews, focus groups) and action research.

Recent books and book chapters within the group include:

  • Robert Lomas (2011), Mastering Your Business Dissertation: How to Conceive, Research and Write a Good Business Dissertation, Routledge.

  • Olga Matthias, (2011), Chapter 12 in Operations Management, Paton, S., Clegg, B., Hsuan, J. and Pilkington, A., Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.

Recent grants within the group include:

  • Rana Tassabehji (2013) – Technology and Tiaras: Understanding the Role of Women in Technology Innovation; (British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grants programme).

Recent publications within the group include:

  • Barber, K. D., Beach, R. & Zolkiewski, J., (2012), Environmental sustainability: a value cycle research agenda, Production Planning and Control, 23 (2-3), pp. 105-119.

  • Xie, Y. & Breen, L., (2012), Greening community pharmaceutical supply chain in UK: a cross boundary approach, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 17 (1) pp. 40-53.

  • Abdi, M.R. (2012), Product family formation and selection for reconfigurability using Analytical Network Process, International Journal of Production Research, 50 (17), pp. 4908-4921.

  • Taylor, M. & Taylor. W.A., (2012), The technology life cycle: conceptualisation and managerial implications, International Journal of Production Economics, 140 (1) pp. 541-553.

  • Trueman, M., Cornelius, N. & Wallace, J., (2012), Building brand value online: Exploring relationships between company and city brands, European Journal of Marketing, 46 (7/8), pp. 1013-1031.

Staff research profiles

Dr Reza Abdi specialises in manufacturing system design, decision support systems, analytical hierarchical process (AHP) and analytical network process (ANP), environmental management, computer modelling and simulation, and fuzzy logic.

His most recent publications have focused on Performance Evaluation of Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems and Human-Environment Interactions Based on Biophilia Values.

Professor Kevin Barber’s main research interests are sustainable operations management and reverse supply chains, knowledge management in manufacturing companies, design of management systems, systems modelling and performance measurement.

Kevin has established a practical method for developing a process-based knowledge management system to support continuous improvement and asset management. In a second study, he has demonstrated the use of an intranet to map an organisation's processes as a form of knowledge management system to improve competitiveness.

Dr Roger Beach focuses on the application of information technology, particularly in manufacturing, strategic and operational flexibility, high reliability organisations and supply chain management.

His current work is on partnering, supply chain risk and sustainability.

Dr Liz Breen has research interests in various areas within the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain (PSC) including reverse logistics, risk management, e-solutions, logistics solutions and supplier development.

Her overarching research agenda is improvement within the PSC, with a distinct focus on knowledge transfer and collaboration with the practitioner industry.

Specific areas of interest are: Risk management in an NHS Pharmacy, Reverse Logistics, Homecare services in the NHS, Supply-chain development, E-commerce in hospital pharmacies.

Liz was also the joint academic supervisor on a recently completed Knowledge Transfer Partnership with University of Bradford's Faculty of Engineering and Informatics and Incommunities Ltd. (a Bradford-based social housing company).

The project concerned sustainable housing design and service development.

Professor Peter Hopkinson has research interests in the relationship between natural environmental and resource issues, innovation and organisational strategy and adaptation, including the circular economy; business models for radical resource productivity; organisational change and adaptation to external environmental issues.

Peter is currently working on the translation of the circular economy to city level and regional scale.

Dr Zahid Hussain has a research background in information systems development in the UK National Health Service.

His current research interests include the usefulness of social behaviour approaches in looking at the development, use and effectiveness of information systems in organisations and society; information systems solutions for organisations, such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems; the impact of the internet and e-commerce on consumers and society; information systems planning, strategy and investment; Green IT and sustainable systems; Technological Innovation; and Data Protection Laws and IT outsourcing.

Zahid’s most recent work concerns the place of project management in a logistic world, with reference to process repetitiveness and project uniqueness.

Dr Craig Johnson specialises in the learning organisation, organisational learning and action learning. His comparatively recent PhD was entitled "Standing on the Toes of Giants: Social Movement Theory and the Case of the Learning Organisation".

This was an assessment of how management theory is developed in general (social movements), the phenomenon known as management gurus (the giants) and how this related to theories of the learning organisation.

Craig is now pursuing various related lines of research.

Dr Olga Matthias is currently researching effectiveness and service quality within the Healthcare sector, the impact of culture on operations performance within projects, and co-dependency between relationship and service quality in management consultancy.

Dr Rana Tassabehji has several research interests: Managing information security in organisations; the impact of internet technologies on supply chain management, including e-procurement and e-supply chain management; Reverse e-auctions; trust in e-government and the impact of internet technologies on businesses - including strategy, organisational design and change management.

Rana’s current projects include an ERDF study of the impact of e-technology on SMEs; an EPSRC-funded network for e-Government Integration and Systems Evaluation; an EU-funded Asia-Link project entitled Euro-Asia Collaborations and Networking in Information Engineering System Technology.

Dr James Wallace has undertaken research in the main areas of information and management, social enterprise and social regeneration, and business and society, applying his statistical expertise to the exploration of these fields.

He is a member of the research centre, Paris Research in Norms, Management and Law (PRIMAL), an international network of scholars coordinated by the University of Paris.

He is currently involved in two PRIMAL projects on mentoring including a national project conducted in collaboration with the research unit of the CFDT union in France.

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