Tom Gattiker, Ph.D.
College of Business and Economics
From his office on the Boise State campus, business professor Tom Gattiker spends a lot of time thinking about supply chain management – about the series of business interactions that occur in moving a company’s products from the drawing board to the consumer.
In addition, Gattiker also spends a lot of time thinking about the environment, and about the effect that supply-chain practices can have on a business’s environmental footprint.
Gattiker, an associate professor in the Department of Information Technology and Supply Chain Management, is combining those interests in a research project funded by the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies (CAPS).
Gattiker and his colleagues at the University of Arizona and University of Tennessee visited urban hubs in Dallas, Atlanta, Newark and other cities last spring and summer to meet with supply chain managers and executives to discuss how they are “greening” their supply chains by selecting suppliers who can help them improve their own environmental footprint and who themselves employ environmentally sound business practices. The study also looked at what these managers and executives perceive as the barriers, enablers and benefits for their respective companies in going green.
CAPS is a research group that teams academics and business leaders to develop research questions in supply chain management. CAPS works with some of the biggest names in business, including IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, FedEx, Starbucks and PepsiCo.
Gattiker and his research colleagues were particularly interested in how pressure from regulators, top management and customers is translated into environmentally friendly business practice – something that, according to Gattiker, can sometimes be difficult.
“You have lots of organizations that really want to make things happen in their organization, but they don’t know what to do,” he said. “If you take that down a couple levels, to where the rubber hits the road, what does environmental responsibility really mean? How do you figure out whether one supplier is environmentally superior to another? ”
Gattiker also recently completed a survey of environmental health and safety (EHS) managers on their efforts to get other managers within their company to cooperate on environmental projects, such as pollution prevention and energy savings. The project identifies tactics that are effective – and ineffective – for gaining the buy-in of other managers for environmental initiatives.
Gattiker hopes that the work will not only influence the way that people think about doing business, but also the way that other university professors think about business – helping to bring ideas into the classroom, and ultimately, into practice.
Results from the first phase of the study are being released in December 2008. In the second phase, Gattiker and his colleagues will zoom in on their findings, by more closely examining the practices of environmentally friendly businesses.
– Reported by Nick Bock