Expert Insight: Guest Contribution

By James Hamister, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor MS/SCM,

Wright State University

Date: December 3, 2009

Wright State University's Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management Delivers Direct and Relevant Business Value

Program Delivered in Blended Format Geared Towards Working Professionals

Wright State University offers an innovative, one-year, Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management degree.  This program is delivered in a blended format, with five on-campus residencies followed by online instruction that is geared towards working professionals.  A frequent theme in our conversations with Supply Chain professionals is their search for on-going, dynamic, knowledge networks of other supply chain professionals to assist in their efforts to transform their supply chain operations.  Professional associations, online discussion groups, and informal networking have grown over time as sources of this store of knowledge, but often are lacking in the deep relationships among members required for knowledge sharing.  To address these needs, students are organized into two cohorts per year, starting in January and July.   The cohort structure of our masters program provides a means to create, grow and build these relationships among supply chain professionals.  The development of these relationships can provide benefits to students and alumni, and it also provides benefits to sponsoring organizations.

Each student completes a major applied project in partial fulfillment of the degree requirements. Completing an applied project demonstrates mastery of supply chain management principles and best practices taught in the program. This capstone project is the final hurdle for achieving the M.S. degree, and generally requires a six to nine month effort on the part of the student. Many of our students enter the program with specific projects identified by their sponsoring organization. Each project has an organizational sponsor and an academic advisor that is a subject matter expert in the particular field.  I’ve described a few example projects in this brief article.

Motivation for projects


The primary motivation for capstone projects is to improve operational performance in the integrated supply chain. A significant part of the cost structure of most organizations resides in the supply chain, and progressive organizations have found that this area can be highly leveraged for performance improvement. For example, a company with a 50% cost of goods sold structure and a 5% profit margin can double profitability with a 10% improvement in the supply chain. Additionally, some of our sponsoring organizations are motivated to transform their organizations through the application of best practices that are taught in the program. Capstone projects serve as a transformational mechanism by exposing the organization to latest practices and world-class research competencies available at Wright State.

Project impact on the economy


Student capstone projects are helping regional organizations remain competitive, thus contributing to renewing the health of our local economy. Our projects have included: improvement in process performance through process redesign for a healthcare manufacturer, reduction in complexity through rationalization of product lines for a major manufacturer of compressors, improvement of logistics flow applying lean principles to Ohio logistics network. In addition, our students have implemented a supplier balanced scorecard tool that has substantially improved supplier performance for a tool manufacturer. Projects are intended to have significant performance impact, often well in excess of six-figure improvements. This substantial payback can more than justify the intense effort of achieving an advanced degree in 12 months.

How to apply


Classes begin in July and January of each year. Program details and application information are on line at:




by contacting Dr. James Hamister, Ph.D.

(937) 775-2895 

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About the Author

James Hamister received his PhD from The State University of New York at Buffalo with major area of research in supply chain management.   He earned an MBA from Cornell University with majors in operations management and international business, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from General Motors Institute.

Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., Hamister had 15 years of industry experience in manufacturing management.   He worked as a manufacturing project engineer for a major manufacturer in both Europe and South America, and also held management positions for a mid-size manufacturer in quality management and general management.

Hamister’s research interests revolve around the interface between marketing and operations management.  His ongoing research projects involve the study of supply chain management initiatives in retail organizations and Six Sigma quality improvement initiatives.  He has published in The International Journal of Production Engineering and The Proceedings of EurOMA Conference and conference presentations for the Production and Operations Management Society and the Decision Sciences Institute.

Dr. Hamister Says:

Many of our students enter the program with specific projects identified by their sponsoring organization.

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