Research.Lab

The Research.Lab at Rennes SB emerges from our belief that research must be impactful and make a difference.  To make sure that this is the case, we have decided to move out of traditional discipline-based research (i.e., research in marketing, research in finance, etc.) toward research that:

  • Addresses current issues relevant to organizations and institutions, and
  • Is transdisciplinary in nature, cutting through multiple management disciplines.

To identify on which topics such research should focus on, we leveraged existing skills across our multicultural faculty and identified four different areas of strength, which are critically relevant for today’s businesses.

These Areas of Excellence are:

  • Thriving through Complexity
  • AI-driven Business
  • Agribusiness
  • Green Digital, & Demand-Driven Supply Chain Management

Through the competence of our current faculty members and a strategic effort to focus in strengthening these skills via our growth we aim at building unique expertise in these areas so that we can provide relevant, impactful, and novel views on these topics to academics and practitioners alike, thus becoming a reference point on these issues in Europe and worldwide.

Such belief is captured in our Research.Lab motto:

This is different. This makes a difference. This is Research at Rennes SB.

 

Areas of Excellence:

Thriving through Complexity

Fabio Fonti, Associate Dean for Research Director of Doctoral ProgrammesDr. Fabio FONTI, Director for Thriving through Complexity

Complexity in the business environment has been increasingly constantly over the last 10 years and it is expected that such exponential growth will continue in the future. Due to its impact on business, complexity has been viewed as a major problem or challenge for managers and, as a reaction, academics and practitioners alike have tried to come up with ways to minimize it to make it more manageable.

We propose that, rather than a problem, complexity can be seen as an opportunity for organizations and institutions. Being able to understanding it will put managers in the unique position to exploit the many advantages and opportunities it opens up for their organizations. Hence, our goal is to help managers to understand it in its entirety and, by doing so, turn it into a competitive advantage for their organizations. We believe that, if they can do so, they can even architecture complexity to become even more competitive vis a vis their competitors and the environment they face.

We do so by leveraging a vast array of disciplines – ranging from psychology to social psychology, sociology, strategy, information systems, etc. – and by focusing on the following five distinct sub-areas:

Structural and institutional complexity

This sub-area deals with the pressure organizations receive from being part of multiple networks and on the receiving end of multiple stakeholders’ expectations. Some of the questions it will try to address are:

  • How do multi-level and multiplex networks affect organizations?
  • How does institutional complexity (e.g., multiple stakeholders’ pressures) affect organizations?

Words, meaning, and complexity

This sub-area will focus on how to leverage the incredible amount of information available nowadays. It will leverage machine learning and text analysis techniques to make sense of large amount of text available to organizations and, in doing so, fully capture such environmental complexity, especially weak signals.

Problems, decisions, and complexity

Here we will focus on the dilemma managers are facing as they strive to move from making decisions based on limited information to an environment where information is over-abundant but what has become scarce is attention for such information. As we move from a system based on limited information to one where limited attention is the critical challenge, topics such as problem formulation (how to come up with the best problem to solve?) and decision making (how to select the best possible idea and/or solution for an organization) will become critical. Here, we will especially focus on disciplines such as neurophysiology and design to help us come up with better problems and decisions in a complex environment

Information sharing and diffusion

This area will focus on how information diffuses in the environment and how its values changes as it does so. Specific questions we will address are:

  • How information travels online (gets shared and diffused, from one point to many)
  • How value of information changes as it moves from one point to many (e.g., BlaBlaCar or Tripadvisor review)
  • What can businesses learn from that?

Leveraging the wisdom of the crowd

In a complex environment, it is often difficult for one or few people to come up with optimal solutions. This sub-area will focus on the wisdom of the crowd principle, that is on the idea that groups of people arrive at better solutions and come up with better ideas than individuals, thus can more effectively deal with complexity. In this context, we will focus on questions such as:

  • How can we use the wisdom of the crowd to help with problems and decisions in a complex environment?
  • In particular, how can crowdsourcing (a clear example of wisdom of the crowd at work) help with such situations?

AI-driven Business

Dr. Michael DODOWLING ESCWLING, Director for AI Driven Business

Machine learning and AI solutions are rapidly being proposed for every aspect of how we do business. In some specialist areas the current solutions already offer superior performance over human employees. But the real opportunities are yet to come.

In the AI-driven Business Area of Excellence we address the following questions:

  • How do firms prepare for this future?
  • How do they transition to take advantage of the opportunities this intelligence revolution offers?
  • How can businesses effectively integrate AI-solutions for maximum performance gain?
  • How will this affect business processes, customer interaction, firm strategy, innovation development?
  • Who will be the new business winners and losers?
  • What are the ethical and broader societal dimensions?

AI-driven Business is a cross-disciplinary research area which draws on faculty expertise across the entire school. Our focus is on rigourous research treatments of these questions, but also on applying this research for business improvements and also integrating in our student learning to ensure our students are the future business leaders best placed to take advantage of the power of AI-driven business opportunities.

Agribusiness

Dr. Guillaume BAGNAROSA, Director for Agribusiness

BAGNAROSA ESCOver the past decades, increasing agricultural knowledge and numerous innovation systems in the agribusiness have ensured that the international food system provides adequate supplies of food for an always growing population. Beyond this central role played by the sector in food security, agribusiness has also contributed to the global economic development and the worldwide poverty alleviation by being and remaining one of the main industrial sectors. However, and as a result of the increasing awareness of environmental threats and of food safety combined with the agribusiness digitalization from production to processing and to retail, all the processes and infrastructures involved in the globalized food system witness rapid transformations and new constraints raising simultaneously new challenges and opportunities.

In such a context, the Agribusiness Area of Excellence strives to answer the following questions:

  • How, given the importance of ecology, more generally, of the human being’s place in the environment can we develop a sustainable food system?
  • What are the mechanisms involved in the commodities prices dynamic and the behavior of markets’ participants?
  • How should the companies adapt to the constantly and rapidly evolving public policies?
  • While the internationalization of the food system provides demand patterns diversification and meanwhile leads to global value chains, how the different economic actors could benefit of new market opportunities?
  • Under the growing set of constraints and the accelerating pace of digitalization and innovation associated to this sector, how should agribusiness companies adapt and optimize their respective organization and complex manufacturing operations?

Through a cross-disciplinary approach, the Agribusiness Area of Excellence will provide theoretical and applied research related to these questions in order to impart innovating skills to our students and through them actively contribute to a local and international food system sustainable development.

Green, Digital & Demand-Driven Supply Chain Management

Dr. Ramzi HAMMAMI, Director for Digital and Green Supply Chain Management

The Green, Digital & Demand-Driven (G3D) Supply Chain Management Area of Excellence is a multidisciplinary research group in the field of supply chain and operations management. It is articulated around 4 main research sub-areas:

Green Supply Chain Management

Our research aims to revisit the operations management problems with the consideration of environmental aspects (environmental regulations, customers’ environmental awareness, social welfare, etc.). In particular, we focus on the following problems:

  • For companies, how to rethink the supply chain and product decisions while trading-off environmental considerations and economic performance?
  • For regulators, how to design an efficient environmental regulation to improve the social welfare?

Digital Supply Chain Management

The emergence of new picking technologies (e.g., IoT / Internet of Things), transfer technologies (blockchain) and big data analytics is a big opportunity for companies to improve their processes of data transactions, demand forecasting, and planning. However, the adoption of these technologies represents several challenges.

  • How to adapt traditional planning methods to make better use of new technologies (sensors, IoT, blockchain)?
  • What is the impact of new technologies on the design and management of supply chains (production, warehousing, transportation)?
  • How to use big data and business analytics to improve supply chain and business performance?

Business value of Information Technology

Our research examines how IT investments affect economic activities. This study of the impact of IT investigates the following problems:

  • How does IT infrastructure affect strategic management (mergers and acquisitions, business flexibility, innovation, environmental strategy, and corporate entrepreneurship) to increase firm performance?
  • How does Internet technology enable the firm to develop operational capabilities to increase operational performance?
  • How do firms learn to develop social media capabilities to innovate, and improving customer experience and performance?

Matching supply with demand

An efficient management of supply chains requires a deep understanding of market and demand structure and a fine modeling of the relationship between supply chain decisions and customer demand. Our research examines the following problems:

  • How to integrate demand and revenue management with supply chain decisions?
  • How to rethink supply chain design and management decisions with the consideration of endogenous demand?