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Jan Fransoo’s inaugural lecture: the place of people in managing global supply chains

Published: 19th September 2022 Last updated: 19th September 2022

On September 23rd, Professor of Operations and Logistics Management Jan Fransoo will be giving his inaugural address at Tilburg University. The inaugural lecture will explore the theory and practice of supply, distribution and lead time, as well as the impact human choices have in designing and managing global logistics. Fransoo’s research focuses on how human decisions deviate from what best-in-class models predict to be the most reliable supply of products.

Fransoo also researches the supply chains of small-scale retailers in developing countries and other emerging markets, the so-called ‘nanostores.’ His interest lies in the question of how these retailers can use digitization to provide their local customers with better products for a lower price. At the core of this research is also to characterize shopkeepers’ decisions.

It is estimated that about 50 million nanostores serve 4 billion consumers worldwide. Together they form the biggest retail channel in the world. This market presents shopkeepers, suppliers and consumers with considerable challenges. In his research, Fransoo is studying and developing interventions that could help ensure more reliable supply chains, lower purchasing costs for goods and more efficient handling of payments. These interventions will help both shopkeepers and consumers, who are often at the bottom of the income distribution.

Jan Fransoo also has a personal interest in studying the people who make the decisions each day affecting global logistics chains. Even though artificial intelligence and other advanced software are making more decisions automatically, Fransoo’s research shows that human choices have a much bigger influence on the ultimate availability of products on store shelves, as well as in what country or under what working conditions products are produced, than the forecasts of computer models. Fransoo documents this behavior by analyzing big data showing actual company decisions.

“Because supply chains disrupt our lives practically on a daily basis since the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, much of the thinking in public debates has fallen back on gut feelings and macro analyses. But it is really important that we understand what the basic laws of logistics are and how people deal with them every day when making strategic choices, such as choices in favor of strategic autonomy. That is what ultimately determines what strategic choices we can make here in Europe.”

Jan Fransoo


Jan Fransoo (1965) was appointed Professor of Operations and Logistics at the Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM) as of November 1, 2020. His research has covered a broad range of domains and methodologies, all related to supply chain and operations management. In recent years, his research has focused on retail operations in developing countries and other emerging markets. More specifically, his interests lie in supply chain decision-making by human supply chain planners who increasingly operate in an automated context. In addition to these lines of research, he is also pursuing active lines of research in omnichannel retail, intermodal and sea container shipping, and urban logistics.

Note for editors

Jan Fransoo will be giving his inaugural address entitled 'Rebalancing operations and supply chain management: models, data and humans' on Friday, September 23rd, in the auditorium of Tilburg University. The lecture can also be followed via livestream

For further information or a copy of the lecture program in PDF (under embargo through Friday, September 23, 5:00 p.m.), please contact or call +31(0)13-4664000.