Category Archives: Supply Chain Management

Psychological Stressors Affect Truck Driver’s Experience and Contribute to Shortage in Industry

A 2017 study published in the Transportation Journal gives insight into truck driver woes with a rigorous phenomenological research approach. What does that mean, exactly? These authors went straight to the source and talked to truck drivers about what phenomena cause them stress.

Using this qualitative research methodology, they were able to gather data in two ways: face-to-face interviews with truck drivers and online blogs. Sixty-one participants were asked to describe their experience as a truck driver, and their interviews were transcribed so the researchers could easily find statements about how drivers handle their job. These statements were grouped into themes or categories that became the findings for the study relating to the essence of the truck driver experience.

Being a truck driver is a grueling and often thankless job. Time away from home and family, poor pay and a generally unhealthy lifestyle make it an unattractive career. Recent statistics from the American Trucking Associations show turnover rates were in excess of 90 percent last year, and with the projected growth of demand, the industry is going to experience a painful shortage in the upcoming years. The number of truck drivers leaving the industry is skyrocketing, and new drivers are not there to backfill the void.

Because almost every finished good eventually ends up on a truck, this is a far-reaching problem that hits almost every industry. Here are a few of the types of psychological stress found in the study:

  • Truck drivers experience loneliness and isolation. They also experience health issues that go unaddressed because of inadequate healthcare options, uncertainty about where to find affordable care and tight delivery windows while on the road. Being away from home and an overall unhealthy lifestyle take a tremendous emotional and physical toll.
  • A multifaceted issue, truck drivers feel disrespected by car drivers on the road, customers, dispatchers and managers. While some might say that drivers should not take all the animosity personally, the fact is that they do. They feel they are being slighted as human beings, and that the truck-driving profession is snubbed and met with disdain.
  • The most challenging piece of the puzzle seems to be the regulatory environment. While most drivers understand the intent behind many of the regulations, they often feel stress-related burdens regarding their pay, eligibility to drive and being told how to do their job. Safety is the intent behind most regulations, but drivers feel that the reality is very different.

TruckThe findings in this research are timely. This past December, the Electronic Logging Device rule went into effect. These ELDs are automatically logging the hours of the truckers, and experts are already predicting increased costs for transportation. When it costs more to move products, the increase in transportation cost will eventually be passed on to consumers in cost of goods. The research team plans to conduct a follow-up study in the near future on the psychological stress related to these new ELD rules.

Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, was a co-author of the research regarding truck driver stress.
Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, was a co-author of the research regarding truck driver stress.

What are the implications of these truck-driver stressors to business and to consumers? Consumers need truck drivers. They need the products that truck drivers deliver, and consumers want them in a timely manner. Many companies today are working to improve the truck driver experience in a number of ways such as providing different routes, improving compensation or providing well-being resources. For their part, consumers can improve the experiences of truck drivers as well by being more aware of these stressors and by promoting a more respectful driving experience.

Read more and watch a supporting video at the Supply Chain Management Research Center website or the latest article to be published at Transport Topics at www.ttnews.com the week of August 20.

Walton College Establishes Blockchain Center of Excellence

Building on its history as a global leader in information systems research, the Sam M. Walton College of Business Department of Information Systems at the University of Arkansas has established the Blockchain Center of Excellence to discover and disseminate innovative uses of the emerging technology and to teach students its importance to the future of business and digital security.

Continue reading Walton College Establishes Blockchain Center of Excellence

New Student Jobs at the McMillon Innovation Studio

Beginning in fall 2018, the McMillon Innovation Studio will be forming innovation design teams that will focus on prototyping new models of delivery, services, products and policies in the areas of (1) health and well-being, (2) supply chain and (3) seamless commerce. We will be hiring student project leaders for each of these teams, who will have the opportunity to travel, create and innovate for real impact, gain job experience, earn potential credit hours, and receive potential funding to support innovation prototypes. All majors are welcome to apply.

The McMillon Innovation Studio seeks to shape the future of commerce by inspiring students to be catalysts of innovation.

For more information regarding student job opportunities, visit:

Students with creative, innovative ideas in health and well-being, supply chain or seamless commerce are welcome to join a design team being in fall 2018. Contact Rachel Sullivant at rsullivant@walton.uark.edu for additional information.

Video Project Highlights Shook’s Freshman Business Connections Class

Freshman year is life changing. Everything – from laundry and dorm rooms to classes and free time – is new and different. Teens are expected to navigate through classes and campus, manage their time and thrive on their own.

To help students’ transition to this new lifestyle, Carole Shook, an instructor for the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, created a team project to encourage freshmen to get to know each other, discover resources on campus and strengthen personal development skills.

Freshman Business Connections students visit the McMillon Innovation Studio.
Freshman Business Connections students visit the McMillon Innovation Studio.

Within her fall 2017 Freshman Business Connections class, Shook assigned a team project to create a video overview of the McMillon Innovation Studio on campus and then present their findings in class. The studio, a gift from Walmart chief executive officer and Walton graduate Doug McMillon and his wife Shelley, tests new technologies and is designed to impact the future of retail. The project, designed by McMillon Innovation Studio director Clint Johnson and Shook, required teamwork, time management, exploration of Walton College resources and networking with classmates.

Freshman Business Connections, often referred to as FBC, is taught to first-year business students to acclimate them to campus, understand what resources are available to them, introduce them to other freshman and help them be successful at the Walton College. It introduces them to David W. Mullins Library for research, academic integrity and ethics, the Business Communications Lab for writing assistance, the Credit Counseling of Arkansas for personal finance management, Walton Career Services for job readiness and the degree opportunities at Walton. The class also helps students’ transition from high school to college by nurturing personal development skills such as time management, stress management, financial planning, health and wellness, diversity and team building.

“I would say team management was the greatest skill I improved at,” said Jay Lovaas, a freshman from Canton, Ga. “I had to effectively communicate with my team members, help with any questions they may have had, and rely on them to check my work as I checked theirs.”

After selecting teams, the freshmen interviewed staff and students at the studio and created outlines for videos and presentations. Each student was responsible for a portion of the project and collaborated with the team on deliverables.

Team members Ryan Hardwick, Alexis Humm, Cydney Feinstone, Elijah Kaplan and interviewer Noah Tidmore recorded video, captured still photography, created graphics and wrote interview questions. In their video below, freshman Noah Tidmore interviews Kayla Bruskas, a senior accounting student and student manager for the McMillon Innovation Studio.

Team members for this video include Ryan Hardwick, Alexis Humm, Cydney Feinstone, Elijah Kaplan and interviewer Noah Tidmore.

“This project was created to show that freshmen students can do amazing things,” Shook said. “These were great students who worked hard and with enthusiasm.”

Throughout the project, students learned about the opportunities at the McMillon Studio, got to know their team members and explored campus. Simply put, the project helped freshmen get connected to their new life on campus.

“It was just a fun class,” Lovaas said. “It gets you in the flow of going to class during your first semester. In my opinion, the greatest thing about FBC is meeting people.”

Walton College Center to Host Supply Chain Conference April 17

A conference on Trends in Supply Chain Management: Disruptive Innovation will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the University of Arkansas. Professionals in logistics, manufacturing and retail industries are invited to attend.

The conference will be hosted by the Supply Chain Management Research Center and the Executive Education program at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

2018 Trends in Supply Chain Management: Disruptive InnovationExecutives from Walmart, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., GRIT Studios and Roland Berger will discuss supply chain disruptors, artificial intelligence, changes in commerce implementation and innovative culture.

“Commerce is changing rapidly and, consequently, supply chain professionals must be constantly learning and adapting,” said Brent Williams, associate dean for executive education and outreach for Walton College. “This conference is an opportunity to hear from industry leaders and to network with other supply chain professionals.”

Speakers or panelists include:

  • Stephan Keese, senior partner, Roland Berger
  • Jeremy Verba, general manager, Vudu
  • Tim Madigan, vice president, eCommerce, Tyson Foods
  • Avery Vise, vice president, Transportation Intelligence, FTR
  • Rick Webb, cofounder, GRIT Studios
  • Greg Smith, executive vice president, Supply Chain, Walmart
  • Shelley Simpson, chief commercial officer, J.B. Hunt

To register for the conference, visit scmr.uark.edu. Pre-registration is required. Conference fees are $500 per person and include breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages and parking. For additional information or to register more than five attendees, email execed@walton.uark.edu or contact Blythe Eggleston at 479-575-5871.

EPIC Spotlight – Nick Foster

Nicholas “Nick” Foster is an EPIC Supply Chain student at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas. He is a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., with minors in Enterprise Resource Planning, Data Analytics, Political Science and History. Yes — one major and four minors. He is active on campus too! He is part of Alpha Kappa Psi, a member of Arkansas Supply Chain Association (ASCA), a new member of the Supply Chain Honor Society — Sigma Chi Mu Tau and is in Walton Honors College.

Foster has a passion for learning, and while he credits him mom who always encouraged him to read, he admits he sets high standards for himself to be the best that he can be. For Foster, it isn’t just about a love for learning, he enjoys continuously improving his education.

Continuous improvement led him to supply chain, although he admits initially, it was not at the forefront of his mind when coming to the U of A. His initial focus in history and political science changed during his second semester of freshmen year when Stephanie Thomas, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, opened his eyes to the world of supply chain. The process-oriented aspect of logistics, its versatility as an industry to work in and Walton College has “one of the strongest programs that is available” caused him to declare supply chain as his major.

When he isn’t busy learning, Foster enjoys being outdoors, spending time with his family and his dog, and if he was not already busy enough with all his academic endeavors, he volunteers with local community groups.

He mentors with the Make a Difference Day – Volunteer Action Center and has been an assistant coach for the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department youth soccer league for 8th grade students. He enjoys making connections and helping others, whether it is with middle school students or as a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Walton College students.

And, someday soon, Nick aspires to combine his love of history and learning by traveling to Washington, D.C., where he plans to visit all the major monuments and museums in the area.