Carlos Cordon

Professor of Strategy and Supply Chain Management

Carlos Cordon is Professor of Strategy and Supply Chain Management. His areas of expertise are supply chain management, digital, value chains, digital lean, and process management, all of which are particularly relevant topics in the context of the supply chain challenges that businesses face today. His research and teaching are currently focused on the reconfiguration of supply chains in the face of persistent disruptions, how supply chains are driving revenue, reshoring and onshoring, and digital strategies.

Cordon says supply chain constraints have become a driver of extraordinary growth in profits for some companies as a result of availability constraints, increased demand, and higher prices. General Motors sold 20% fewer cars in 2021 than in 2019 as a result of a shortage of microchips, for example, but still managed to record a 48% rise in profits over the same period.

He is the author of numerous articles and case studies in his specialist fields and has won various awards for his work. He was named on The Case Center list of the top 50 best-selling case authors globally in 2020/21 and was a winner in the 2017 EFMD Case Writing Competition with IMD colleagues Benoît Leleux and Beverley Lennox for a case study on Adidas.

He is also the author of four books, including the 2016 title Strategy is Digital, which explores how companies can use big data in their value chains. The book presents strategies and practices to allow companies to take advantage of the huge business opportunities arising from the advent of big data and guides them through their big data journey.

Supply chains are being disrupted but they are also becoming drivers of extraordinary growth. Price increases and availability constraints have enabled some organizations to deliver record profits.

Cordon is a consultant to multinational companies in the electronics, food, chemical, pharmaceutical, and automotive industries, among others. He has designed and directed numerous executive development programs and has helped some of the world’s biggest companies to develop their supply chain and digital strategies, including Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Coca Cola, Merck, Mondelez, Unilever, Heineken, Philip Morris, Danone, and Reckitt Benckiser among others. He is also a member of the Coca-Cola European Partners’ Digital Advisory Board.

He joined IMD in 1993 after completing a PhD in management at INSEAD. He was previously a manager in Accenture’s manufacturing and distribution consulting group and MIS Manager at Grupo General Cable in Spain (now part of the Prysmian group).

Selected publications
Why sustainability targets are close to mission impossible
Article
Why sustainability targets are close to mission impossible
Influencing suppliers, complying with regulations and sourcing raw materials has become a bureaucratic and logistical nightmare for chief operating officers.
Published 25 November 2021
Re-use or recycle? Designing a business model for the circular economy
Article
Re-use or recycle? Designing a business model for the circular economy
Reuse can transform industries that struggle to recycle products, but it can also impact on the viability of the recycling industry. Before designing a circular economy strategy, companies must dec...
Published 21 April 2021
Article
Physical stores' surprising comeback in the pandemic
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while most physical retailers were scrambling to avoid bankruptcy, remarkably, one company recorded its best performance ever and a few others returned to pos...
Published 2 February 2021
Case Study
The antibiotic ecosystem conundrum
The invention of antibiotics increased the average lifespan by two decades, though WHO warns that antibiotic resistant will become the most common death by 2050 if the resistance issue cannot be ov...
Published 31 December 2020
Strategy is digital: How companies can use big data in the value chain
Book
Strategy is digital: How companies can use big data in the value chain
This book presents strategies and practices to allow everyday companies to cope with the fundamentally changing landscape of business models and to take advantage of the huge business opportunities...
Published 22 June 2016
The value chain shift: Seven future challenges facing top executives
Book
The value chain shift: Seven future challenges facing top executives
Value chains today have a huge impact on multinational corporations’ right to exist and the way they compete. The future challenges associated with value chains are also huge and include new demand...
Published 1 January 2014
Strategic supply chain management
Book
Strategic supply chain management
The supply chain is at the heart of every successful business organization's decision-making process. This textbook explains how to create a winning supply chain management strategy by spotlighting...
Published 30 April 2012
Book
The power of two: How smart companies create win-win customer-supplier partnerships that outperform the competition
This book presents the best way for your company to increase its competitive advantage. By forming close collaborative relationships with a small set of customers and/or suppliers you can achieve a...
Published 9 June 2008
Academic publications
Article
Making the power of two work for you
In this article, the authors present a tested process to transform traditional customer/supplier relationships into superior collaborative ones. It starts by managing the drivers, not the outcomes,...
Published 1 September 2009
Article
Developing a framework for the identification and analysis of the strategic resources and capabilities in supply chains
A fundamental challenge in the resource-based view (RBV)¦research is the identification of strategic resources and¦capabilities, whether they lie within a firm’s boundaries or in¦its supply chain. ...
Published 1 January 2012
Article
Towards an understanding of attraction in buyer-supplier relationships
This paper explores how firms are attracted to one another within buyer-supplier dyads. It draws attention to ways of managing in a relational mode as an alternative to managing in a controlling mo...
Published 1 January 2009
Article
An empirical test of the rigid flexibility model
This paper summarises the findings of an empirical study to test the validity of the "rigid flexibility" model for manufacturing strategy. The basic tenet of the model is that flexibility in manufa...
Published 1 May 1998
Article
Digitization of healthcare organizations: The digital health landscape and information theory
This paper builds on an integrated framework of digital opportunities, based on information theory that was initially proposed by Claude Shannon: 1) providers of infrastructure for transmitting inf...
Published 1 April 2019
Article
Quality defaults and work-in-process inventory
The interactions between quality defaults and work-in-process (WIP) inventory are analyzed. A model is presented where defects produced in one station can only be detected at the next station. In t...
Published 1 January 1995
Article
Lessons from the 'made in Switzerland' study: What makes a world class manufacturer?
The question of how far companies have moved towards world-class manufacturing is at the heart of the Made in Switzerland project, a major benchmarking study of Swiss manufacturing practice and per...
Published 1 December 1996
Article
Teaching supply chain management to business executives
By focusing on the management of entire value chains, supply chain management has gained increasing popularity in management research and in the teaching of global businesses. The right practices c...
Published 1 May 2000
Insight for Executives
How to lower soaring energy costs (without worsening climate change)
Article
How to lower soaring energy costs (without worsening climate change)
As energy prices climb to record highs, businesses of all sectors and sizes need to start implementing energy-saving measures now to prepare for shortages over the winter.
Published 16 November 2022
Inflation: How to raise prices and preserve margins (without losing consumers)
Article
Inflation: How to raise prices and preserve margins (without losing consumers)
Companies can offset the pressure on their cost base by rethinking products, supply chains, and pricing strategies.
Published 5 September 2022
Taiwan tension: Three ways to circumvent the global supply chain crisis
Article
Taiwan tension: Three ways to circumvent the global supply chain crisis
Concerns over “tit for tat” retaliatory measures in the wake of the controversial visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, have underlined the urgent need for co...
Published 9 August 2022
Three ways CEOs can untangle supply chains
Article
Three ways CEOs can untangle supply chains
Boardrooms can no longer afford to neglect supply chain management. Companies can capture more of the value created in the supply chain by bringing top executives up to speed
Published 11 July 2022
Disease and war triggers onshoring of supply chains
Article
Disease and war triggers onshoring of supply chains
As geopolitical tensions flair, multinational companies are bringing production closer to home to boost supply.
Published 21 April 2022
Agile pricing will help firms profit from supply chain constraints 
Article
Agile pricing will help firms profit from supply chain constraints 
An inability to change prices more frequently is the source of a huge missed opportunity when supply is limited, particularly for automakers.
Published 14 April 2022
"A supply chain is as strong as its weakest link"
Article
"A supply chain is as strong as its weakest link"
As we move towards a world of more constrained supply, companies will have to shift their focus to designing products and services around what is available and working more closely with suppliers a...
Published 14 April 2022
Managing risks and relationships: How to make your supply chain more resilient to shocks
Article
Managing risks and relationships: How to make your supply chain more resilient to shocks
Supply chain management should be more than just directing the flow of goods.
Published 18 March 2022
Taking stock: A history of supply chain innovations
Article
Taking stock: A history of supply chain innovations
From a focus on manufacturing to broader responsibility for the entire supply chain, Tetra Pak’s former head of Supply Chain Operations Eric Baudier discusses the highs and lows of supply chain man...
Published 17 March 2022
Supply chain mind map: Try our tool to help make critical decisions
Article
Supply chain mind map: Try our tool to help make critical decisions
Are you overwhelmed by supply chain problems? Martijn Lofvers and Carlos Cordon have created a detailed visual guide will help you manage your way out of a crisis.
Published 17 March 2022
Panic buying will worsen supply chain disruption from the war in Ukraine
Article
Panic buying will worsen supply chain disruption from the war in Ukraine
From discussions I’ve had with supply chain managers over the past week, it is clear there is a huge sense of panic over the potential disruption to supply chains from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,...
Published 8 March 2022
Time to safeguard supply chains against China’s zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19  
Article
Time to safeguard supply chains against China’s zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19  
Restrictions and lockdowns herald even worse disruption for 2022. Multinationals should rethink operations to deal with disruption to manufacturing capacity. China’s “zero-COVID” strategy risks st...
Published 17 February 2022
IBM’s stalled ambitions with Watson show AI isn’t elementary, but can work when focused 
Article
IBM’s stalled ambitions with Watson show AI isn’t elementary, but can work when focused 
When IBM’s Watson supercomputer won US TV show “Jeopardy!” in 2011, it was heralded as a sign of how artificial intelligence would revolutionize industries from healthcare to finance and agricultur...
Published 28 January 2022
Why sustainability targets are close to mission impossible
Article
Why sustainability targets are close to mission impossible
Influencing suppliers, complying with regulations and sourcing raw materials has become a bureaucratic and logistical nightmare for chief operating officers.
Published 25 November 2021
Four strategies to make your energy supply more resilient to price spikes
Article
Four strategies to make your energy supply more resilient to price spikes
With the prices of natural gas, coal and electricity spiking to record highs, manufacturers should start thinking about how to reduce their energy consumption so they can keep production humming ir...
Published 7 October 2021
Re-use or recycle? Designing a business model for the circular economy
Article
Re-use or recycle? Designing a business model for the circular economy
Reuse can transform industries that struggle to recycle products, but it can also impact on the viability of the recycling industry. Before designing a circular economy strategy, companies must dec...
Published 21 April 2021
How COVID-19 vaccines turned the pharmaceutical supply chain into the ultimate gamble
Article
How COVID-19 vaccines turned the pharmaceutical supply chain into the ultimate gamble
“In light of the pandemic, we must design new supply chains to better meet the needs of society,” says IMD supply chain expert.
Published 2 March 2021
Article
Physical stores' surprising comeback in the pandemic
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while most physical retailers were scrambling to avoid bankruptcy, remarkably, one company recorded its best performance ever and a few others returned to pos...
Published 2 February 2021
Why omnichannel will define retail in 2021: the surprising comeback of the physical store
Article
Why omnichannel will define retail in 2021: the surprising comeback of the physical store
The pandemic has created winners and losers in retail, with companies already equipped for an “omnichannel” experience coming out on top. In 2021, retailers that excel in finding their optimal omni...
Published 20 January 2021
Turn the marathon into sprints – how to save the Olympic Games
Article
Turn the marathon into sprints – how to save the Olympic Games
The organisers of global sporting events are obsessed with delivering massive, money-spinning extravaganzas that few hosts can afford. This unsustainable marathon model has to stop. Short-term spri...
Published 13 January 2021
Business supply chain strategies are evolving, can poor countries benefit?
Article
Business supply chain strategies are evolving, can poor countries benefit?
Multiple sourcing and proximity sourcing are taking shape as long-term trends as global firms hardwire resilience and agility into their supply chains. Less developed countries face considerable r...
Published 8 October 2020
Article
Business supply chain strategies are evolving, can poor countries benefit?
Multiple sourcing and proximity sourcing are taking shape as long-term trends as global firms hardwire resilience and agility into their supply chains. Less developed countries face considerable ri...
Published 8 October 2020
Article
How omnichannel can inspire a circular revolution
The emergence of omnichannel means that the age of the circular economy – where materials and energy are reused to minimize the negative impact of economic activity – is within grasp. For companies...
Published 25 September 2020
Article
Forsyningskæderne skal digitaliseres, men der findes ingen færdigsyede løsninger
Making your supply chain agile and flexible is crucial for the future, but be aware that there is no roadmap to success. For companies dealing with fast-moving goods, digichains have resulted in mo...
Published 14 September 2020
Digitize supply chains but don’t expect a universal approach
Article
Digitize supply chains but don’t expect a universal approach
Building agility and flexibility into your supply chain through digitization is key for the future but, be warned, there is no single roadmap to success.
Published 24 July 2020
A post COVID-19 outlook: the future of the supply chain
Article
A post COVID-19 outlook: the future of the supply chain
Coronavirus wreaks economic turmoil around the world, modern supply chains face un-precedented stress and are drawing an increased level of scrutiny.
Published 5 May 2020
Leading in turbulent times webinar series: The strain of COVID-19
Video
Leading in turbulent times webinar series: The strain of COVID-19
Keeping supply chains moving
Published 27 March 2020
Article
Is blockchain all hype? A financier and supply chain expert discuss
Blockchain is a technology with two ingredients: the first is a distributed ledger, meaning a database with identical copies held by everyone in a network. There is no intermediary, no central data...
Published 31 January 2019
Article
Adidas Russia/CIS and the Russian Crisis: Retrentch or double down
This case is based on extensive semi-structured interviews with key adidas Russia/CIS executives who were in charge of implementing the radical IT, supply chain and omnichannel initiatives that tra...
Published 8 September 2017
Sea change: how to make a sustainable global culture shift
Article
Sea change: how to make a sustainable global culture shift
In September 2013, shipping giant Maersk Line was facing an unprecedented organizational challenge. The company was about to enter into an alliance, dubbed the P3 network, with two other container ...
Published 14 June 2017
Agile vs. death-by-committee
Article
Agile vs. death-by-committee
Companies need to create a feedback loop between market and technology, and drive it much faster. Agile techniques enable teams to frequently and reliably feed customer insights back into their dev...
Published 17 April 2017
Supply Chain 4.0
Article
Supply Chain 4.0
The digital revolution is creating a whole new paradigm for what used to be the supply chain. It was once about delivering the right quality at the lowest cost, with the agreed service level; now i...
Published 3 February 2017
Article
Supply chain mindmap
Digital technology is disrupting traditional business and their supply chains. The Internet of Things, big data analysis, Augmented/Virtual Reality, 3D printing, and robotization will have a huge i...
Published 16 November 2016
The three leadership skills to take your business digital
Article
The three leadership skills to take your business digital
In the digital world, the learning cycle is often measured in weeks, not years. Research conducted indicates that many traditional companies are successfully transitioning to become digital compani...
Published 18 May 2016
Big data in real business
Article
Big data in real business
Big data is a big deal for CEO'sas it is having a huge impact on all types of companies - even those not using it themselves. In fact, it has reached a tipping point in almost every aspect of busin...
Published 19 April 2016
Article
The three leadership skills to take your business digital
In the digital world, the learning cycle is often measured in weeks, not years. Research conducted indicates that many traditional companies are successfully transitioning to become digital compani...
Published 14 April 2016
What have digital and social media done to your strategy?
Article
What have digital and social media done to your strategy?
Firms today are beginning to understand the importance of social and digital media to their corporate strategies. They have struggled to survive during a period that has greatly threatened their bu...
Published 6 April 2016
What have digital and social media done to your strategy and what should you do about it?
Article
What have digital and social media done to your strategy and what should you do about it?
In September 2015, almost 100 senior executives with diverse industry backgrounds and expertise attended an IMD Discovery Event on digital and social media. They had the opportunity to analyze how ...
Published 7 March 2016
Here comes the omnichain
Article
Here comes the omnichain
Consumers are radically changing the way they shop. The tsunami-like smartphone revolution caught retailers by surprise and has brought with it unpredictable changes that were unforeseeable five ye...
Published 30 January 2015
Article
LEGO: Consolidating distribution (Abridged)
The unabridged versions of these cases won the 2011 ecch Case Award in the category Production and Operations Mangement, and the Supply Chain Management Award in the 2009 EFMD Case Writing Competit...
Published 1 January 2013
Leverage the supply chain to improve your company’s bottom line
Article
Leverage the supply chain to improve your company’s bottom line
Scarcity of raw materials and soaring prices for commodities, the financial crisis and the increasing intensity of natural catastrophes have created a paradigm shift that requires a fresh analysis ...
Published 24 October 2011
Article
Il terremoto in Giappone ha sconvolto anche la gestione delle aziende
Il terremoto, lo tsunami e l'incidente nucleare che hanno devastato il Giappone hanno fatto suonare in tutto il mondo un campanello d'allarme sulla fragilitĂ  del sistema globale di approvvigionamen...
Published 21 April 2011
Article
Challenges and new realities facing the supply chain
For the past decade and a half the decision around outsourcing has been a relatively straightforward one: it allows companies to cut costs, to make better use of their resources and to focus on gro...
Published 27 February 2011
Article
The case study: Reduced product range and deliveries; rethinking corporate strategy
The resulting conflicts could have derailed the turnround. The breakthrough came when two Lego executives met secretly with their DHL counterparts in a hotel in Prague at the beginning of 2007.
Published 25 November 2010
Article
Prepare-se indĂşstria automotiva
A crise clamou por mudanças, mas os fabricantes não alteraram seus vehlos processos.¦Aquela que anter era conhecida como a "mãe de today as indústrias" hoje está adentrando terras desconhecidas. A ...
Published 9 March 2010
Article
Les défis de Sergio Marchionne: L'avis de l'expert
Sergio Marchionne a annoncé ses intentions de réunir le groupe Fiat à l'américain Chrysler et à l'allemand Opel. Professeur de management à l'IMD, Carlos Cordon a côtoyé l'Italo-Canadien durant ses...
Published 20 May 2009
Article
Surreal thing
Anyone looking to exploit and promote innovation should draw on the example of self-proclaimed madman Salvador Dali, Catalunya's greatest artist and extrovert, says the author.
Published 1 January 2006
Article
Food for thought
Babyfood maker Numico needed to diversify its product range to survive, but lacked the necessary expertise. Then a timely approach by infant food producer Babynov saved the day.
Published 1 October 2004
Article
Hewlett-Packard: Creating a virtual supply chain (A) (Abridged)
This case provides a launching point for discussion of several interesting issues in the area of outsourcing and supply chain management including a one-off outsourcing decision-making situation, h...
Published 1 January 2004
Article
How to link projects, planning and profits
In the past decade project management has become a vital skill for managers. Organisations have shifted from being places where people have static roles and routine activities to places where work ...
Published 13 August 2003
Article
ChemUnity.com
This case study presents a rather special example of B2B - one that allows an appreciation of the subtle differences that need to be considered in understanding the new world of business through th...
Published 1 January 2002
Article
Building a smarter demand chain
A first step in releasing the value locked away in inefficient supply chain practices is to pose the problem in terms of the "demand chain", say the authors. Demand chain thinking starts from the c...
Published 22 February 1999
Article
Damit alles wie am SchnĂĽrchen klappt
Published 23 October 1997
Article
Tabula rasa oder sanfte Veränderung?
Published 8 August 1997
Article
Restructuring: How to improve your success ratio
Restructuring, change, re-engineering, call it what you will, has been the central facet of management for almost a decade. It is likely to become even more intensive in the future. Restructuring w...
Published 1 June 1997
Article
Supply chain management
Supply chain management is a set of practices aimed at managing the chain from raw material suppliers to the end consumer. Business units rather than companies are the essential building blocks. Re...
Published 15 December 1995
Article
Rigid flexibility and factory focus
Simplicity and discipline promote the flexibility, constant adaptation and learning which distinguishes the "world class" factory. Factory focus (typically the isolation of distinct product lines w...
Published 24 November 1995
The Value Chain Shift
Book
The Value Chain Shift
Value chains today have a huge impact on multinational corporations’ right to exist and the way they compete. The future challenges associated with value chains are also huge and include new demand...
Published 1 January 0001
Strategy is Digital
Book
Strategy is Digital
This book presents strategies and practices to allow everyday companies to cope with the fundamentally changing landscape of business models and to take advantage of the huge business opportunities...
Published 1 January 0001
Strategic supply chain management
Book
Strategic Supply Chain Management
The supply chain is at the heart of every successful business organization's decision-making process. This textbook explains how to create a winning supply chain management strategy by spotlighting...
Published 1 January 0001
How companies can use big data in the value chain