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Five Decades of Operations Management and the Prospects Ahead, Management Science


Operations and Supply Chains is the current title for a department that has evolved through several different titles in recent years, reflecting its evolving mission from a focus on classical operations research at the time of ORSA's founding 50 years ago toward an embrace of a broader body of theory. Throughout this evolution the focus on applied problems and the goal of improving practice through the development of suitable theory has remained constant. The Operations and Supply Chains Department promotes the theory underlying the practice of operations management, which encompasses the design and management of the transformation processes in manufacturing and service organizations that create value for society. Operations is the function that is uniquely associated with the design and management of these processes. The problem domains of concern to the department have been, and remain, the marshalling of inputs, the transformation itself, and the distribution of outputs in pursuit of this value-creating end. Over the past 50 years the department has had a variety of titles, reflecting an evolving understanding of the boundaries of the operations function. In this article we celebrate past accomplishments, identify current challenges, and anticipate a future that is as exciting and opportunity-rich as any our field has seen.




Sunil Chopra, William Lovejoy, Candace Yano

Date Published



Chopra, Sunil, William Lovejoy, and Candace Yano. 2004. Five Decades of Operations Management and the Prospects Ahead. Management Science.(1): 8-14.


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