Sustaining industrial growth

Researcher redefines global business strategies
By Erin Pennington

Ike EhieIn the ever-evolving landscape of global business, Ike Ehie’s research is offering insights that could reshape the way companies approach their supply chain strategies. Focused on the intersection of strategic alignment and investment decisions, Ehie’s work is helping shape the future of global business.

Ehie, professor of management in the College of Business Administration, is researching the pivotal role of strategic alignment of supply chain decisions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the years during and following the pandemic, many companies that were faced with supply chain disruptions relocated plants to the U.S. — a decision that was often driven by immediate concerns rather than long-term strategy,” Ehie said.

This drove Ehie to seek the answer to a key question: Does strategic alignment moderate the relationship between plant investment decisions and operational performance of a manufacturing company?

By studying more than a thousand global companies through the Global Manufacturing Research Group, he sought to uncover the moderating role of strategic alignment on the relationship between plant investments and operational performance of manufacturing companies. Through examination of competitive priorities, strategic alignment measures and performance metrics, Ehie found a winning competitive position for companies that aligned their investment decisions with their overarching strategy.

“Strategic alignment is not just a buzzword; it’s a determinant of success,” Ehie said. “The results speak for themselves: Companies that align their investment decisions with their overarching strategy exhibit superior operational and financial performance.”

Ehie was named a Fulbright U.S. scholar from January to August 2023 in Nigeria. He worked with a Nigerian university to assess to what extent companies in developing countries are embracing industry 4.0 and digitalization. Industry 4.0 refers to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, encompassing concepts such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Digital technology adoption involves integrating these advanced technologies into various aspects of business operations to enhance efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. The ongoing efforts to evaluate digital readiness will avail these countries with actionable insights that can drive meaningful improvements.

Ehie’s research has been published in premier journals such as the International Journal of Production and Operations Management, European Journal of Operational Management, and OMEGA — The International Journal of Management Science. Additionally, his collaborative efforts with a diverse group of international faculty members underlines the global relevance and applicability of his findings.

Ehie’s research group involves scholars from other universities in the U.S., as well as institutions in Ireland, Canada, China, South Korea and Japan. Each year, the group travels to one of its member’s countries to discuss research findings and the framework for future data collection. The group’s research is applicable to businesses across many industries. As managers make investment decisions to expand operations, their published work advocates for a careful consideration of strategic alignment.

“The goal is not just to address short-term profitability but sustained growth over time,” Ehie said. “As managers make decisions for investments to expand their plants, they need to pay attention to the strategic alignment of such decisions to see growth.”

Ehie’s next steps involve submitting his research findings to the International Journal of Production Research and delving into supply chain resilience to deal with the widespread disruptions in supply chain. He hopes his exploration of industry 4.0 and digital technology adoption in developing countries will shed light on the evolving nature of global business.