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Rob Handfield

Executive Director of Supply Chain Resource Cooperative and Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management

Editor emeritus, Journal of Operations Management

Graduate Faculty

Department of Business Management

Supply Chain Management

2806-A Hillsborough St. Building 217

View CV 


Rob Handfield is the Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management at North Carolina State University, and Executive Director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative. Handfield is Editor-in-Chief of the online Logistics journal, Consulting Editor of the Journal of Operations Management, one of the leading supply chain management journals in the field, and the author of several books on supply chain management, including “FLOW: How the Best Supply Chains Thrive” (2022), “Supply Chain Immunity” (2023), “The LIVING Supply Chain: The Evolving Imperative of Operating in Real Time” (2017), and “Introduction to Supply Chain Management” (1999, 25,000 copies sold, and translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Korean).

His current research involves work on understanding how to restructure the public health response system, based on his pro bono work with the Joint Acquisition Task Force during the COVID pandemic in March – October, 2020. He has been supported by multiple grants exceeding $10M, including the United States Department of Agriculture to study market forecasts for bio-based products ($200,000), a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to create an Ethical Apparel Index ($1.2M over three years), a $500K grant to study the use of serious gaming in supply chain resilience wargames, and has received multiple NSF grants for studies in supply chain management.


Bachelor of Science Mathematics The University of British Columbia 1985

PhD Operations Management University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1990

Area(s) of Expertise

Supply Chain Management, COVID-19 Supply Chain, Vaccine Supply Chain, Global Sourcing


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Date: 12/15/12 - 12/14/18
Amount: $3,971,568.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

The long-term goal of this project is to ?enhance food security by increasing productivity and profitability for producers and improving intermediate elements of the system to increase access and affordability for consumers,? as described in the RFP. This integrated research, extension, and academic project co-led by NC State University and NC A&T State University through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) will work with a large grocery chain (Lowes Foods) and a military base (Fort Bragg), and within the existing large-scale wholesale distribution chain through which the vast majority of food travels, to determine the potential for conventional systems to join with emerging food hubs to address localized food system bottlenecks in a way that values sustainability and meets growing demand. We address short-term (e.g., GAPs certification, supply chain development) and long-term (e.g., military contract specifications) constraints, while also testing demand-side interventions to increase purchases of local foods across the socioeconomic spectrum. Research focuses on baseline assessments, economics and management, marketing, food access, and institutional change. Extension integration includes needs assessment, training and support, applied action-based research, consumer education, and resource development. Academic integration includes the development of a new course in the School of Management at NC State focusing on local food systems value chains, and developing value-chain career-ladder opportunities for apprentices, interns and service-learning students. This project will lead to nationally replicable models that have the potential to significantly increase consumer access to local foods.

Date: 01/31/21 - 12/31/23
Amount: $1,256,791.00
Funding Agencies: Templeton World Charity Foundation

A mixed methods research design is proposed to provide the fundamental knowledge for building an effective Social Responsibility Index (SRI) mechanism. To create the SRI, we propose three major research components: first, we propose employing desk and field research to establish a refined set of social responsibility criteria based on secondary data and second, we will conduct a series of Delphi surveys among experts representing the primary stakeholder groups including factory owners, auditors, brand compliance officers and additional entities. Finally, inputs from this research will generate the SRI framework. Concurrently, two consumer behavior studies will be deployed: a series of consumer experiments using an online crowdsourcing service to gain initial insights into consumers’ perceptions for CSR; followed by a series of focused lab experiments. Findings from the online and lab experiments will inform the design of the SRI.

Date: 07/01/20 - 8/15/21
Amount: $594,758.00
Funding Agencies: National Institute of Standards & Technology

This project will help optimize COVID19 test kit distribution and allocation planning, to produce optimal outcomes for rapid testing of the population. We will conduct supply base research as input into a 50-state distribution model to inform decision-makers in how to connect suppliers of materials to testing centers, and develop a second model for testing of patients who may have contracted the virus. This model would be used to inform test manufacturers, distributors, public health officials, hospitals and commercial laboratories with testing capabilities, as well as state and federal government decision-makers.

Date: 08/01/22 - 12/31/23
Amount: $250,000.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

The Institute of Treasportation Research and Education at NC State University will work with the NC State Ports Authority who is seeking to expand their capacity and ability to position themselves for growth.

Date: 11/15/18 - 11/14/23
Amount: $238,500.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

Led by the Department of Forest Biomaterials in collaboration with the Departments of Forestry, Business Management and Science Education at NC State University; this proposal will develop an educational program for a new generation of technology-to-commercialization researchers who will graduate with the expertise to perform risk analysis and develop risk management strategies across the value chain of biomass supply, biobased materials, and biofuels manufacturing to meet current and future national needs that will ultimately advance the nascent bioeconomy of the United States. Previous studies indicate that a limited number of companies in the forest product industry perform risk analysis for their decision-making process. We do believe that this small adoption rate is due to lack of awareness of the importance of risk analysis and risk management for effective/efficient R&D planning and investment and lack of expertise (people trained) to perform risk analysis across the whole supply chain. This proposal supports TESA in “Agricultural Management and Economics”, in the discipline of Environmental Sciences/Management. Three Ph.D. students will be trained to analyze and propose mitigation strategies for current and future risks inherent to the bioeconomy. To considerably amplify the effect of this proposal, prospective fellows and project directors will deliver educational workshops in risk analysis and management targeting the biobased community across the U.S., while the proposal is expected to be completed in three years, project director expects to keep the program as a permanent teaching/research program. This proposed program supports USDA-NIFA Goal “Catalyze exemplary and relevant research, education and extension programs”.

Date: 01/07/19 - 3/23/19
Amount: $202,000.00
Funding Agencies: Department for International Development (DFID)

Given the scope and duration of this grant, we propose a rapid deployment methodology that will take advantage of existing resources available to the team, as well as our unique set of stakeholder relationships within the textile and apparel industries in Bangladesh and India. We envision this proposal as a scope of work serving as an exploratory planning grant, producing foundational insights that will serve as the basis for a broader study. That is, the outcome of this research will establish an initial set of hypotheses grounded in preliminary findings, that will be used as the basis for the development of a broader research design, using multiple data methodologies in the next phase of RFP’s identified by GFEMS. Research conducted through this initial funding will result in a technical report highlighting these hypotheses and develop a detailed set of frameworks to guide direct future research efforts based on our initial work within the respective RFP timeframes.

Date: 04/19/21 - 6/30/22
Amount: $190,185.00
Funding Agencies: Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)

The performer (NCSU) will assist the prime (Kairos Research LLC) on a research project aimed at developing hybrid-human machine algorithms for predicting hidden vulnerabilities in complex supply chain networks related to the ongoing US COVID-19 pandemic response (as well as future pandemics and other disruptive events).

Date: 09/15/22 - 9/30/23
Amount: $170,249.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Defense (DOD)

This proposal includes scope to study the use of gamified modalities of curriculum for education and training in acquisition methods and simulation tools for the defense workforce.

Date: 08/01/19 - 7/31/22
Amount: $149,398.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Nonwovens Institute

The Asia Pacific region is forecasted to experience the major growth in production and demand for wipes (and thus wipe substrate) over the next 10-15 years. Even though production facilities in the region might be designed to meet local demand, it is possible that an overflow of substrate materials will affect the current trade flow and thus the industry in North America (NA). Similar market dynamics have been documented in the textile and pulp and paper industry. Therefore, it is important to analyze not only how the nonwovens supply chain will evolve but also how to minimize impacts for manufacturing facilities in NA as the wipe substrate overflows occur over the next decade. An adaptable supply chain and impact assessment model applicable to different types of nonwoven materials, using wipes’ substrate market segment as a case study, will enable the industry to design strategic scenarios to embrace market changes and build competitive advantages. To achieve this goal, we have assembled a team with expertise in supply chain, conversion economics, data analytics, and materials science. Milestones include identification of major drivers for growth and megatrends for NA and selected countries in Asia, development of a supply chain network for raw materials, forecasting of new production volumes and cost, and estimate their effect on the trade balance of wipes’ substrate. Additionally, the model will enable to perform combined data analysis (including psychographics) to recognize trends as well as identify substrates with the highest and lowest risk for competition in NA.

Date: 01/01/16 - 12/31/16
Amount: $102,120.00
Funding Agencies: Laboratory for Analytic Sciences

DO6 Supply Chain Analytical Framework.

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