Bard MBA

Operations I

Spring 2013
3 Credits

The key learning objectives for the course are understanding:
  • How to think from a systems perspective
  • That a sustainable business is an organism in an ecology of commerce, impacted by individuals, culture, businesses and natural environment
  • Key concepts for operations decision-making
  • Resource productivity and cost control, and ecological design as a foundation for cost reduction
  • How abstract financial controls can stifle living systems operations
  • How statistical analyses inform operations decisions
  • Current sustainable supply chain trends and tools including traceability, lifecycle analysis, responsible sourcing, total cost of ownership, etc
  • The impact of stakeholders on supply chain issues including traceability and transparency

Student Outcomes:
The class is designed to help students understand traditional operations / supply chain management and its weaknesses, and current strategies in greening operations and supply chains and the tools to enable them. Ecological design is stressed as a key sustainability strategy for promoting continuous cost reduction.

  • Sterman, J.D., Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking & Modeling for a Complex World, Irwin-McGraw Hill, 2000.
  • Knod, Edward M. and Richard Schonberger, Operations Management, McGraw Hill, 2001.
  • Schendler, Auden, Getting Green Done, Public Affairs, 2009.
  • Additional readings will regularly be assigned from a number of other books, academic and journal publications
  • We will also include some key articles and chapters from texts such as:
    • Arnold, J.R. Tony, and Stephen N. Chapman, Introduction to Materials Management. 5th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2004.
    • Coyle, John J., Edward J. Bardi and C. John Langley Jr.,  The Management of Business Logistics. A Supply Chain Perspective, 7th Edition. South-Western, 2003.
    • Esty, Dan and P.J. Simmons, The Green to Gold Business Playbook, Wiley, 2011.
    • Hawken, Paul, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism, Little Brown, 1999
    • Von Weizsäcker, Ernst, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, Factor Four: Doubling Wealth - Halving Resource Use. Earthscan Publications, 1997.
The course will be a combination of lectures, case studies, group discussions, and student projects. Active participation in class discussions will be essential. Grading will be determined by participation in in-class exercises, case analysis, group presentations, completion of homework, and exams.

Course Outline
The Bard MBA curriculum is modular, with each module topic corresponding to a residency. The outline below provides the Operations 1 set of topics for each of the semester’s modules, with each set of topics corresponding to three to four weeks of conventional instruction.



Systems Thinking

Business as a living system. We will introduce the concept of systems thinking and its approach to problem solving. We compare it to our current operation’s models to highlight gaps and inefficiencies.

The basics of operations. We provide a foundational review of the value chain, capacity planning, forecasting demand, process design, inventory management (JIT, MRP, total quality management,) and more. We consider how statistical analysis supports planning and control.

Firm Costs and Finance

Resources and costs. This section will focus on cost control, reviewing concepts of resource productivity. We will explore ecological design and radical resource efficiency as key strategic elements for sustainable business. One focus will be energy: what are the advantages of energy efficiency and renewable technologies?

System Dynamics


Measurement and statistics. We will focus on statistical analysis for operations such as process control. We review basics such as sampling, the relationship of probability to statistics, bi-variate significance testing. We will explore new areas of measurement in sustainability including traceability and total cost of ownership.

Global Regulation and Structures

Trends in supply chain management. The focus will be on current trends in supply chain strategy including reverse logistics, responsible sourcing, outsourcing, design for environment, closed loop manufacturing and more. We will include trends in manufacturing and environmental law (such as REACH and WEEE) and the potential for new regulation. 

Distance and Ethics

Tools for sustainable operations. We look here at new frameworks and tools in “greening” the supply chain including green sigma, lifecycle analysis, LEED, etc. We include a statistics segment on multiple regression.