Author's School

Olin Business School

Author's Department

Supply Chain, Operations, and Technology


English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Fuqiang F. Zhang

Committee Members

Lingxiu Dong, Xiang Hui, Baojun Jiang, Fasheng Xu


The main purpose of this dissertation is to study supply chain issues under the challenge of technology innovation and pandemic; and to identify the implications for individuals and businesses.

In Chapter 1, ``Consumer Privacy in Online Retail Supply Chains", we study the implications of newly adopted privacy policies such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for online retail supply chains consisting of a retailer and a supplier. Exploitation of consumer data allows online retailers to enhance services provided to consumers, but at the risk of causing unintended privacy issues. There has been debate about whether to devise regulation policies to restrict data collection and usage by online retailers. We find that, although the GDPR is designed to protect consumer privacy, it may actually hurt consumer surplus while benefiting the retailer. In fact, the GDPR may even lead to a triple-lose situation for the retailer, supplier, and consumers. We further explore two coordinated supply chain arrangements, i.e., agency selling and vertical integration. We show that the GDPR always enhances the social welfare under these two arrangements, but it may still decrease the consumer surplus. Our results have significant implications for consumers, supply chain firms, and policymakers, and contribute to the literature evaluating the impact of privacy regulation on technology innovation and adoption.

In Chapter 2, ``The Value of Smart Contract in Trade Finance", we investigate how smart contract adoption could facilitate trade finance activities and create value for supply chain firms. As the emerging blockchain technology could potentially reshape the trade financing landscape, understanding the impact of smart contract adoption and its interaction with trade finance activities is practically relevant and of great importance. We develop a two-stage game-theoretic model and adopt supply chain finance theory to characterize the strategic interactions between supply chain firms in the presence of both operational risk (demand uncertainty) and financial risks (credit and liquidity risks). We find that the value of smart contract depends critically on the trade finance structures, including both pre-shipment and post-shipment financing schemes. Under the baseline trade finance model (with purchase order financing as pre-shipment financing and factoring as post-shipment financing), smart contract alleviates the supplier's overpricing behavior caused by commitment frictions and helps restore the supply chain efficiency. When buyer direct financing serves as an alternative pre-shipment financing, smart contract might discourage the retailer from offering buyer direct financing, which significantly hurts the supplier and thus reduces the supply chain profit. When invoice trading serves as the alternative post-shipment financing, the supplier always chooses invoice trading over factoring due to its trading flexibility which, in turn, makes the commitment frictions ubiquitous and unresolvable (namely, commitment trap). As a result, invoice trading could unexpectedly lead to a lower supplier's profit. Luckily, such an adoption dilemma can be resolved by smart contract adoption in conjunction with factoring. Our findings provide guidelines for and insights into when smart contract should be adopted and its interactions with different trade finance schemes. In particular, smart contract adoption does not always benefit the supply chain.

In Chapter 3, ``Impact of COVID-19 on Online Share of Expenditure and the Mediating Role of Digital Infrastructure: Evidence from a Two-year Consumer Panel", we document changes in consumption behaviors after the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Our unique dataset from the largest digital payment platform in China allows us to track online and offline consumption for a given consumer over two years. The identification of the COVID impact on consumption is based on two strategies: a year-on-year comparison and a comparison among cities with different numbers of COVID cases. We find that the pandemic disproportionately reduced online and offline consumption, causing a higher online share of consumption during and one year into the pandemic. This result suggests that the pandemic may have a long-lasting impact on consumption structure. Our second main finding is that consumers who live in cities with better digital infrastructure experienced a smaller reduction in online and offline consumption during the pandemic. This result suggests that digital infrastructure leads to consumption resilience against macroeconomic shocks, and that the impact of digital infrastructure on consumption goes beyond the digital economy. We discuss the policy and managerial implications of these findings.