Laird Burns, Ph.D.

Laird Burns, Ph.D.
Management Science


Assistant Professor

Office: 343 BAB
Phone: 256.824.6577

Biographical Information

Laird Burns is an Assistant Professor of Management Science in the Management, Marketing and Information Systems Department at UAHuntsville, where he joined UAH in 2009 as the first group hire between the College of Business and College of Engineering.

His research interests focus on various aspect of supply chain design, and include related work in systems engineering, risk and resilience in supply networks, dynamics of integrated supply networks, supply chain management, agent based modeling, production/operations management, and complex systems. Dr. Burns’ research includes funded research through the U.S. Army Material Command ESCALE project, where UAHuntsville ESCALE researchers work with AMCOM, AMRDEC, TACOM, TARDEC, CECOM and LOGSA. Dr. Burns is also involved the Center for System Studies on a NASA funded research project for space launch systems affordability.

His executive management and consulting experience spans more than 80 companies in over 30 industries in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America. Dr. Burns’ background includes experience in growth, mature market, start-up and turnaround companies. Dr. Burns has been co-owner and Chief Executive Officer of a design engineering and manufacturing firm, Chief Operating Officer of a start-up division in the material handling industry, and Chief Operating Officer of an automotive equipment supplier in a turnaround situation. He has over 15 years of consulting experience, specializing in the areas of strategy, supply chain management, business process reengineering, operations, engineering, new product development, total quality management, executive coaching and executive education.


  • Ph.D., Operations and Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University
  • Graduate studies in complex systems, University of Michigan Center for the Study of Complex Systems
  • MBA, emphasis in finance and economics, University of Michigan, with distinction
  • BBA, majors in Management and Personnel and Labor Relations, Grand Valley State University

Refereed Journal Publications

  • Allen Wilhite, Laird Burns, Ravi Patnayakuni, Fan Tseng, “Military supply chains and closed-loop weapon systems”, accepted for publication at Special Issue on Supply Chain Design for International Journal of Production Research.
  • Steven A. Melnyk, Thomas J. Page, Sarah Jinhui Wu, and Laird Burns, “Would you mind completing this survey: Assessing the state of survey research in supply chain management”, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management (2012, forthcoming).
  • Steven Melnyk, Rhonda Lummus, Robert Vokurka, Laird Burns, and Joe Sandor, "Mapping the Future of Supply Chain Management: A Delphi Study", International Journal of Production Research (2010).
  • George Zsidisin, Stephan Wagner, Steven Melnyk, Gary Ragatz and Laird Burns, “Supply Risk Perceptions and Practices: An Exploratory Comparison of German and U.S. Supply Management Professionals”, International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management (2008).
  • Steven Melnyk, Roger Calantone, Joan Luft, Douglas Stewart, George Zsidisin, John Hanson, and Laird Burns, “An Empirical Investigation of the Metrics Alignment Process”, International Journal of Performance Measurement and Metrics (2005).   

Additional Publications

  • Rhonda Lummus, Steven Melnyk, Robert Vokurka, Laird Burns, and Joe Sandor, “Getting Ready for Tomorrow's Supply Chain”, Supply Chain Management Review (Sept 2007).

Research Papers Under Review

  • Laird Burns and Steven Melnyk, “Can we design out supply chain risk?  Evaluating the impact of visibility and information sharing on the ability of supply chains to deal with disruptions”, under second review at Special Issue on Supply Chain Design for International Journal of Production Research.

Working Papers

  • Laird Burns, Fan Tseng, David Berkowitz, “Supply Chains as Systems of Systems: A Theoretical Framework for a Next-Generation End to End Performance Measurement with an Initial Test in a Military Supply Chain”.
  • Laird Burns, “Resistance to Change in Supply Networks: An Exploratory Study”.

Refereed Conference Publications

  • Laird Burns, George Zsidisin, and Lisa Ellram, “The Moderating Role of Purchasing Integration in Managing Cost”, Decision Sciences Institute 2004 Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.
  • Steven Melnyk, John Hanson, Roger Calantone, Joan Luft, Douglas Stewart, George Zsidisin, and Laird Burns, “Case Study Research on Metrics Deployment and Alignment”, Decision Sciences Institute 2004 Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.

Current Research Studies

  • Michael Griffin, Paul Collopy, Jeffrey Little, Paul Componation, and Laird Burns, “Space Launch Systems Affordability Model”. Developing a next generation systems engineering model to evaluate and predict cost and schedule of large scale space launch systems.
  • Wes Colley and Laird Burns, “Next Generation Demand Smoothing in Smart Electrical Grids”, in Partnership with Carina Technologies. Developed an advanced analytical approach to evaluating pilot system performance of a smart grid technology that successfully shifted peak demand a major power distributor. Developed economic analysis for cost justification and ROI for distributors and power generators. Based on these successful results, the research team is currently seeking funding for large scale pilot study of 100,000 homes and to develop optimal allocation of shifted power demand to lowest cost sources of electricity.
  • David Berkowitz et al., “Developing End to End Supply Chain Metrics for the US Army Supply Chain”. This multi-year funded study focuses on developing supply chain metrics in the areas of supply chain performance, quality and reliability, and efficiency.

Prior Research Studies

  • Steven Melnyk, Joe Sandor, and Laird Burns, in association with (by phases) Rhonda Lummus and Robert Vokurka (Phase I, Michigan State University, 2006), Corey Billington and Tom Vollman (Phase II, IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2007), Ed Davis, Robert Spekman, and Tim Laseter (Phase III, University of Virginia, 2007), and Edy Wong and John Doyle (Phase IV, University of Alberta, 2008), “SCM2010 and Beyond: Mapping the Future of the Strategic Supply Chain”. This was a multi-phase, multi-national study to identify key future trends in supply chain management, using Delphi studies, survey research, and interactive workshops with executives and academic experts.
  • Steven Melnyk, Alex Rodriguez, Laird Burns, and Dawn Russell, “The Resilient Organization”, funded by the IBM Foundation. This quasi-experimental study investigates resilience and robustness within complex supply chains through the use of a computational model and empirical data, and includes investigation of time-delayed disruptions and improved supply chain measures.
  • Laird Burns and Steven Melnyk. “Modeling Total Cost of Ownership in International Supply Chains”. Phase I: Empirical case study identifying hidden costs of multiple product lines of a long term company employing strategic outsourcing. Phase II - computational modeling to establish profit and performance impacts of hidden costs, supply chain properties, and resilience.
  • George Zsidisin, Gary Ragatz, Steven Melnyk, and Laird Burns, “An Investigation of Supply Continuity and Risk Management”, funded by IBM.  This study is a survey based empirical investigation of supply risk awareness, sources of supply risk, supply risk management, and performance implications.
  • “Linking Customers, Strategy, and Activities: An Empirical Investigation of the Metrics Alignment Process”, sponsored by KPMG and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Business Measurement Research Program, co-author with Steven Melnyk, Roger Calantone, Joan Luft, George Zsidisin, and Douglas Stewart. This case-based empirical study investigates strategy development and metrics deployment processes in two manufacturing companies in different industries.