Fascination with 16th-century Spaniards, pirates leads professor to research on supply chains


State-of-the-art supply chain and logistics best-practices can trace their origins to the Spanish monarchy that established dominance in the Caribbean and South America in the 16th and 17th centuries, according to a new book chapter written by Dr. Robert Lloyd, assistant professor of management at Fort Hays State University.
Lloyd argues that the Spanish supply chain was truly revolutionary because of the distance, scope, and risks – piracy among the biggest – associated with transporting gold and silver from their New World vice-royalties.
“The Romans used well established trade routes into a relatively known world, Marco Polo’s route to Asia was exploratory in nature, and historical military conquests had a clear origin to front lines,” said Lloyd.
But, he said, “The Spaniards were the first to maintain consistent quantities over a sustained period of time (centuries) in an environment where the risks were unknown and extreme.”
Collecting, processing, protecting, and transporting these riches from the Caribbean to Spain was a tremendous undertaking and required the Spaniards to adopt new practices in supply chain management and to employ innovative logistical techniques.
According to Lloyd’s research, the Spanish successfully imported more than 89 million pesos of American origin between 1503 and 1660, all of which required innovations in transportation and supply.
Despite incessant depredations by pirates and political foes, Caribbean hurricanes, exhaustive conditions, and the risks inherent in any mining operation, the Spaniards were unrelenting as they sent fleet after fleet of war galleons to retrieve their precious metals.
“This project is the culmination of a life-long fascination I’ve had with pirates and Spanish imperialism,” said Lloyd. His captivation began while playing video games as a young boy and having to memorize the Caribbean political maps of the Golden Age of pirates, and only grew as he began travelling to the old Spanish forts.
“The first time I walked the ramparts and saw the fortifications that guarded the harbors in Havana, Porto Bello, and Cartagena, I could imagine the salvo of cannon fire that came from common pirates and famous privateers alike,” he said.
This personal fascination led him to investigate how the topic could be researched in his academic discipline of business management. He began construction of a manuscript in fall 2017 in collaboration with Dr. Wayne Aho, a colleague from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee.
His work on Spanish supply chain origins was accepted in the prestigious reference guide “The Palgrave Handbook of Management History,” described as the “the most comprehensive exploration of management history in the market, a definitive source and reference tool for academics, researchers, and graduate students working in the field of management history.”
The book is set to publish in early 2020. The book can be found at http://bit.ly/2vzrFOp.

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