Research Interests

Interdisciplinary Study in the Areas of Supply Chain Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Management Accounting Systems, Computer Information Systems, and Operations Management; Business Application of Software Intelligent Agents; Impact of Information Technology on Business Strategies and Operations; Supply Chain Management,; and GeoInformatics.


Dr, Lea is one of few researchers who have unique interdisciplinary academic training and research background in productions and operations management, computer information systems, and management accounting. Dr. Lea earned a Master of Professional Accountancy with concentration in managerial accounting and a Ph.D. in Industrial Management with concentration in productions and operations management and in management information systems. Her unique education background qualifies her in conducting interdisciplinary research and teaching.

Supply Chain Management

Given the importance of the supply, the monitoring and measurement of its performance is becoming increasingly important to enable enterprises to compete successfully and ultimately win in the digital economy. The need for a comprehensive, flexible and adoptable framework for evaluating the performance of a supply chain and its entities has long been felt. Dr. Lea's current research interests is to develop a framework to effectively measure the performances of various processes and participants within a supply chain based on a common scale and benchmarked against world-class standards.

Interdisciplinary Study in Areas of Enterprise Resource Planning

In recent years there have been significant advances in management accounting systems, manufacturing planning and control systems, and computer information technology. However, few researchers have examined these elements together in an integrated fashion as they are practiced in enterprise systems used in industry. A lack of integration among different business functions often impairs visibility across the supply chain. A poor visibility, in turn, leads to information distortion and subsequent decision error. To obviate such information distortion, a growing number of firms have adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) that aims to integrate various business functions and manage information systems throughout the company.

While the major focus of ERP is integration, research in operations management and management accounting has been distinctly separate and has not addressed the integration issue. With Dr. Lea's unique academic training and research background in the areas of computer information systems, management accounting, and operations management, she has dedicated her research effort to interdisciplinary research projects to address the integration issue and to provide additional insights to improve business performance.

One of her research focus areas is to investigate factors across different disciplinary areas on manufacturing Performance in an ERP integrated manufacturing environment. Factors she has been investigated include:

  • Management Accounting systems (Activity based costing, traditional costing, and throughput accounting)

  • Product Mix Algorithms (linear programming, TOC heuristic)

  • Planning Horizon

  • Industry Types (process-oriented industry, assembly-oriented industry, and hybrid industries)

  • Manufacturing control systems (Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP), Just-in-Time (JIT), and Theory of Constraints (TOC))

  • ERP Architecture and Implementation Issues

    Another research focus area involves the ERP architecture and implementation issues. An important characteristic of an ERP system is its ability to enhance communication among different business functions using a common, unique database that every subsystem can share. Through the common database that is updated as the changes take place, the real-time data are made available for timely decisions. Although many organizations have successfully adopted commercial ERP systems, yet many more organizations spent fortunes only to find that business performance has not improved to the satisfactory levels. To overcome problems observed in commercial ERP systems, a prototype Multi-Agent based ERP (MAERP) system is proposed to take advantage of existing information systems among various functional areas to achieve the system integration of commercially available ERP systems, while avoiding numerous problems encountered during a typical ERP implementation. In addition to a proposed MAERP architecture, following projects are currently under development to extend the proposed MAERP system:

  • Seek cooperation with industry partners to develop a working prototype of MAERP system and to demonstrate that more practical and relevant problems can be addressed successfully

  • Propose a systematic approach based on the Theory of Constraints to implement the proposed MAERP system

  • Extend the applications of the proposed MAERP system to the supply chain environment where agents can be used to communicate and evaluate the performance of the supply chain members based on new global performance measures such as throughput dollar days and Inventory Dollar Days

  • Impact of Information Technology on Business Strategies and Operations

    Dr. Lea's third research focus area is to evaluate impact of information technology on business strategies and operations. Several projects are currently undertaken to investigate how Information Technology (IT) is used in non-profit organizations and public school systems to improve its operational efficiency and to gain competitive advantages. Specifically, the impact of IT is evaluated through

  • corporate, business, and operational strategies

  • information flows

  • organization structure

  • IT architecture and control systems

  • Labor characteristics and performance evaluation systems

  • GeoInformatics

    Two other faculty at UMR, Drs. Francisca E. Oboh-Ikuenobe (Geological Sciences & Engineering) and Wen-Bin (Vincent) Yu (Information Science and Technology/Computer Science), and I are appying (1) text mining and data mining techniques, (2) software agent architecture, and (3) business intelligence to improve (1) retrival process, (2) taxonomic process, and (3) ontology development of dinoflagellate cysts. Some of our current research interests include:

    • Provide easy and user friendly search features that are not limited by a user’s understanding of the domain (e.g., fossil) through free-form text search enhanced by text/data mining technology.
    • Offer intelligent search features to improve a user’s incomplete and poorly expressed version of the need and associated requirements by utilizing text/data mining techniques, artificial intelligence, and software agent theories; these will intelligently interact, interpret, and translate the user’s search intention into suggestions and recommendations.
    • Minimize a developer’s interpretation of a user’s understanding of the domain and expression of the requirements, or a developer’s knowledge of the domain by utilizing text mining enhanced search, user profiling, and data mining analysis.
    • Develop a web-based application that is independent of the development environment and the implementation platform by utilizing advanced technologies in distributed computing, database, semantic web, and web programming.
    Our most recent research presentation is at the Geoinformatic 2006 conference (abstract, poster, and slides)

    This web site is designed and maintained by Bih-Ru Lea.