Dr Alison Ashby

Dr Alison Ashby

Lecturer in Operations Management

Plymouth Business School (Faculty of Business)


Associate Dean International


I have had a varied, interesting and challenging career working in the clothing and textiles industry in roles including Commercial Manager to Marks and Spencer and Business Development Manager for the UK's largest corporate clothing manufacturer. This has given me extensive experience and expertise in the field of global operations and supply chains.

In terms of academic qualifications I have the following:

PhD, Plymouth University

MBA, University of Nottingham
BA (Hons) Textile Design, Loughborough University

Professional membership

I am a member of the Textile Institute and participate in its Sustainability Special Interest Group

Teaching interests

Through my industry experience, particularly when working with Marks and Spencer to introduce Fairtrade and organic cotton into their products, I developed a strong interest in how sustainability principles and goals could be achieved in practice. I saw first hand some of the key challenges, issues and successes in the clothing industry and this has significantly informed my research and teaching interests.

As my discipline is Operations Management I actively incorporate sustainability within my teaching, especially as it is a growing issue in this field. This extends to a specific teaching interest in how sustainability is addressed and managed within global supply chains and what strategies can be implemented to achieve sustainable supply chains. 

The social dimension of sustainability and also my personal experience of ethical behavior within the clothing industry has promoted further interests in the related fields of Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics, and how these are addressed both within large organisations and SMEs.

Because of my extensive industry experience my teaching always aims to translate the theory into practice to make it relevant and meaningful to business students. Guest industry speakers and the use of real life cases and projects are used to bring teaching material 'to life' and I have a keen interest in both problem based and work based learning to enhance this experience further.

Research interests

I have a strong research interest in how organisations manage their supply chains/operations to achieve a balance between financial, environmental and social sustainability. This extends to a specific interest in Closed Loop Supply Chains.

These interests build on previous research into outsourcing strategies within the textile and clothing sector.

Other research

Member of the Institute for Sustainability Solutions Research (ISSR) and the Centre for Research in Sustainable Leadership, Governance and Policy (SLGP).

Research Publications
Ashby, Leat and Hudson Smith (2013) 'Making Connections: a review of supply chain management and sustainability literature', Supply Chain Management: an International Journal

Ashby, Hudson Smith and Shand (2013) 'From Principle to Practice: Embedding Sustainability in Clothing Supply Chain Strategies' in Gardetti and Torres, Sustainability in Fashion and Textiles, Sheffield: Greenleaf

Conference Papers
“Sustainable Supply Chain Management - Towards an Holistic Understanding of the Triple Bottom Line?”
18th EUROMA conference, July 2011, Cambridge

“Interpreting and Implementing Sustainability in Clothing Supply Chains”
International Conference on Remanufacturing, July 2011, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

“Definition into Action: Implementing Environmental Sustainability in Global Supply Chains”
8th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability in Vancouver, January 2012

“Closing the Loop: A Case Study of Environmental Sustainability in Clothing Supply Chains”
88th Textile Institute World Conference in Malaysia, May 2012

“Tipping the Balance: Achieving the Triple Bottom Line in Global Supply Chains”
4th World Conference for Production and Operations Management conference in Amsterdam, July 2012

Poster presentation at the Sustainable Supply Chain Management Workshop held at Cardiff Business School on 26th June, 2012

“Closing the Loop: A Case Study of Sustainability in Clothing Supply Chains” POMS Conference in Denver, May 2013