Takata news conference Copyright Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) hold pieces of metal schrapnel from a defective Takata airbag during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol June 2, 2015.

What Type of Product Recall Do You Face?

Knowing the type of recall your company faces can help it better address the problem that developed into a recall, suggests research published last year in the Journal of Supply Chain Management.

In their paper, "Resource Gaps and Resource Orchestration Shortfalls in Supply Chain Management: The Case of Product Recalls," researchers advance the idea that recalls can be categorized as one of four types: precise recall, overkill recall, cascading recall or incomplete recall.

"[The article] really departs from what everybody has really thought about recalls and says recalls are kind of in your control about the resources you have and how well you orchestrate those resources --  which can determine the impact of the recall on consumer well-being, your brand image, financial performance," says Kaitlin Wowak, a professor in the Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, and one of three co-authors, along with David Ketchen Jr., a professor at Auburn University's Harbert College of Business, and Christopher Craighead, a professor in the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University.

The researchers describe a precise recall, for example, as the least harmful of the four types. In this scenario, the firm has a good grasp on the problem with the product, it knows where the bad product is located and it is able to extract the bad product from the supply chain without touching the good product.

At the other extreme is the incomplete recall, in which all of the bad product is not removed from the supply chain. The lapse may be due to a recall that is too narrow in scope, off target or too slow to occur, note the authors.

The overkill recall is much like it sounds. A company recalls everything -- perhaps more than is necessary -- because it does not have a good grasp about which products are impacted and which are not.

The cascading recall unfolds over time. The initial recall may be too narrow, for example, so additional product batches are added at a later date.

Once the organization identifies the type of recall it faces, then it is in a position to act. The published research includes a matrix that maps the product recall types to several resource scenarios.

"It can provide insights into companies about how they can more effectively manage the recall process," Wowak says. "Companies can say, 'If this is the recall we have, we're short on the resources we have, or we have to get better at orchestrating our resources."

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