The role that power plays in collaborative buyer–supplier exchanges or partnerships is explored in this study. The paper argues that research into business-to-business relationships, although rich, largely marginalises the impact that power differentials have on the formation and long-term success of partnerships. Read More
To address this, five cases are presented, drawn from the UK food industry, that show how power dynamics shape partnerships. In addition, the research contends that partnering is more likely to succeed when there are equal power resources, or inter- dependence, between collaborating parties and this leads us to a more robust definition of partnerships.
By Anne Touboulic, Daniel Chicksand, Helen Walker
This study adopts a power perspective to investigate sustainable supply chain relationships and specifically uses resource-dependence theory (RDT) to critically analyze buyer–supplier–supplier relationships. Empirical evidence is provided, extending the RDT model in this context.Read More
The concept of power relationships is explored through a qualitative study of a multinational company and agricultural growers in the UK food industry that work together to implement sustainable practices. We look at multiple triadic relationships involving a large buyer and its small suppliers to investigate how relative power affects the implementation of sustainable supply-management practices.
The study highlights that power as dependence is relevant to understanding compliance in sustainable supply chains and to identifying appropriate relationship-management strategies to build more sustainable supply chains. We show the influences of power on how players manage their relationships and how it affects organizational responses to the implementation of sustainability initiatives. Power notably influences the sharing of sustainability-related risks and value between supply chain partners.
From a managerial perspective, the study contributes to developing a better understanding of how power can become an effective way to achieve sustainability goals. This article offers insights into the way in which a large organization works with small and medium size enterprises to implement sustainable practices and shows how power management—that is, the way in which power is used—can support or hinder effective cooperation around sustainability in the supply chain.
By Daniel Nordigarden, Jakob Rehme, Staffan Brege, Daniel Chicksand and Helen Walker
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate an underexplored aspect of outsourcing involving a mixed strategy in which parallel production is continued in-house at the same time as outsourcing occurs.Read More
Design/methodology/approach – The study applied a multiple case study approach and drew on qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews with wood product manufacturing companies. Findings – The paper posits that there should be a variety of mixed strategies between the two governance forms of “make” or “buy.” In order to address how companies should consider the extent to which they outsource, the analysis was structured around two ends of a continuum: in-house dominance or outsourcing dominance.
With an in-house-dominant strategy, outsourcing complements an organization’s own production to optimize capacity utilization and outsource less cost-efficient production, or is used as a tool to learn how to outsource. With an outsourcing-dominant strategy, in-house production helps maintain complementary competencies and avoids lock-in risk.
Research limitations/implications – This paper takes initial steps toward an exploration of different mixed strategies. Additional research is required to understand the costs of different mixed strategies compared with insourcing and outsourcing, and to study parallel production from a supplier viewpoint.
Practical implications – This paper suggests that managers should think twice before rushing to a “me too” outsourcing strategy in which in-house capacities are completely closed. It is important to take a dynamic view of outsourcing that maintains a mixed strategy as an option, particularly in situations that involve an underdeveloped supplier market and/or as a way to develop resources over the long term.
Originality/value – The concept of combining both “make” and “buy” is not new. However, little if any research has focussed explicitly on exploring the variety of different types of mixed strategies that exist on the continuum between insourcing and outsourcing.
By Daniel Chicksand, Jakob Rehme, Daniel Nordigarden and Tong Yang
This paper examines whether a power and leverage perspective, successfully applied to analyse extended buyer-supplier relationships in a western context, can be used to analyse business relationships in China. A single embedded case study is presented in this paper and a power and leverage approach is used to analyse business relationships. Read More
The power and leverage perspective is applicable for investigating buyer-supplier relationships in a Chinese cultural context. However, in this context using power as coercion is an extremely counterproductive relationship management strategy, which can draw both buyers and suppliers in to a “no-win” or negative sum situation. The findings are based upon a single case, which makes drawing generalisable conclusions more difficult. In addition, although every effort was made to limit the subjectivity of the power and relationship analysis, researcher interpretation of the data was required.
In the Chinese business context, it may not be advisable to manage any relationships in an arms-length manner. Chinese business networks are centred on less explicit or formal power relationships and therefore companies that have learnt the rules of the game of exchange in the west need to modify their approach in China. This work extends the understanding of buyer-supplier relationships and provides additional empirical evidence validating a power and leverage perspective. In addition, the paper provides the first assessment of whether this approach can be used in a non-western context without significant modification.
By Daniel Nordigarden, Jakob Rehme and Daniel Chicksand
This article investigates uncertainties in global sourcing and outsourcing. The empirical research design is a multiple-case study that captures the uncertainties that companies face when sourcing low-cost countries (LCC) and when outsourcing to supplier markets that are in close proximity, but are non-developed. Read More
This article finds that, regardless of whether companies source to LCC or outsource to nearby suppliers, they face the problem of suppliers not having experience with the operations they run.Under such circumstances, operational uncertainties come into focus, particularly in the absence of a well-functioning supplier market.
For practitioners, it is important to consider that a company must mitigate or manage uncertainties when it does not have a given supplier partner. The present study has found that mixed strategies, in which parallel production is continued in-house whilst also outsourcing, are a particularly effective way of managing multiples of uncertainties.
By Daniel Chicksand, Glyn Watson, Helen Walker, Zoe Radnor, Robert Johnston
Purpose – This paper attempts to seek answers to four questions. Two of these questions have been borrowed (but adapted) from the work of Defee et al.: RQ1. To what extent is theory used in purchasing and supply chain management (P&SCM) research? RQ2. What are the prevalent theories to be found in P&SCM research? Following on from these questions an additional question is posed: RQ3. Are theory-based papers more highly cited than papers with no theoretical foundation? Finally, drawing on the work of Harland et al., the authors have added a fourth question: RQ4. To what extent does P&SCM meet the tests of coherence, breadth and depth, and quality necessary to make it a scientific discipline? Read More
Design/methodology/approach – A systematic literature review was conducted in accordance with the model outlined by Tranfield et al. for three journals within the field of “purchasing and supply chain management”. In total 1,113 articles were reviewed. In addition a citation analysis was completed covering 806 articles in total.
Findings – The headline features from the results suggest that nearly a decade-and-a-half on from its development, the field still lacks coherence. There is the absence of theory in much of the work and although theory-based articles achieved on average a higher number of citations than non- theoretical papers, there is no obvious contender as an emergent paradigm for the discipline. Furthermore, it is evident that P&SCM does not meet Fabian’s test necessary to make it a scientific discipline and is still some way from being a normal science.
Research limitations/implications – This study would have benefited from the analysis of further journals, however the analysis of 1,113 articles from three leading journals in the field of P&SCM was deemed sufficient in scope. In addition, a further significant line of enquiry to follow is the rigour vs relevance debate.
Practical implications – This article is of interest to both an academic and practitioner audience as it highlights the use theories in P&SCM. Furthermore, this article raises a number of important questions. Should research in this area draw more heavily on theory and if so which theories are appropriate? Social implications – The broader social implications relate to the discussion of how a scientific discipline develops and builds on the work of Fabian and Amundson.
Originality/value – The data set for this study is significant and builds on a number of previous literature reviews. This review is both greater in scope than previous reviews and is broader in its subject focus. In addition, the citation analysis (not previously conducted in any of the reviews) and statistical test highlights that theory-based articles are more highly cited than non-theoretically based papers. This could indicate that researchers are attempting to build on one another’s work.