The Competitive Advantages of a Holistic Approach to Supply Chain Management

The Competitive Advantages of a Holistic Approach to Supply Chain Management

Kenneth Saban (Duquesne University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jsita.2012070102


Supply chain performance is often equated with having the latest collaborative technology in place. However, current studies suggest that supply chain performance also requires human collaboration. To change conventional thinking, this paper proposes a holistic approach to supply chain management (SCM), clarifies the forces that facilitate human collaboration, and highlights the economics advantages of employing a holistic supply chain management approach.
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Supply Chain Challenges

There are three challenges with developing and managing a collaborative supply chain network. Foremost is the trap of becoming more enamored with technology than its implementation (Mills, Schmitz, & Frivol 2004). As one executive was quoted as saying “too often, (CIOs) hear about a new technology and think ‘we have to have one of those’ without stopping to think about whether or not this is true” (Gain, 2005). What has contributed to this oversight is the heavy emphasis in the marketplace that collaborative technology is all that one needs for supply chain collaboration.

The second challenge is not to overlook the strategic role that employees and front-line managers play in implementing any advanced supply chain strategy (National Research Council, 2000; Handfield & Nichols, 2002; Russell & Hoag, 2004; Maku & Collins, 2005). There are specific costs with underestimating social issues. Ernst and Whinney (1987) found that companies that did not place a strong emphasis on training performed lower than companies who made employee development a priority. Michigan State University (Bowersox, Droge, Rogers, & Wardlow, 1989), Pennsylvania State University (Novack, Langly, & Rinehart, 1995), and Fawcett and Magnan (2005) also found that human resource development plays a major role in supply chain performance. After surveying 358 executives from leading manufacturers and service providers, Gowen and Tallon (2003) concluded that proper human resource management enhances the “value added” of supply chains by providing more effective resources in terms of better trained employees and enthusiastic employees and managers, which can equate to a more efficient and effective supply chain and one that is hard to emulate.

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