Coopetition in Supply Chains: A Case Study of a Coopetitive Structure in the Horticulture Industry

Coopetition in Supply Chains: A Case Study of a Coopetitive Structure in the Horticulture Industry

Lincoln C. Wood (Curtin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0246-5.ch005


Supply chain management has been increasingly seen as a strategic tool to improve the competitiveness of companies. Coopetition, the mingling of competitive and cooperative relationships, has been utilised by New Zealand companies in the horticulture industry to help break into and develop new markets. Using a case study various elements of the supply chain are examined from both strategic and operational perspectives for this group of companies and their customers and suppliers. The connections to the customer are shown to be enhanced through careful implementation, as the group of companies act to adjust their entire supply chains to make them increasingly customer-orientated. Significant benefits that are shown to accrue include improved information flow, increased ability to supply, and flexibility to meet customer requirements.
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Literature Review

When understanding the management of the supply chain from the perspective of a group of firms it helps to understand what is being managed and how it is managed. Supply chain management has its roots in logistics management and the terms have come to mean similar things today (Jonsson, 2008). Both logistics and supply chain management have frequently been relegated to tactical level and charged with cost-efficiency in providing adequate customer service (Bovet & Martha, 2000), yet the discipline of supply chain management has increasingly been given significance and recognition at the boardroom level (Boubekri, 2001; Dath, Rajendran, & Narashiman, 2010).

One of the first scholars to recognise the significant implications of the supply chain on the competitive positioning of firms was Fine (1998, 2000), who investigated the dynamic changes in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions of various supply chains and concluded that “the ultimate core competency of an organization is ‘supply chain design,’ which [can be defined] as choosing what capabilities along the value chain to invest in and develop ” (Fine, 2000, p. 213) to enhance success. The design of the supply chain therefore becomes a strategic concern to firms. But what does ‘strategic supply chain management’ mean? Hult, Ketchen, and Arrfelt (2007) assert that “ ‘strategic supply chain management’ – [is] the use of a supply chain not merely as a means to get products where they need to be, but also as a tool to enhance key outcomes” (Hult et al., 2007, p. 1036; emphasis added); a supply chain is for getting goods to where they need to be but may also be of importance to a firm to enable attainment of other, strategic, outcomes. Paraphrasing Hill and Hill (2009, p. 25), the strategic role of supply chain managers will be to support competitive drivers in their company’s market, for which the supply chain team is responsible.

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