Supply Chain Integration: Challenges and Solutions

Supply Chain Integration: Challenges and Solutions

Edward Sweeney (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-585-8.ch001
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Abstract

Since its introduction by management consultants in the early 1980s, supply chain management (SCM) has been primarily concerned with the integration of processes and activities both within and between organisations. The concept of supply chain integration (SCI) is based on documented evidence that suggests that much of the waste throughout businesses is a consequence of fragmented supply chain configurations. However, there is also evidence to suggest that the achievement of higher levels of intra- and inter-firm integration presents an array of managerial challenges. The need for innovation in all aspects of SCM is widely recognised. Given the pivotal role of the integration paradigm within SCM, any meaningful innovation in this area must focus heavily on this issue. This chapter outlines some of the challenges by exploring the evolving SCM business context. It goes on to relate SCM theory to the widely cited Porter value chain concept. The core of the chapter provides a detailed description of SCI based on a wide variety of literature. It does so with particular reference to the challenges inherent in implementing an integrated business paradigm with a view to identifying a range of possible innovative solutions. The adoption of more integrated supply chain structures raises questions regarding the nature of both internal and external customer/supplier relationships. The effective management of such relationships is, therefore, given particular focus.
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The Evolving Supply Chain Management Environment

The literature suggests that a number of key issues are changing the supply chain management (SCM) and logistics strategic landscape. Arguably, the three most significant such issues are:

  • 1.

    Internationalisation (or globalisation) of supply chains

  • 2.

    Vertical disintegration

  • 3.

    The changing role of the supply chain as a source of strategic leverage

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