The variety of supply chain design: from a standard typology to a relational pragmatism

Thierry Houé, Renato Guimaraes


Supply chain management is at the heart of business strategy. The types of goods delivered are extremely varied and the way to deliver the final consumer is more and more complex. Moreover, the relations between players within the supply chain take multiple shapes and have inevitably an impact on its design. This arena of complexity leads companies to use diverse kinds of relational approaches. But the relational view is itself a large field of study and a recent trend in supply chain management. It can be focuses on joint planning, coordination, and process integration between suppliers, customers, and other partners in a supply chain. Its benefits include cost reductions, an increasing reliability and a strong responsiveness to market needs. In addition, managing a sustainable supply chain involves today additional parameters like CO2 emissions reduction, energy consumption decrease, eradication of traffic congestion problems and the need for a better traceability. Besides, recent progresses in inter-companies’ communication technologies along with a growing use of strategic partnering, has resulted in a large variety of alternative information systems approaches for supporting a collaborative supply chain management. Helped by theories and based on empirical data from specific cases companies, this exploratory and conceptual research shows the relative influence of various specific environments on the coordination of logistics flows, with a focus on relationships between different players. This work analyzes diverse types of supply chains and gives a framework confronted with some examples showing how different players create new models of logistics organization in particular situations.


collaboration, inter-firm coordination, organizational structure, supply chain design.

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