Assessing complexity of supply chains: Evidence from wholesalers

Sander de Leeuw*, Ruud Grotenhuis, Ad R. van Goor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to discuss complexity assessment in supply chains, to describe a methodology for measuring supply chain complexity in distributive trade and to illustrate the measurement of supply chain complexity and mechanisms to cope with supply chain complexity in distributive trade. Design/methodology/approach: The paper discusses literature on measuring supply chain complexity and uses five case studies among wholesale companies to illustrate a methodology to measure supply chain complexity and to discuss strategies to cope with supply chain complexity. Findings: The study confirms the multifaceted nature of supply chain complexity. The paper identifies eight drivers of supply chain complexity and uses these to illustrate the measurement of supply chain complexity in a wholesale environment. The paper identifies six strategies used by wholesalers for coping with supply chain complexity and identifies interrelations between supply chain complexity drivers and these strategies. Research limitations/implications: The research is based on case studies in wholesale companies; future research may include survey research, including other sectors to analyze industry differences but may also focus on other parts of the supply chain. Practical implications: The study provides insights into how to identify and measure complexity in a supply chain and what can be done to manage supply chain complexity. Originality/value: The measurement approach is new to supply chain management and is based on multiple drivers of supply chain complexity. The research is focused on wholesalers, which is a segment that has received limited academic attention in supply chain research to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-980
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Volume33
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Supply chain complexity
  • Supply chain management

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