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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of supply chain complexity and extend this with literature developed within the project domain. The authors use the lens of ambidexterity (the ability both to exploit and explore) to analyse responses to complexity, since this enables the authors to understand the application of known solutions in conjunction with innovative ones to resolve difficulties. This research also seeks to investigate how managers respond to supply chain complexities that can either be operationally deleterious or strategically beneficial. Design/methodology/approach The authors develop a descriptive framework based on the project management (PM) literature to understand response options to complexity, and then use interviews with supply chain managers in six organisations to examine the utility of this framework in practice. The authors ask the research question “How do managers in supply chains respond to complexities”? Findings The case study data show first that managers faced with structural, socio-political, or emergent supply chain complexities use a wide range of responses. Second, over a third of the instances of complexity coded were actually accommodated, rather than reduced, by the study firms, suggesting that adapting to supply chain complexity in certain instances may be strategically appropriate. Third, the lens of ambidexterity allows a more explicit assessment of whether existing PM solutions can be considered or if novel methods are required to address supply chain complexities. Practical implications The descriptive framework can aid managers in conceptualising and addressing supply chain complexity. Through exploiting current knowledge, managers can lessen the impact of complexity while exploring other innovative approaches to solve new problems and challenges that evolve from complexity growth driven by business strategy. Originality/value This study addresses a gap in the literature through the development of a framework which provides a structure on ways to address supply chain complexity. The authors evaluate an existing project complexity concept and demonstrate that it is both applicable and valuable in non-project, ongoing operations. The authors then extend it using the lens of ambidexterity, and develop a framework that can support practitioners in analysing and addressing both strategically necessary supply complexities, together with unwanted, negative complexities within the organisation and across the supply chain.
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... It may necessitate the development of new components/parts, different supplier bases, increased number, and types of Stock keeping unit (SKUs). It seems to impact SCP if not managed adequately (Turner et al., 2018). Furthermore, ESCC can also have a significant impact on customer demand. ...
... Third, it is noteworthy that ESCC will indirectly impact SCP mediated through USCC, OSCC and DSCC simultaneously (Section 4.5). This finding is distantly coherent with Turner et al. (2018), who suggests multiple simultaneous presences of external and internal complexity dimensions of the SC in project management that can have an impact on overall performance. The model demonstrates the interaction between USCC and OSCC constructs, with USCC positively impacting the OSCC (H2a). ...
Article
Abstract: Purpose: In today's globalized business environment, growing supply chain complexity (SCC) is arguably a major threat to the firm's business continuity with an adverse impact on the firm's competitive advantage and business performance. Researchers, though, investigated the impact of SCC drivers on a firm's operational performance, but the key question "Which supply chain complexity drivers severely impact the supply chain performance (SCP)?" remains largely unanswered from empirical research. The present study decomposes the SCC into four major constituting sub-categories (upstream, operational, downstream, and external) to explore the causal impact of SCC drivers on SCP in direct and mediated manner. Design/methodology/approach: The indicators applied for measuring constructs in the 'Measurement model' are obtained from existing literature to increase the validity and reliability of the model. First, a pilot survey involving 25 SC managers from various manufacturing firms was conducted for indicator refinement and content validation. Second, the large-scale response data was collected through extensive surveys. This research explores the causality by testing the hypothesis applying Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) based on the responses received from 246 firms. Findings: The study investigates the impact of SCC drivers on SCP through direct and mediation effect. The results indicate that upstream and operational SCC drivers play a mediating role in managing SCP. The findings reveal that upstream and operational SCC drivers adversely impact the SCP. Further, the impact of downstream complexity on SCP is moderated through operational complexity drivers. The result explains the theoretical relation among SCC drivers supported by empirical validity. Practical implication: The outcome offers practical relevance to SC managers in SCC and SCP management. Knowing the effect of SCC drivers among themselves and on SCP will facilitate the SC managers in devising the right strategies. Our study provides a framework for prioritizing the resource in addressing the SCC issues among many. Originality/value: The study addresses the apparent gap in the literature by modeling the impact of SCC drivers on SCP, which remained largely unexplored. First, it contributes to developing complex relationships among SCC drivers. Second, the direct and mediated causal effect of the SCC drivers individually and combinedly on SCP are explicated.
... It also allows taking into account non-linear relations between system elements, feedback loops and delays, which are critical for supply chain planning. While insights from the SD methodology and related concepts can generate managerial insights (Turner et al., 2018), an alternative is to develop a conceptual model, which later can inform a simulation model (Zhao et al., 2019). In this study we are focused on the second. ...
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Purpose The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has emerged as an unprecedented health crisis worldwide and heavily disrupted the healthcare supply chain. This study focuses on analysing the different types of disruptions occurring in personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic and on proposing mitigation strategies that are fit to the global scale and many interdependencies that are characteristic for this pandemic. The authors construct a conceptual system dynamics model (SD) based on the literature and adjusted with the use of empirical data (interviews) to capture the complexity of a global supply chain and identify leverage points (mitigation strategies). Design/methodology/approach This research follows a mix-methods approach. First, the authors developed a conceptual framework based on four types of disruptions that usually occur during health emergencies (direct effect, policy, supply chain strategy, and behaviourally induced disruptions). Second, the authors collected and analysed data from interviews with experts in the PPE supply chain. Based on the interviews data, the authors developed a conceptual system dynamics (SD) model that allows to capture the complex and dynamic interplay between the elements of the global supply chain system, by highlighting key feedback loops, delays, and the way the mitigation strategies can impact on them. From this analysis, the authors developed four propositions for supply chain risk management (SCRM) in global health emergencies and four recommendations for the policy and decision makers. Findings The SD model highlights that without a combination of mitigation measures, it is impossible to overcome all disruptions. As such, a co-ordinated effort across the different countries and sectors that experience the disruptions is needed. The SD model also shows that there are important feedback loops, by which initial disruptions create delays and shortages that propagate through the supply chain network. If the co-ordinated mitigation measures are not implemented early at the onset of the pandemic, these disruptions will be persistent, creating potential shortages of PPE and other critical equipment at the onset of a pandemic – when they are most urgently needed. Originality/value This research enriches the understanding of the disruptions of PPE supply chains on the systems level and proposes mitigation strategies based on empirical data and the existing literature.
... Finally, we can cautiously seek some transferability across organizational context to identify effective practices for promoting agility. Recent works suggest that the behaviors of managers can support ambidexterity in practice and overcome the inherent limits to capturing it (Maylor and Turner, 2017;Turner et al., 2016Turner et al., , 2018. Hibbert et al. (2016) additionally identify three learning practices key to promoting transformative change: exploring limitations (either personal or disciplinary); developing connections; and developing shared interpretive horizons. ...
Article
Complexity, paradox, tension, and contradiction are increasingly seen as permeating all aspects of organizational life. Yet despite ongoing advancement, both our understanding of the nature of complexity and how to use this increased appreciation of it in practice are still developing. In this spirit, this article considers organizational agility and how to achieve it. Here, current discussions of organizational agility have failed to sufficiently address the fundamental tensions inherent in learning stemming from conflicting goals and incentives, evident in an ongoing discussion of theory-informed approaches for bringing about organizational agility. In this article, we claim that incorporating a dialectical perspective of learning would provide a means of understanding the successes and failures of practices aimed at bringing about agility. We consider the maligned dialectic, four fallacious ways of thinking that hinder agility, and the extent to which these can be overcome. As evidence, we present a case of Agile implementation in which one of the authors acted as a consultant and involving a large-scale social change. Considering this from a dialectical perspective, we discuss ways that dysfunction in achieving agility might be reduced through disruptive interventions, such as Agile.
... The former relies on a complexity science approach, the latter on the managers' individual perspectives (i.e., a subjective view), knowledge and experience. This is in line with the 'lived experience' approach advocated by Williams (2005) and used by authors such as Maylor, Turner and Murray-Webster (2013), Shenhar and Holzmann (2017) and Turner, Aitken and Bozarth (2018). ...
Article
Navigating complexity remains one of the key pragmatic challenges that call for temporal organizing as a response. Whilst project-based organizing is established as an approach integral to temporal organizing we still know little about the lived experiences of project managers as they enact it through the judgements guiding their action choices. We present findings from a qualitative study investigating the lived experience of 43 project managers from key sectors in countries around the globe. We show how project managers embody and not only enact the dynamics of temporary organizing in the ways they navigate project complexities and form their judgements on an ongoing basis. This process of practising is marked by leaps of faith that can mark new measures of project success beyond the traditional parameters of project completion, namely time and budget. This paper makes a compelling case for a new school of thought in advancing temporal organizing that we will call the ‘Practising School’, which informs our understanding of the dynamics of project-based organizing and offers insights into how practitioners navigate the ongoing project complexities inherent in project-based organizing. We pave the way for advancing a practice-based perspective for studying projectification and extend current conceptualizations of temporal organizing.
... A high level of product variety has caused many strategic and operational complexitiessuch as high overhead cost, global transportation uncertainties, long lead times, customer complaints of quality-related concerns and other issues including environmental and social concerns (Birkie et al., 2017;Turner et al., 2018). Although this company has good expertise in new product development, they have limited knowledge, processes and tools in deleting or discontinuing products. ...
Article
Purpose Market uncertainties require organizations to consistently revisit their product portfolio. Theoretically the link between corporate strategy, supply chain and operations for Product Deletion (PD) decisions is lacking. The purpose of this study is to develop a decision support tool that enables managers to evaluate PD decisions across business, supply chain strategies and customer considerations; rationalizing product portfolio variety while realizing long-term organizational competitiveness. Design/methodology/approach This study applies Quality Function Deployment (QFD) to formalize PD decision-making across multiple functional strategy perspectives. Manufacturing, supply chain, finance and marketing functions are included along with incorporating multiple stakeholder voices from multiple organizational levels—including top-management team members, cross-functional managers and customers. A case study application is conducted using an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) perspective. Findings The interrelationships between business, supply chain strategies and customer requirements are identified, along with tensions and tradeoffs using a series of “houses” or relationship matrices. The methodology provides managers with a decision support tool that can be flexible and applicable to aid sound PD decision-making incorporating multiple stakeholders. Originality/value Product decisions at the decline stage—for example product retirement or deletion—are neglected both in research and in practice. Having a formalized systematic process can make PD outcomes more objective. The proposed QFD approach is one of the early PD decision support tools—products can be deleted for strategic, operational and customer-related reasons, and the hierarchical interrelationships among various reasons need to be carefully managed to ensure sound product portfolio rationalization.
Article
Purpose Grounding on relational view and contingent resource-based views, the authors investigate the conditional indirect effect of Supply Chain Relational Practices (SCRPs) on supply chain performance (SCP) through proactive and reactive supply chain resilience (SCRE) capabilities at different levels of network complexity (NC). Design/methodology/approach The authors adopt an “exploratory sequential mixed methods design” combining the qualitative and quantitative approaches under a positivist paradigm. The qualitative method is primarily used to contextualize and develop better measurements of the factors and variables using content analysis of the field studies. This then informs the quantitative phase which conducts a questionnaire survey among the apparel manufacturing firms in Bangladesh. The authors analyzed the quantitative data using Partial Least Square based Structural Equation Modelling. The authors also used PROCESS integrated regression analysis to test conditional indirect effects. Findings Our research findings indicate that the indirect effect of SCRPs on SCP through proactive and reactive SCRE is positive and significant. It also finds that the conditional indirect effect is high at higher NC. Practical implications The results have immense practical implications as it proposes to enhance relational practices in order to develop SCRE as a contingent resource to mitigate disruptions. This will also help the supply chain (SC) managers to work through smoothly at different levels of supply chain NC and improve SCP. Originality/value Extant literature does not provide a deeper understanding of the impact of SCRPs on SCP, while SCRE and NC influence the link. Therefore, investigation of the conditional direct and indirect effect of SCRPs on SCP through proactive and reactive SCRE at different levels of NC is novel in SC management literature.
Purpose The study investigates how supply base structural complexity influences both supply chain agility and resilience. It employs Normal Accident Theory and Portfolio Theory to disentangle the effects of three structural facets of complexity – numerousness; technical and functional diversity; geographical distribution of suppliers – on the two capabilities simultaneously. Design/methodology/approach The study is grounded in the Italian footwear industry. 31 manufacturing firms with their global supply base have provided a cross-sectional time series database over a 10-year period (310 observations). Findings The results show that supply base numerousness has nonlinear effects on both supply chain agility and resilience. The directions of these effects are opposites. They also show that supply base diversity has an inverted U-shaped effect on supply chain agility while it is insignificant for resilience. Finally, the results show that suppliers' geographical dispersion is detrimental to both capabilities. Originality/value This is the first study that considers the multifaceted effects of supply base complexity on both supply chain agility and resilience. In doing so, it also sheds light on some of the most common trade-offs that firms address when they seek a balance between different strategies, such as increasing agility without damaging supply base resilience and vice versa. Considering the resource constraints firms normally face, by disentangling the dual effects of each complexity facet, this study helps decision-makers to develop scalability and leverage the supply base characteristics in order to survive and prosper in uncertain markets.
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Purpose The purpose of this research is to systematically review the properties of supply chains demonstrating that they are complex systems, and that the management of supply chains is best achieved by steering rather than controlling these systems toward desired outcomes. Design/methodology/approach The research study was designed as both exploratory and explanatory. Data were collected from secondary sources using a comprehensive literature review process. In parallel with data collection, data were analyzed and synthesized. Findings The main finding is the introduction of an inductive framework for steering supply chains from a complex systems perspective by explaining why supply chains have properties of complex systems and how to deal with their complexity while steering them toward desired outcomes. Complexity properties are summarized in four inter-dependent categories: Structural, Dynamic, Behavioral and Decision making, which together enable the assessment of supply chains as complex systems. Furthermore, five mechanisms emerged for dealing with the complexity of supply chains: classification, modeling, measurement, relational analysis and handling. Originality/value Recognizing that supply chains are complex systems allows for a better grasp of the effect of positive feedback on change and transformation, and also interactions leading to dynamic equilibria, nonlinearity and the role of inter-organizational learning, as well as emerging capabilities, and existing trade-offs and paradoxical tensions in decision-making. It recognizes changing dynamics and the co-evolution of supply chain phenomena in different scales and contexts.
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Past studies have often voiced concern that important megaprojects have repeatedly failed due to extensive overruns, misunderstanding of expectations, or both. In this article, we contend that this pattern may not be inevitable. In retrospect, despite painful delays, some megaprojects eventually achieved their longer-term objectives. In this study, rather than asking why megaprojects fail, we asked whether these notable (and rare) accomplishments have anything in common. We found that successful megaprojects are distinguished by three major elements: clear strategic vision, total alignment, and adapting to complexity.
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Purpose – Existing works in the supply chain complexity area have either focused on the overall behavior of multi-firm complex adaptive systems or on listing specific tools and techniques that business units (BUs) can use to manage supply chain complexity but without providing a thorough discussion about when and why they should be deployed. This research aims to address this gap by developing a conceptually sound model, based on the literature, regarding how an individual BU should reduce versus absorb supply chain complexity. Design/methodology/approach – This research synthesizes the supply chain complexity and organizational design literature to present a conceptual model of how a BU should respond to supply chain complexity. The authors illustrate the model through a longitudinal case study analysis of a packaged foods manufacturer. Findings – Regardless of its type or origin, supply chain complexity can arise because of the strategic business requirements of the BU (strategic) or because of suboptimal business practices (dysfunctional complexity). Consistent with the proposed conceptual model, the illustrative case study showed that a firm must first distinguish between strategic and dysfunctional drivers prior to choosing an organizational response. Furthermore, it was found that efforts to address supply chain complexity can reveal other system weaknesses that lie dormant until the system is stressed. Research limitations/implications – The case study provides empirical support for the literature-derived conceptual model. Nevertheless, any findings derived from a single, in-depth case study require further research to produce generalizable results. Practical implications – The conceptual model presented here provides a more granular view of supply chain complexity and how an individual BU should respond, than what can be found in the existing literature. The model recognizes that an individual BU can simultaneously face both strategic and dysfunctional complexity drivers, each requiring a different organizational response. Originality/value – There are no other research works that have synthesized the supply chain complexity and organizational design literature to present a conceptual model of how an individual BU should respond to supply chain complexity. As such, this paper improves the understanding of supply chain complexity effects and provides a basis for future research, as well as guidance for BUs facing complexity challenges.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of complexity and its management from an OM perspective, building on and extending the systematic literature review published in this journal in 2011, and provide a foundation for exploring the interactions between complexities and responses. Design/methodology/approach The paper takes a subjective view of complexity, focusing on the “lived experience” of managers. It takes an updated systematic literature review, and demonstrates the comprehensiveness of a framework to classify complexities of projects. It reports the findings from 43 workshops with over 1,100 managers. Findings First, the complexity framework is effective in aiding understanding. Second, and somewhat unexpectedly, managers were able to identify strategies to reduce the majority of complexities that they faced. Third, the workshops identified a typology of responses to residual complexities. Research limitations/implications The framework has demonstrated its utility, and a gap in understanding emergent complexities is identified. The framework further presents the opportunity to explore the recursive nature of complexity and response. Practical implications This paper provides a framework that is both comprehensive and comprehensible. The authors demonstrate that complexities can be reduced and provide a means to assess responses to residual complexities, including potentially matching managers to projects. Originality/value This work extends the previous systematic review combined with extensive empirical data to generate findings that are having impact in practice, and have the potential to strengthen a relatively neglected area within OM. A research agenda is suggested to support this.
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Unacceptably low IT project success rates continue to be a persistent problem for organisations and the lack of business involvement in IT projects has been suggested as an important contributor to failures. Adopting a Resource Based View, this paper explores the concept of IT competence of business managers and teases out what the relative impact of each of the components of IT competence is on IT project success. Based on a survey of 108 business managers, results yielded surprising insights. In particular, knowledge of applications exerts a strong influence on project success.