Supply Chain Management Process Definition

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Supply chain management (SCM) can be defined as the systematic, tactical coordination of the traditional business purposes and the way around this business functions within a particular company and across business within a supply chain for the purpose of advancing the long-term performance of the individual company and the supply chain altogether. A supply chain is an array of three or more units (individuals or corporations) directly involved in the upstream and downstream of services, products, finances, and information from a source to a customer (Giunipero et al. 66-69).

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In other words, SCM activities should include integration behaviors on the part of a firm which would consist of a company’s customer and supplier base. Also, businesses that are involved in the supply chain should share rewards and risks plus information. They should also cooperate on activities performed within the chain. Active participation in the building and maintenance of long-term participation within the chain is as a result of an efficient management of a supply chain.

SCM is gaining popularity

The 1990’s researchers on SCM concentrated on how to reduce the costs involved in the buyer-supplier transactions. Companies then changed their attention and standpoint to a more relationship- oriented method to SCM. In the present, firms are concentrating on value in the delivery network and the creation of strong relationships between other companies that act as suppliers and the customers. Globalization has also helped firms to get a global reach of suppliers and customers.

Therefore, there is a worldwide outlook in the design and production of goods and services. This has enabled SCM to gain increased importance with today’s large multinational corporations. An efficient SCM strategy can assist an organization with an established, and sustainable competitive advantage in as much as a product or service is important to the firm. The increasing importance of SCM has provoked researchers to venture into the field. Scholars use various methods to answer research questions.


The authors of this study used three levels of acquiring data and analyzing the content.

  1. The first stage involved data collection, whereby various pieces of literature were gathered to explore the various research works in SCM.
  2. The researchers opted for articles that had been published in reputable journals in the field of SCM, which included the “Journal of Operations Management” among others.

From these results, a second data reduction process was conducted. Here, all the publications that focused wholly on singular fields like logistics or marketing were removed from the list of articles to be analyzed. The rationale for excluding publications that dwelled on one function of SCM only was the fact that SCM is a combination of different business operations and fields.

During the second stage, a content analysis exercise was conducted to code and cluster the selected articles into 13 groups. Here, the researchers’ aim was to identify analytical deficiencies and the patterns in the SCM field according to the available literature. The importance of this exercise was to come up with a conclusion regarding the available SCM research and determine the possible future areas of study in the same field. Each topic category was illustrated and then dispensed correctly.

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Looking at SCM literature retrospectively

There were specific topics that were dominant in the present literature regarding supply chain history that spans a decade as reviewed in the research article. The dominant topics are mention in this section of the article review. The analysis reveals an increasing focus on SCM, especially in the field of academics as witnessed by a 31% increase in the publications made on SCM in a period of 5 years, i.e. 2002-2006. Notably, research on SCM has continued to grow, making SCM a relevant field of study even in the future.

Researchers in the field of SCM are expected to collaborate with researchers in the fields of information technology and e-commerce to advance research in supply chain and the role of information technology as a pointer to the future of supply chain management. The collaboration also points to the possibility of merging the three fields, IT, e-commerce, and SCM, to come up with a unitary framework that is more robust and efficient (Giunipero et al., 2008).

SCM strategy continued to demonstrate popularity in the years between 2002 and 2006 where seventy topics from this category were published. There is a growing trend of users being involved in the design of the products that they prefer, which is a good and interesting trend in the field of supply chain. There is a need for an integrated approach to new product development that engages the customer, as well as the manufacturers’ suppliers. The integration is motivated by earlier deliberations on the need to integrate firms and departments in the firms to realize the shared goals of the supply chain, which include satisfying the customer. The increasing role of clients in the design of products has been a force to reckon in the supply chain network as it has affected the supply chains in all ways.

Currently, there is plenty of literature on information exchange due to concentration on the role of IT in the supply chain in the recent past. This is proven by an increase in time-based concerns. For example, supplier managed inventory, lean techniques and the growth in IT-related research. Research on e-commerce peaked in the year 2004 and then dwindled in the following two years. Given how fast IT progresses, these categories will increase in the coming years regarding their worth to the managers as well as the SCM researchers. Information technology facilitates the continuous flow of information, which is a critical ingredient in a comprehensive supply chain.

Future researchers are likely to explore the areas that have not been studied extensively in the past. For example, there was a minimal discussion on global supply chain between 1997 and 2005. Only seven research papers were published in 2006. This vicinity should continue to see increased activity given the growing importance of universal concerns. There is an average of one article in a year from research done in the vicinity of Social responsibility and environment which emerges to have become an area of expertise.

An In-depth Review of the Three SCM Publication Categories

A comprehensive analysis has been given in this section on the main three subject classifications in SCM research among the journals examined. An in-depth look at the way the topic of SCM has been explored by researchers since 1997 to 2006 has been offered. The leading three categories represent approximately 58 percent of all the articles reviewed.

SCM Strategy

SCM strategy is a major topic of focus in the field of supply chain management. Some researchers have pointed to the rising need to incorporate supply chain strategy into the overall firm strategy to exploit profitability. In this case, recently there has been witnessed an increasing number of enterprises across diverse industries which have taken up integrated premeditated methods to buying and SCM.

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From this change on the part of supply chain, anticipation in the literature has been noted by affiliates as twenty-three percent of the editorials included in the literature analysis were classified to be dealing with the supply chain strategy. The investigation indicated that there are several strategic concerns researched in the supply chain literature, which includes the development of an overall supply chain strategy, strategic alliances, strategic performance measures, and even supply chain forecasting.

SCM Frameworks

SCM frameworks have grown tremendously as a component of the supply chain. As noted, SCM has in some form or another existed for several decades. The real value of SCM research has been recognized recently due to its relative newness both regarding supply chain literature and its newly found importance in business. This is the reason there is a high number of SCM frameworks, trends, and challenges papers published between 2001 and 2006. Most research works in this category concentrate on creating frameworks that can help in strengthening supply chains.

Supplier Alliances/ Relationships

The transaction cost analysis framework has many a time been applied to weigh against diverse governance constitution. TCA conceives that consumers are a focus to opportunistic trader behavior, which results in firm governance mean being applied to control impotent relationships where are high for each party. If the-the mechanisms are not available in some cases, such as low-investment situations that are rated as low-risk, relationships between the buyers and the suppliers can be severed without causing a huge impact. This could be used to elaborate the less importance that was traditionally attached to the principles of trust and buyer-supplier bond as defined in the transaction cost model.

Categorization of Research Methods

Empirical vs. Non-Empirical

Through the use of analysis, studies performed by researchers are non-empirical during the early stages of development of core structures and topics categorizations. The non-empirical research is a critical ingredient in coming up with leads on the direction that future studies should take. At the same time, the non-empirical studies can help in refining an impending or ongoing study because they are conducted at the start of a research process. On the other hand, empirical research emanates from theory and uses factual and methodical procedures of reaching specific conclusions.


The only possible drawback of this study is that the intense analysis ends after 2006, thereby making it impossible to look at the trends in SCM in the wake of financial depression and increasing globalization and use of technology in the supply chain.

Future Research

There are high chances for growth and upgrading within the SCM literature, for example, the academic literature has numerous studies focusing on one link in the supply chain. Historical shortcomings in the SCM literature included:

  • Small sample sizes
  • One tier investigations – a majority of articles reviewed looked at the relationship between the primary supplier and the manufacturer.
  • Limited methodological analysis- some articles limited their methodology to correlation analysis where multiple regressions would have provided a clearer analysis.
  • Most of the studies did not examine an extended period i.e. they were not longitudinal research studies. Therefore, researchers were not able to come up with fully informed conclusions.
  • There is a need to examine SCM from a global perspective given the extent of globalization and its effect on supply chain management. Unfortunately, most of the literature was either local or regional.

Work Cited

Giunipero, Larry C., Robert E. Hooker, Sacha Joseph-Matthews, Tom E. Yoon, and Susan Brudvig. “A Decade of SCM Literature: Past, Present, and Future Implications.” Journal of Supply Chain Management 44.4 (2008): 66-86. Print.

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