Complexity and Adaptivity of Buyer-Supplier Networks

Buyer-Supply networks are composed of multiple numbers of firms from a variety of interrelated industries. Such networks are subject to shifting strategies and objectives within a dynamic environment, guided by (micro factors) internal factors of the individual firms and also by the (macro factors) industry dynamics of the same. Today, supply chain management  involves adapting to changes in a complicated global network of organizations. As a result, buyer-supplier network decisions and the optimization of the same have become the center stage and concerns the scrutiny of the top level managers.

Two emergent challenges that managers frequently have to address when making these decisions are the structural intricacies of their interconnected supply chains and the need to learn and adapt their organization in a constantly changing environment to ensure its long-term survival. Complex interconnections between multiple suppliers, manufacturers, assemblers, distributors, and retailers are the norm for industrial supply networks. When decision making in these networks is based on non-complex assumptions problems are often hidden, leaving plenty of room for understanding and improving the underlying processes.

Along with managing the complexity inherent in the inter-connectivity of their supply networks, organizations have also started to learn the benefits of being adaptive in their behavior. Because organizations exhibit adaptivity and can exist in a complex environment with myriad relationships and interactions, it is a natural step to identify a supply network as a CAS. Research indicates that that supply networks should be recognized as CAS by providing a detailed mapping of each property of CAS to a supply network.

  1. A CAS consists of entities that interact with other entities and with the environment by following a set of simple decision rules (i.e., schema). These entities may evolve over time as entities learn from their interactions. In contrast to relational modeling, which tries to use one set of variables to explain variation in another set of variables, CAS examines how changes in an individual entity’s schema lead to different aggregate outcomes.
  2. A CAS is self-organizing. Self-organization is a consequence of interactions between entities. Self-organization is defined as a process in which new structures, patterns, and properties emerge without being externally imposed on the system. Because the behavior in complex systems comes from dynamic interactions among the agents and between the environment and the agents, the changes tend to be nonlinear with respect to the original changes in the system.
  3. A CAS coevolves to the edge of chaos, just like coevolution, positing that a CAS reacts to and creates its environment so that as the environment changes it may cause the agents within it to change, which, in turn, cause other changes to the environment.
  4. A CAS is recursive by nature, and it recombines and evolves over time. Furthermore, from a macroeconomic viewpoint, it can be posited that industry supply networks are interrelated within a national or international context and interact together as a CAS in a larger context.

Supply chain research has gained a lot ever since the conceptualization of buyer-supplier networks was done through CAS. What do you think should be the way ahead?

adapted from pathak et al.,2007
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Information sharing in Buyer Supplier Relationships

A supply chain is essentially a network of inter-connected and interdependent organizations mutually and cooperatively working together to control, manage and improve the flow of materials and information from the suppliers to the end users. The very definition shows how important information sharing plays a huge role in the management of the supply chain, since today proper SCM focuses on how firms can best utilize their suppliers’ processes, technology and capabilities to enhance their own competitive advantage. Continue reading “Information sharing in Buyer Supplier Relationships”

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How to manage a Lean Supply Chain

Today the buzz word in supply chain management is a lean supply chain. Question is, although lean supply chain offers many benefits, it has its own set of management challenges. Lean supply chain management is not only for the manufacturing companies but for any setups which need to streamline processes by eliminating non-value added activities. Continue reading “How to manage a Lean Supply Chain”

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How e-markets affect the supply chain

E-markets have been established in many industries as a sourcing option for buyers. Research  has implied that the e-markets have substitutional effect on the traditional supply chain, yet in many situations, e-markets are used by buyers as a benchmarking tool in negotiations with traditional suppliers.  The late 1990s and early 2000s have seen the rise and fall of many e‑marketplaces. Despite being hyped for their ability to benefit firms through dynamic pricing as well as lower transaction costs, most e‑markets failed, never reaching their expected potential. Continue reading “How e-markets affect the supply chain”

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Risk in Supply Chain Management

Today, many supply chain managers believe that there are multiple risks involved in a supply chain, and yet are often ill-equipped to handle the same. Many of the risk factors develop from a pressure to enhance productivity, minimize waste, remove supply chain duplication, and improve bottom-line. Continue reading “Risk in Supply Chain Management”

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Situation of Outsourcing in the Manufacturing Industries

As a company gets large-scale recognition and popularity, maintaining its image and brand becomes more important than the product it manufactures. So from a product-centric view, companies have shifted their attention to other aspects which include marketing of the product, providing service to the customers and giving the product an image that differentiates it from the rest, not by virtue of its technical specifications but by virtue of customer perception. Hence the rise of outsourcing of manufacturing activities by giants across industries like footwear, iron and steel, durable and non-durable goods, household consumables and several other FMCG products, to small 3rd party manufacturers. Continue reading “Situation of Outsourcing in the Manufacturing Industries”

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