Despite years of research and application, integrated supply chains remain dynamic, multifaceted, and often misunderstood entities. However, in many environments the potential for process improvement remains. This paper categorizes four historical phases of supply chain development and classifies distinct supply chain strategies that are appropriate for each environment. These historical phases of the emergence of the supply chain are then equated to those of processes, facilities, businesses, and industries. A successful supply chain integration effort is then posited to depend on long‐, mid‐, and short‐term strategies and tactics that balance the differentiation of serial supply chain activities and the integrative effort applied. These relationships offer academics and practitioners a contingency perspective of supply chains and a model to define and anticipate supply chain situations as well as mechanisms to develop appropriate responses.
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