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Managing change within IBM's complex supply chain

Stephen McLaughlin (School of Business and Management, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Robert A. Paton (School of Business and Management, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Douglas K. Macbeth (School of Business and Management, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 September 2006




The purpose of this research is to report on research to date concerning the creation of a hybrid model for managing performance and decision making with elements of an IBM supply chain.


As part of a wider research programme this paper utilises survey, focus group and case analysis techniques to examine the supply chain interactions.


A cross‐functional process‐orientated team was assembled to look at the end‐to‐end process logic, skills alignment, effective codified knowledge systems, and the prioritisation of change to overcome inhibitors of change originating from functional/IT‐focused processes/solutions.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this paper have, as yet, not been validated beyond the process performance targets set by IBM. Validation across and within industry boundaries, based on survey and case analysis, is about to commence.

Practical implications

Too often “management” play too active a role in the operational aspects of team‐based solution methodologies – and can potentially reinforce the functional inhibitors of change. This paper suggests that management sets the scene and prioritises process outcomes – allowing non‐managerial professionals the scope to reach optimal outcomes.


This research draws upon a number of inter‐disciplinary fields in an effort to better understand how knowledge is created, managed and exploited within complex solutions.



McLaughlin, S., Paton, R.A. and Macbeth, D.K. (2006), "Managing change within IBM's complex supply chain", Management Decision, Vol. 44 No. 8, pp. 1002-1019.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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