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An initial classification of supply networks

Richard Lamming (University of Bath, UK)
Thomas Johnsen (University of Bath, UK)
Jurong Zheng (University of Bath, UK)
Christine Harland (University of Bath, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



The articulation of supply networks, as an extension of supply chains, seeks to accommodate and explain the commercial complexity associated with the creation and delivery of goods and services from the source of raw materials to their destination in end‐customer markets. In place of the simplistic, linear and unidirectional model sometimes presented for supply chains, the supply network concept describes lateral links, reverse loops, two‐way exchanges and so on, encompassing the upstream and downstream activity, with a focal firm as the point of reference. A review of classifications of supply networks reveals that none of the existing approaches appears adequate for managers facing the practical problems of creating and operating them on a day‐to‐day basis. This research identifies differing emphases that may be required for managing within supply networks, according to the nature of the products for which they are created. Taking an established categorisation of supply chains as its starting point, the research first develops the conceptual basis, using strategy literature, and then tests the resultant initial model in 16 case studies. Finally, a new categorisation for supply networks is presented, using the type of product as a differentiator.



Lamming, R., Johnsen, T., Zheng, J. and Harland, C. (2000), "An initial classification of supply networks", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 20 No. 6, pp. 675-691.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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