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Supply chain management: a comparison of Scandinavian and American perspectives

Árni Halldórsson (School of Management, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)
Paul D. Larson (Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)
Richard F. Poist (Department of Logistics, Operations & MIS, College of Business, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 14 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to advance understanding of international differences in supply chain management (SCM) perspectives and practices, by comparing perceptions of Scandinavian and American supply chain managers.


The survey focused on the definition of SCM, along with facilitators of and barriers to SCM implementation. A four‐page questionnaire was designed and sent by mail. After follow‐ups, 23 Scandinavians and 104 Americans returned completed questionnaires.


While many similarities were found between Scandinavians and Americans, several differences were also identified. Both groups have adopted broad, multiple function perspectives on SCM; and both groups perceive SCM implementation to be slower and more difficult than expected. Two differences are the Americans' greater concern about incompatible systems and implementation costs as barriers to SCM, compared to the Scandinavians.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on relatively small samples, of limited functional (logistics) and geographic (Scandinavia and America) scope. Future research should expand the functional focus into purchasing, operations, and marketing; and the geographic coverage to other parts of the world.

Practical implications

Internal resistance is more of a barrier than external (customer or supplier) resistance to SCM. Thus, organizations should focus first on internal (functional) integration, and then move onto inter‐organizational integration. However, employees working with customers and suppliers should use these external relationships to inspire closer internal relationships. Further, people are more critical than technology in implementing SCM. Organizations should get the right people in place first, and then think about technology.


There is little empirical research on SCM implementation. Practitioners and researchers should find value in this unique comparative study.



Halldórsson, Á., Larson, P.D. and Poist, R.F. (2008), "Supply chain management: a comparison of Scandinavian and American perspectives", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 126-142.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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