To empirically investigate the problems encountered in trying to integrate supply chains in the UK construction industry and to set these problems in the context of the extensive literature on supply chain management and partnering.
A brief review of current supply chain issues in the construction industry is provided. Three case studies of leading construction clients were carried out and these included public and private organisations from different sectors of the economy, public transport, information and communications technology and vehicle manufacturing. A large number of interviews were conducted with the various clients, their main contractors and key subcontractors and suppliers.
The findings reveal that the large number of supply chain partners and the significant level of fragmentation limit the levels of integration that are achievable. The interplay of environmental and procurement related factors renders the realisation of truly integrated supply chains very problematic and difficult to achieve. Nevertheless the paper identifies some key principles that do need to be followed if the elusive goal of integration is to be eventually realised.
While the present cases were chosen to be representative, they may not necessarily reflect the experiences of all clients and contractors in the construction industry.
This paper adds another dimension to the extensive body of knowledge that already exists on supply chain integration. In particular, it focuses on construction, a large and important sector of the economy but one that does not receive as much research interest as the manufacturing and distribution sectors.
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