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Supply chain – marketing integration: How do European SMEs go to China via the New Silk Road

Ilan Alon (Universitetet i Agder, Kristiansand, Norway)
Shan Chen (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy)
Marco Mandolfo (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 11 July 2018

Issue publication date: 20 March 2019




The purpose of this paper is to discuss China’s New Silk Road initiative as an opportunity for European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to export to Chinese market. It offers research propositions on redefining the business process of European SMEs and Chinese importers in light of the initiative.


SMEs’ export barriers, particularly in SCM and marketing, are identified through literature review. Then they are discussed in accordance with the measures that New Silk Road proposed.


Logistic infrastructure development under the New Silk Road significantly lowers the supply chain barrier. Marketing remains a challenge for European SMEs to export to China. This paper argues that the European SMEs and the Chinese importers should create closer collaboration, expand their relationship beyond SCM, and integrate their marketing efforts for mutual benefits.

Research limitations/implications

Several future research areas are proposed in this paper. The authors invite researchers and practitioners to deepen the discussion with empirical evidence.

Practical implications

The New Silk Road has already become a high stake project for many countries involved. Many measures are yet to be defined and the stakeholders, including industries and businesses, should have an influence on their definition. This paper provides the authors’ viewpoints on how businesses should act in this initiative.


Despite being an important topic of the world’s economy in the recent years, the New Silk Road initiative has rarely been studied in management research, possibly due to lack of evidence. As its development significantly sped up since 2017, it is high time that the research community starts to contribute to the knowledge building in this project. This paper is among the firsts to call for and to propose avenues for future research efforts.



Alon, I., Chen, S. and Mandolfo, M. (2019), "Supply chain – marketing integration: How do European SMEs go to China via the New Silk Road", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 368-378.



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