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Customer-differentiated triadic interaction based on decoupling points

Joakim Wikner (School of Engineering, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)
Jenny Bäckstrand (School of Engineering, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)
Eva Johansson (School of Engineering, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)

Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing

ISSN: 2398-5364

Article publication date: 19 June 2017




The integration of supply chains together with the disintegration of individual actors in the supply chain shifts the focus from actors to challenges in the interaction between actors. This paper aims to identify risk strategies for different supplier interactions in triadic configurations to outline supply strategies.


Companies participating in a research project recounted the challenges they faced regarding the integration of customer order-based management and supply from a triad perspective. Six triad configurations were identified, based on the literature, resulting in three risk strategies, which were empirically illustrated in practice by the participating companies.


A key finding is that a triad perspective for a customer-differentiated approach to supplier interaction results in a material classification that highlights the circumstances in which to apply “balance efficiency”, “postpone”, “balance responsiveness” and “speculate” supply strategies.

Research limitations/implications

The research has focused on process drivers and controllability, and the results may require careful interpretation when there is a mix of standardized and customized products because further interaction differentiation may then be required.

Practical implications

The strategies developed herein provide guidelines for differentiated supplier interaction with explicit focus on triads where customer actors directly influence supplier actors. This approach highlights how outsourcing must be carefully executed when supplier actors are involved in delivery to customer orders.


The paper sheds new light on how customer requirements impact supplier interaction in terms of decoupling points related to both delivery strategy and control strategy. The study also presents a novel application of the Kraljic matrix in in terms of risk strategies in different triad configurations.



This research has been performed in collaboration with six companies in the project KOPeration. The project was funded by the Swedish Knowledge Foundation (KKS), Jönköping University, and the participating companies.


Wikner, J., Bäckstrand, J. and Johansson, E. (2017), "Customer-differentiated triadic interaction based on decoupling points", Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 185-205.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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