Taylor, A. and Webster, M. (2006), "Editorial", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 26 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijopm.2006.02426aaa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
As we launch volume 26 of IJOPM, we have paused to reflect on the past, present and future of the journal. The final issue of volume 25 was a fitting tribute to the first quarter century of publication with contributions from all editors past and present, and from the authors of selected influential papers from the journal's history. Volume 26 begins the next 25 years and with it, we look forward to a busy and exciting future. Whilst this is largely indeterminate, we have confidence in the vigour, enthusiasm and capabilities of the international operations management community for which we intend to remain a focus. A successful future will be built on these qualities and relies on the contributions of all of us, both as authors and as referees.
Volume 26 will see high quality contributions from members of the international OM community, and it is planned to host a special issue on “Supply chain management: theory and practice – the emergence of an academic discipline?”, guest edited by Paul Cousins from Manchester Business School. This will contain a mixture of papers examining the theoretical development of the supply chain management (SCM) discipline and addressing the development of SCM in practice. 2006 will also see the 13th International Euroma conference held in Glasgow, UK, hosted by the University of Strathclyde, and the 66th annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. IJOPM has strong links with both of these prestigious events and we encourage your active participation.
As is common in contemporary OM, the supply chain features highly in the papers in this issue. van der Vaart and van Donk consider a pertinent issue for supply chain practitioners in asking what characteristics of their business might be an important influence on their supply chain strategy. In particular, they seek to determine the extent to which an organisation should develop buyer-focus in its operations by dedicating resources to individual buyers in an attempt to optimise service to them. The concepts have parallels with the notion of asset specificity and the extent to which particular resources are made specific to individual customers. van der Vaart and van Donk have conducted empirical research within the Dutch Association of Subcontracting Industries and collected a range of qualitative and quantitative data through interviews and questionnaires. They find that a buyer-focused operations strategy is chosen to fulfil buyers' requirements in relation to flexibility but rarely in order to meet cost and speed criteria. Their work underlines the view that, in OM, a “one size fits all” approach is generally inappropriate. In this case, managers need to consider the business characteristics of individual supply chain relationships in order to determine the extent to which they should adopt a buyer focus in their operations.
A further perspective on the supply chain is provided by Sheu et al. who consider downstream collaboration between suppliers and retailers. Specifically, the focus of their study is on the factors that influence collaboration and performance within these relationships. Through case study research with five pairs of suppliers and retailers in Taiwan, the authors have developed a model that represents the relationships between various supply chain constructs, both social and technical, and collaboration. Technical factors include inventory systems, information sharing channels and IT capabilities; social factors include trust, interdependence and financial commitment between partners, and management commitment within organisations. Suppliers and retailers are encouraged to take a more holistic view of the management of supply networks by considering the social and technical factors simultaneously, and by understanding their links to the development of successful business relationships.
Also related to the supply chain, but with an internal focus, Wallin et al. investigate available inventory management approaches for purchased items. They develop a decision framework to guide firms in their choice of an appropriate approach for a given purchased item and particular context, in order to optimise inventory management financial performance. The framework incorporates decision variables such as customer requirements, bargaining power over suppliers and the nature of the supply line. It results in four possible inventory management approaches – speculation, postponement, consignment and reverse consignment. In the latter two instances, the authors argue that their work extends prior theoretical research on this topic, thus identifying both a practitioner and an academic contribution from the research.
Moving away from supply management, the final papers in this issue reflect two enduring themes within OM research – strategy and quality. Acur and Englyst present and evaluate an assessment tool for strategy formulation processes within firms, which was developed conceptually before being tested through interviews and case studies with managers. They argue the need for the tool on the basis of the increasing competitive challenges firms face, related to innovation, dynamic response and knowledge sharing. They note the three phases of strategy formulation, i.e. thinking, planning and then embedding, and suggest that different approaches to strategy assessment are relevant in all phases but with different weightings. Possibilities include goal-centred, comparative or improvement approaches. The tool is intended to enable practitioners to evaluate the potential outcome and performance of their chosen strategy, whichever of the approaches it is based upon.
Finally, Soltani et al. consider the links between TQM and personnel performance appraisal in quality-driven organisations. Specifically, they have used evidence from a survey of UK organisations to investigate the extent to which firms have tended to adjust their appraisal systems as part of the implementation of TQM. The findings suggest a lack of satisfaction with TQM that prevents the complete elimination of performance appraisal systems. However, agreement was found among respondents on the criteria that are considered vital to the development of a quality-driven appraisal system. These relate to helping employees to improve performance, promoting customer focus, inclusively involving all employees in the modification of appraisal systems and developing a culture whereby performance evaluation is seen as part of a quality improvement effort. These findings create food for thought for academic endeavour in the areas of quality and performance appraisal, and for practitioners in the implementation of organisation-wide quality systems. Papers such as this, which have lessons for both theory and practice, meet the core aims of the journal and are always welcomed.
We congratulate all the authors of the papers in this issue.
As a final but essential part of this editorial, we would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of the journal's Editorial Advisory Board members in providing advice and on-going editorial support. As we move into volume 26, we have revised the constitution of the EAB to reflect new areas of OM research and new centres of expertise. We would like to thank those of our existing EAB colleagues who are continuing to provide their support to the journal, and to welcome our new EAB members. We look forward to a fruitful and lively working relationship with the revised Board.
Andrew Taylor and Margaret Webster