International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 25 April 2008



Taylor, A. and Taylor, M. (2008), "Editorial", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 28 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijopm.2008.02428eaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Volume 28, Issue 5.

We are pleased that the relationship between the International Journal of Operations & Production Management (IJOPM) and the European Operations Management Association (EurOMA) continues to strengthen. The collaboration can bring only benefits to OM scholars as we work with EurOMA to promote and publish the outputs of high-quality research in our field from across the globe.

Two of the papers in this issue result from this collaboration and specifically from the 13th Annual International Conference of EurOMA, held in Glasgow, UK in 2006. It is important that we acknowledge here the contribution of Professor Douglas MacBeth who undertook much of the editorial work for these two papers. We are grateful for his management of the process of review and revision by which these papers were made ready for publication. The theme of the conference was “Moving up the Value Chain” and it is fitting that these papers align closely with this, each reflecting the importance of research in the supply chain.

Firstly, Srai and Gregory consider the impact of the configuration of a value chain on its capability and performance. To investigate this, they developed a series of tools by which supply chain configuration, including both firm level constructs and those at the network level, could be defined and mapped. The tools were subsequently tested and refined through a series of case studies that reflected different sectors and supply chain models. As a result of the process by which this research was undertaken, the tools provide the foundations for a robust method by which supply chain configuration can be linked to capability and performance. They offer a novel approach for the mapping and evaluation of supply network configurations which represents a platform on which future work in this area can build.

Next, Koulikoff-Souviron and Harrison use a theory from outside what could be regarded as the traditional OM domain in the analysis of the role of human resource (HR) practices in the evolution of interdependent supply relationships. They adopt the theoretical lens of institutional theory to analyse their empirical data, which was gathered using a case study methodology to explore a complex interdependent supply chain relationship between two firms. The firms had developed a “closed loop” supply relationship by which each acted as a supplier to the other at different levels in the value chain. Using the institutional theory framework, Koulikoff-Souviron and Harrison, were able to show that HR practices can act as carriers of regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements in interdependent supply relationships through both formal and informal mechanisms. They were further able to use institutional theory to explain the evolution of supply relationships over time and they argue that the use of this framework incorporates a predictive angle by which partners to this type of relationship can have influence over its development.

The theoretical basis of the paper by Koulikoff-Souviron and Harrison provides a foretaste for that of Cannon, Reyes, Frazier and Prater who present an intriguing and thought-provoking paper on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in the supply chain. Their paper, unusually for IJOPM, is purely conceptual, and analyses the implications associated with RFID adoption in the supply chain through the lenses of three theories that they argue, are also outside the traditional OM domain. Thus, using the bases of resource dependency theory, transaction cost economics and the resource-based view, they consider the benefits and risks of adopting RFID. The risks that they consider are associated, in large part, with uncertainty, relating particularly to the technology itself and to the effects of it on inter-organisational relationships. Intuitively the adoption of RFID to collect and manage data within the supply chain would point to reduced uncertainty. However, Cannon et al. also argue for an opposing scenario whereby the adoption of RFID ironically may in fact increase uncertainty, albeit at different levels and in different manifestations. The presentation and discussion of these alternative scenarios results in a number of propositions that should encourage scholars in our field to undertake empirical investigation.

Finally, in this issue, Martin-Peña and Diaz-Garrido, present a taxonomy of manufacturing strategies used by Spanish companies. They argue that the improving performance of Spanish companies in recent years has led to an increase in the global importance of the Spanish economy, and that this necessitates a review of the strategies adopted by companies manufacturing in Spain. Their comprehensive multi-sector survey of manufacturing companies led to the identification of two principal strategies; namely manufacturers pursuing excellence and manufacturers focused on quality and delivery. They also examined how companies pursuing these strategies compared in relation to structural decisions (e.g. capacity, location, technology and degree of vertical integration) and infrastructural decisions (e.g. quality management, production planning and control, and manufacturing organisation). They found that companies in the first group place more importance on structural and infrastructural decisions than do those in the second group. Further, using indicators such as increase in sales, increase in profit, return on assets, and productivity, they examined whether there were differences in performance of the companies in the two groups. No significant differences were found. An interesting result of this study that differentiates it from much previous work on strategy is that only two distinct groups were found there was no indication of a group that focused on cost minimisation. The authors discuss possible reasons for this.

Andrew Taylor and Margaret Taylor

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