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Article
Publication date: 15 March 2013

Edward J.S. Hearnshaw and Mark M.J. Wilson

The purpose of this paper is to advance supply chain network theory by applying theoretical and empirical developments in complex network literature to the context of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advance supply chain network theory by applying theoretical and empirical developments in complex network literature to the context of supply chains as complex adaptive systems. The authors synthesize these advancements to gain an understanding of the network properties underlying efficient supply chains. To develop a suitable theory of supply chain networks, the authors look to mirror the properties of complex network models with real‐world supply chains.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors review complex network literature drawn from multiple disciplines in top scientific journals. From this interdisciplinary review a series of propositions are developed around supply chain complexity and adaptive phenomena.

Findings

This paper proposes that the structure of efficient supply chains follows a “scale‐free” network. This proposal emerges from arguments that the key properties of efficient supply chains are a short characteristic path length, a high clustering coefficient and a power law connectivity distribution.

Research limitations/implications

The authors' discussion centres on applying advances found in recent complex network literature. Hence, the need is noted to empirically validate the series of propositions developed in this paper in a supply chain context.

Practical implications

If efficient supply chains resemble a scale‐free network, then managers can derive a number of implications. For example, supply chain resilience is derived by the presence of hub firms. To reduce the vulnerability of supply chains to cascading failures, it is recognized that managers could build in redundancy, undertake a multi‐sourcing strategy or intermediation between hub firms.

Originality/value

This paper advances supply chain network theory. It offers a novel understanding of supply chains as complex adaptive systems and, in particular, that efficient and resilient supply chain systems resemble a scale‐free network. In addition, it provides a series of propositions that allow modelling and empirical research to proceed.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2018

Larissa Statsenko, Alex Gorod and Vernon Ireland

This paper aims to propose an empirically grounded governance framework based on complex adaptive systems (CAS) principles to facilitate formation of well-connected…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to propose an empirically grounded governance framework based on complex adaptive systems (CAS) principles to facilitate formation of well-connected regional supply chains that foster economic development, adaptability and resilience of mining regions.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is an exploratory case study of the South Australian (SA) mining industry that includes 38 semi-structured interviews with the key stakeholders and structural analysis of the regional supply network (RSN).

Findings

Findings demonstrate the applicability of the CAS framework as a structured approach to the governance of the mining industry regional supply chains. In particular, the findings exemplify the relationship between RSN governance, its structure and interconnectivity and their combined impact on the adaptability and resilience of mining regions.

Research limitations/implications

The data set analysed in the current study is static. Longitudinal data would permit a deeper insight into the evolution of the RSN structure and connectivity. The validity of the proposed framework could be further strengthened by being applied to other industrial domains and geographical contexts.

Practical/implications

The proposed framework offers a novel insight for regional policy-makers striving to create an environment that facilitates the formation of well-integrated regional supply chains in mining regions through more focussed policy and strategies.

Originality/value

The proposed framework is one of the first attempts to offer a holistic structured approach to governance of the regional supply chains based on CAS principles. With the current transformative changes in the global mining industry, policy-makers and supply chain practitioners have an urgent need to embrace CAS and network paradigms to remain competitive in the twenty-first century.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 14 March 2008

Christine Wycisk, Bill McKelvey and Michael Hülsmann

The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze whether supply networks may be validly treated as complex adaptive systems (CAS). Finding this to be true, the paper…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze whether supply networks may be validly treated as complex adaptive systems (CAS). Finding this to be true, the paper turns into the latest concerns of complexity science like Pareto distributions to explain well‐known phenomena of extreme events in logistics, like the bullwhip effect. It aims to introduce a possible solution to handle these effects.

Design/methodology/approach

The method is a comparative analysis of current literature in the fields of logistics and complexity science. The discussion of CAS in supply networks is updated to include recent complexity research on power laws, non‐linear dynamics, extreme events, Pareto distribution, and long tails.

Findings

Based on recent findings of complexity science, the paper concludes that it is valid to call supply networks CAS. It then finds that supply networks are vulnerable to all the nonlinear and extreme dynamics found in CAS within the business world. These possible outcomes have to be considered in supply network management. It is found that the use of a neural network model could work to manage these new challenges.

Practical implications

Since, smart parts are the future of logistics systems, managers need to worry about the combination of human and smart parts, resulting design challenges, the learning effects of interacting smart parts, and possible exacerbation of the bullwhip effect. In doing so, the paper suggests several options concerning the design and management of supply networks.

Originality/value

The novel contribution of this paper lies in its analysis of supply networks from a new theoretical approach: complexity science, which the paper updates. It enhances and reflects on existing attempts in this field to describe supply networks as CAS through the comprehensive theoretical base of complexity science. More specifically, it suggests the likely vulnerability to extreme outcomes as the “parts” in supply networks become smarter. The paper also suggests different ways of using a neural network approach for their management – depending on how smart the logistics parts actually are.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 19 February 2018

Larissa Statsenko, Alex Gorod and Vernon Ireland

The competitiveness of mining regions largely depends on the performance of the regional supply chains that provide services to mining companies. These local supply chains…

Abstract

Purpose

The competitiveness of mining regions largely depends on the performance of the regional supply chains that provide services to mining companies. These local supply chains are often highly intertwined and represent a regional supply network for the industry. Individual companies often use supply chain strategies that are sub-optimal to overall supply network performance. To effectively respond to an uncertain business environment, policy-makers and supply chain participants would benefit by a governance framework that would allow to incentivise the formation of supply networks structures enabling effective operations. The purpose of this paper is to offer an empirically grounded conceptual framework based on Complex Adaptive Systems (CASs) governance principles, which links network governance mechanisms with supply network structure and operational performance to incentivise the formation of adaptive and resilient supply networks in the mining industry.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed method research design and a case study of the South Australian mining sector were used to collect empirical data. Qualitative interviews and network analysis of the SA mining industry regional supply network structure were conducted. The relationships between network parameters were interpreted using CAS theory.

Findings

An empirically grounded conceptual framework based on CAS governance principles is developed. The case study revealed that supply chain strategies and governance mechanisms in the SA mining industry have led to the formation of a hierarchical, scale-free structure with insufficient horizontal connectivity which limits the adaptability, responsiveness and resilience of the regional supply network.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are drawn from a single case study. This limits generalisability of the findings and the proposed framework.

Practical implications

The proposed framework draws the attention of the policy-makers and supply chain participants towards the need for utilising CAS governance principles to facilitate the formation of adaptive, responsive and resilient regional supply networks in the mining industry.

Originality value

The proposed conceptual framework is an attempt to parameterise the governance of the regional supply networks in the mining industry.

Details

Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5364

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Article
Publication date: 26 January 2021

Zelinna Pablo, Kerry London, Peter S.P. Wong and Malik Khalfan

Current understandings of innovation in construction portray it as linear, deterministic phenomena centered around novel objects and technologies deployed in…

Abstract

Purpose

Current understandings of innovation in construction portray it as linear, deterministic phenomena centered around novel objects and technologies deployed in sequentially-organized supply chains. This study aims to develop an enriched understanding of construction innovation as non-linear, socio-material and dynamic phenomena in complex networks by formulating a novel conceptual apparatus of complex adaptive supply networks (CASNs) expanded through actor-network theory (ANT) concepts.

Design/methodology/approach

This combined CASN/ANT apparatus is mobilized in the context of a qualitative case study involving a housing construction supply network in Australia making use of offsite manufacturing (OSM) techniques.

Findings

The study shows that innovative technologies such as novel OSM products can play an important though not necessarily deterministic role in the evolution of CASNs. The study also explicates the process by which the enrollment of non-human agents and the resulting CASN evolution are linked: innovative technologies shape human and non-human interactions in ways that redefine task delegation, role definition and schemas that are fundamental to the shape of CASNs.

Originality/value

Findings provide a compelling empirical basis for arguing that CASNs must be conceptualized as heterogeneous systems and that innovation in construction must be understood as non-linear, socio-material and dynamic, rather than linear and driven by technological determinism. The study also interrogates limiting notions of supply chains and supports the notion of alternative inter-organizational forms to understand construction project work.

Details

Construction Innovation , vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-4175

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Article
Publication date: 12 November 2018

Henry Adobor and Ronald S. McMullen

The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual framework on resilience types in supply chain networks.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual framework on resilience types in supply chain networks.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a complex adaptive systems perspective as an organizing framework, the paper explores three forms of resilience: engineering, ecological and evolutionary and their antecedents and links these to four phases of supply chain resilience (SCRES): readiness, response, recovery, growth and renewal.

Findings

Resilient supply chains need all three forms of resilience. Efficiency and system optimization approaches may promote quick recovery after a disruption. However, system-level response requires adaptive capabilities and transformational behaviors may be needed to move supply chains to new fitness levels after a disruption. The three resilience types discussed are not mutually exclusive, but rather complement each other and there are synergies and tradeoffs among these resilience types.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical validation of the theoretical propositions will open up new vistas for supply chain research. Possibilities exist for analyzing and assessing SCRES in multiple and more comprehensive ways.

Practical implications

The findings of the research can help managers refine their approaches to managing supply chain networks. A more balanced approach to supply chain management can reduce the risks and vulnerabilities associated with supply chain disruptions.

Originality/value

This study is unique as it conceptualizes SCRES in multiple ways, thereby extending our understanding of supply chain stability.

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Article
Publication date: 8 August 2016

Mehrdokht Pournader, Kristian Rotaru, Andrew Philip Kach and Seyed Hossein Razavi Hajiagha

Based on the emerging view of supply chains as complex adaptive systems, this paper aims to build and test an analytical model for resilience assessment surrounding supply

Abstract

Purpose

Based on the emerging view of supply chains as complex adaptive systems, this paper aims to build and test an analytical model for resilience assessment surrounding supply chain risks at the level of the supply chain system and its individual tiers.

Design/methodology/approach

To address the purpose of this study, a multimethod research approach is adopted as follows: first, data envelopment analysis (DEA) modelling and fuzzy set theory are used to build a fuzzy network DEA model to assess risk resilience of the overall supply chains and their individual tiers; next, the proposed model is tested using a survey of 150 middle- and top-level managers representing nine industry sectors in Iran.

Findings

The survey results show a substantial variation in resilience ratings between the overall supply chains characterizing nine industry sectors in Iran and their individual tiers (upstream, downstream and organizational processes). The findings indicate that the system-wide characteristic of resilience of the overall supply chain is not necessarily indicative of the resilience of its individual tiers.

Practical implications

High efficiency scores of a number of tiers forming a supply chain are shown to have only a limited effect on the overall efficiency score of the resulting supply chain. Overall, our research findings confirm the necessity of adopting both the system-wide and tier-specific approach by analysts and decision makers when assessing supply chain resilience. Integrated as part of risk response and mitigation process, the information obtained through such analytical approach ensures timely identification and mitigation of major sources of risk in the supply chains.

Originality/value

Supply chain resilience assessment models rarely consider resilience to risks at the level of individual supply chain tiers, focusing instead on the system-wide characteristics of supply chain resilience. The proposed analytical model allows for the assessment of supply chain resilience among individual tiers for a wide range of supply chain risks categorized as upstream, downstream, organizational, network and external.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2011

Jack Buffington and Donald McCubbrey

The purpose of this paper is to address the problem in research of a lack of a holistic conceptual framework related to incremental and discontinuous innovation. Too…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the problem in research of a lack of a holistic conceptual framework related to incremental and discontinuous innovation. Too often, the term “innovation” is used without an understanding of how it can be applied in a product design and supply chain fulfillment system. In this study, the goal is to develop a holistic “innovation continuum” to treat innovation as a complex adaptive system (CAS).

Design/methodology/approach

A comprehensive literature review was conducted, and from it, four propositions and a conceptual framework were developed.

Findings

The authors determined that an “innovation continuum” can be established through the use of a complex adaptive system. Two, incremental innovation is determined to possess adaptive qualities, and can be enhanced through the use of collaboration and evolutionary algorithms. Three, discontinuous innovation is established as a creative process enabled through expert designers, and improved through the use of generative design. Next, a supply chain system for incremental innovation can be assisted by the use of adaptive systems, but it is not proven that a generative customization system (for discontinuous innovation) can be improved through the use of a CAS.

Originality/value

The paper has established an “innovation continuum” linking incremental and discontinuous innovation within one holistic system. It establishes the use of evolutionary algorithms to improve the viability of incremental innovation, and generative design for discontinuous innovation. Finally, the concept of generative customization as an end to end product design and supply chain fulfillment solution for discontinuous innovation is established.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 11 February 2021

Emilia Vann Yaroson, Liz Breen, Jiachen Hou and Julie Sowter

The purpose of this study was to advance the knowledge of pharmaceutical supply chain (PSC) resilience using complex adaptive system theory (CAS).

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to advance the knowledge of pharmaceutical supply chain (PSC) resilience using complex adaptive system theory (CAS).

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory research design, which adopted a qualitative approach was used to achieve the study’s research objective. Qualitative data were gathered through 23 semi-structured interviews with key supply chain actors across the PSC in the UK.

Findings

The findings demonstrate that CAS, as a theory, provides a systemic approach to understanding PSC resilience by taking into consideration the various elements (environment, PSC characteristics, vulnerabilities and resilience strategies) that make up the entire system. It also provides explanations for key findings, such as the impact of power, conflict and complexity in the PSC, which are influenced by the interactions between supply chain actors and as such increase its susceptibility to the negative impact of disruption. Furthermore, the antecedents for building resilience strategies were the outcome of the decision-making process referred to as co-evolution from a CAS perspective.

Originality/value

Based on the data collected, the study was able to reflect on the relationships, interactions and interfaces between actors in the PSC using the CAS theory, which supports the proposition that resilience strategies can be adopted by supply chain actors to enhance this service supply chain. This is a novel empirical study of resilience across multiple levels of the PSC and as such adds valuable new knowledge about the phenomenon and the use of CAS theory as a vehicle for exploration and knowledge construction in other supply chains.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 21 August 2020

Henry Mutebi, Joseph Mpeera Ntayi, Moses Muhwezi and John C. Kigozi Munene

To coordinate humanitarian organisations with different mandates that flock the scenes of disasters to save lives and respond to varied needs arising from the increased…

Abstract

Purpose

To coordinate humanitarian organisations with different mandates that flock the scenes of disasters to save lives and respond to varied needs arising from the increased number of victims is not easy. Therefore, the level at which organisations self-organise, network and adapt to the dynamic operational environment may be related to inter-organisational coordination. The authors studied self-organisation, organisational networks and adaptability as important and often overlooked organisational factors hypothesised to be related to inter-organisational coordination in the context of humanitarian organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study’s sample consisted of 101 humanitarian organisations with 315 respondents. To decrease the problem of common method variance, the authors split the samples within each humanitarian organisation into two subsamples: one subsample was used for the measurement of self-organisation, organisational network and adaptability, while the other was for the measurement of inter-organisational coordination.

Findings

The partial least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) analysis using SmartPLS 3.2.8 indicated that self-organisation is related to inter-organisational coordination. Organisational network and adaptability were found to be mediators for the relationship between self-organisation and inter-organisational coordination and all combined accounted for 57.8% variance in inter-organisational coordination.

Research limitations/implications

The study was cross sectional, hence imposing a limitation on changes in perceptions over time. Perhaps, a longitudinal study in future is desirable. Data were collected only from humanitarian organisations that had delivered relief to refugees in the stated camps by 2018. Above all, this study considered self-organisation, adaptability and organisational networks in the explanation of inter-organisational coordination, although there are other factors that could still be explored.

Practical implications

A potential implication is that humanitarian organisations which need to coordinate with others in emergency situations may need to examine their ability to self-organise, network and adapt.

Social implications

Social transformation is a function of active social entities that cannot work in isolation. Hence, for each to be able to make a contribution to meaningful social change, there is need to develop organisational networks with sister organisations so as to secure rare resources that facilitate change efforts coupled with the ability to reorganise themselves and adapt to changing environmental circumstances.

Originality/value

The paper examines (1) the extent to which self-organisation, adaptability and organisational networks influence inter-organisational coordination; (2) the mediating role of both adaptability and organisational networks between self-organisation and inter-organisational coordination in the context of humanitarian organisations against the backdrop of complex adaptive system (CAS) theory.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

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