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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Sandra Hildbrand and Shamim Bodhanya

This paper aims to explore the complexity that characterises sugarcane production and supply systems by applying soft systems methodology (SSM) and the viable system model…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the complexity that characterises sugarcane production and supply systems by applying soft systems methodology (SSM) and the viable system model (VSM) based on an interpretive systemic approach. It seeks to understand the extent to which these methodologies may assist in exploring such a complexity.

Design/methodology/approach

SSM and VSM were combined with qualitative research methods to explore two sugarcane production and supply systems’ potential improvement possibilities.

Findings

Trust, transparency and communication shortcomings, poor miller–grower relationships, deficient systemic commitment, insular view, milling inefficiencies, sugarcane quality, quantity and consistency shortcomings, the industry setup and the lack of a common driver are core issues. SSM and VSM facilitated a thorough understanding, yet could not address detected deficiencies.

Research limitations/implications

The research was restricted to two milling areas, and only SSM and VSM were applied.

Practical implications

Presented findings can be used as a basis to facilitate improvement in sugarcane production and supply systems and to advocate the continuity of holistic considerations.

Originality/value

Neither SSM nor VSM have been applied in the sugar industry context. The sugarcane production and supply systems have been holistically investigated, and soft issues have been considered.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 46 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 25 November 2014

Sandra Hildbrand and Shamim Bodhanya

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the viable system model (VSM) as a valuable tool to the food industry. A sugarcane supply chain was used to evaluate VSM's…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the viable system model (VSM) as a valuable tool to the food industry. A sugarcane supply chain was used to evaluate VSM's applicability to the food industry by exploring how VSM can help to understand its complexity.

Design/methodology/approach

VSM and qualitative research methods were combined in an interactive manner to produce a VSM diagnosis.

Findings

The VSM diagnosis highlighted that while continuity of the system is not at risk, many improvement opportunities exist. For example, the local mill management lacks autonomy, essential operational measurement cannot be realised, coordination is deficient and a vision or identity for the mill area and a joint effort to engage in strategic considerations is missing. Miller-grower fragmentation surfaced as one cause of these shortcomings.

Research limitations/implications

Although VSM revealed shortcomings, it was unable to facilitate interventions for improvement. VSM's capacity in dealing with shortcomings should be strengthened and the merit of VSM in other food-related supply systems should be investigated.

Practical implications

Millers and growers need to become genuine partners and work jointly on the issues that challenge the system to realise the full potential that is embedded in the system.

Originality/value

VSM has not been applied in the sugar industry context and the amount of researches that explore sugarcane supply chains holistically is limited.

Details

British Food Journal, vol. 116 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0007-070X

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

Carel Nicolaas Bezuidenhout, Shamim Bodhanya and Linda Brenchley

Sugar from cane remains an important economic contributor in many countries. A lack of collaboration has been identified as a key problem in many of these regions. To…

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Abstract

Purpose

Sugar from cane remains an important economic contributor in many countries. A lack of collaboration has been identified as a key problem in many of these regions. To date, few sugar researchers have exploited the valuable supply chain collaboration knowledge available in the literature, such as the Supply Chain Collaboration Index (SCCI). This paper seeks to address these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from three sugarcane milling areas. The SCCI was contextualised from a psychological perspective and used in the quantitative data analyses. A special objective was to raise a number of pertinent questions, which would fast track stakeholders to a new level of collaboration.

Findings

Many relationships in the supply chain remain relatively positive. The main attributes of concern are stability, reliability, trust, personal relationships and communication. A lack of these attributes causes fragmentation, opportunism and a desire to over‐control. Mutuality and communication are key leverages in the system.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need to understand how collaboration could be enhanced when stakeholders hold different balances of power. This study is still limited to sugarcane milling in South Africa.

Practical implications

This paper demonstrates a partially quantitative research methodology to understand collaboration in a food supply chain. The authors also propose a tool to help industry stakeholders to resolve current problems.

Originality/value

The psychological profiling of SCCI attributes and subsequent correspondence analyses is original. A framework of collaboration questions combined with Kepner‐Tregoe Problem Analyses is unique. These tools are generic to any agricultural supply chain.

Details

British Food Journal, vol. 114 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0007-070X

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Article
Publication date: 2 February 2015

Sandra Hildbrand and Shamim Bodhanya

Although many cases where viable system model (VSM) was successfully applied exist, hardly any literature advises the novice VSM user regarding the accomplishment of a VSM…

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1182

Abstract

Purpose

Although many cases where viable system model (VSM) was successfully applied exist, hardly any literature advises the novice VSM user regarding the accomplishment of a VSM diagnosis. The purpose of this paper is to show practitioners and researchers how to conduct a VSM diagnosis. The paper further seeks to encourage others to apply VSM and to share their experience with using VSM.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides detailed guidelines on how to conduct a VSM diagnosis in conjunction with qualitative research methods. It outlines the data collection, analysis and presentation of results.

Findings

VSM is an outstanding diagnostic tool. Qualitative research methods provide access to the essential information for the VSM diagnosis and should be used in iteration with VSM. They can enhance the VSM diagnosis by focusing on the soft aspects in the investigated system. The VSM language needs to be adapted to the specific context in which VSM is used and VSM can be applied in a participatory manner. Further research needs to explore possibilities to strengthen the handling of detected shortcomings that were revealed during the VSM diagnosis.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is based on one experience with the VSM application and other VSM users might provide different insights.

Originality/value

There is little practical advice in existing literature regarding the accomplishment of a VSM diagnosis. This paper addresses that gap. In addition, VSM has not been applied to a sugarcane production and supply system before.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 7 April 2015

Hammed Ojugbele and Shamim Bodhanya

The purpose of this paper is to use modeling and simulation to investigate the puzzling performance problems that plagued the project outsourcing in term of poor quality…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use modeling and simulation to investigate the puzzling performance problems that plagued the project outsourcing in term of poor quality and delivery delay, and apply the appeal and power of system dynamics modeling as a managerial approach to improve learning and intervention in complex situations to South African context where little or no such attempt had been made.

Design/methodology/approach

This work is based on exploratory use of system dynamics modeling to study a web of quality and productivity problems that plagued a company as a result of adopting outsourcing as a policy to bolster productivity and service delivery.

Findings

A significant finding from this research is that outsourcing has the propensity to perpetuate any trend it dominantly generates as a result of strong positive feedback loops. It also made explicit the dynamic processes that lead to certain observations that have been made in conventional management literature about the effects of outsourcing.

Research limitations/implications

The major limitation to this study is availability of information in form of certain operating data need for calibration thus imposing few aggregations on the model.

Originality/value

The authors believe that this work has a degree of originality as it applies system dynamics modeling to public sector outsourcing which not being done before. It also made a significant finding by uncovering possible counteractive effect of outsourcing on internal staff.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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