Supply chain management: relationships, chains and networks

Christine M. Harland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

704 Citations (SciVal)


The term supply chain management is used to represent a variety of different meanings, some related to management processes, others to structural organization of businesses. This paper identifies and discusses various definitions of supply chain management, summarizes the associated bodies of knowledge and connects them using a systems approach. Systems levels of supply chain management are identified as the internal supply chain, the dyadic relationship, the external supply chain and the inter-business network.

Empirical research on behavioural aspects of relationships, chains and networks in the European automotive aftermarket is discussed, identifying gaps in perceptions of requirements and performance held by customers and suppliers in the areas of quality, delivery, service, range and price. A combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis demonstrates substantial differences between approaches to supply chain management, though performance in relationships, chains and networks in the territories examined does not differ significantly.

Customer dissatisfaction in relationships is shown to increase upstream in the supply chains examined, extending the applicability of the industrial dynamics ‘Forrester effect’ to softer, behavioural aspects of performance. Conclusions are drawn supporting the suggestions of operations strategists that position in the supply chain is an important strategic variable which, to date, have not been comprehensively proven empirically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S63-S80
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue numbers1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


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