Modes of Supply Strategy Making: An exploration of functional strategy process

  • Richard Johns

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is an empirical exploration of supply strategy content and process. The investigation uses a single-sector case study methodology to explore the scope of supply strategy content, the interaction between supply strategy content and context, and supply strategy process within four aerospace sector companies. The research also uses an extant Integrative Framework to subsequently identify the ‘modes’ of supply strategy process that best describe supply strategy process in the case studies. While the scope of supply strategy content suggested by the supply management literature is theoretically broad, supply strategy process is represented in the literature as chiefly derived from business / corporate strategy. Recognising that details of the processes / practices that create supply strategy and the scope of content within supply strategies have been under-explored empirically, this investigation seeks to contribute to a developing understanding of supply strategy content and process ‘in practice’ and in particular, the role of actors in supply strategy process - which is largely absent in related studies. The research contributes to existing knowledge by finding that the opportunity / autonomy actors have to enact supply strategy process is broadly determined by contextual factors. Furthermore, the investigation finds that supply strategy process, actors and context all have a moderating effect on the scope of supply strategy content. It is also shown that different actors engage in the formulation and implementation stages of strategy process. Finally, the investigation identifies one dominant ‘mode’ of supply strategy process and distinctive combinations of ‘secondary’ modes in each case study. For practitioners, this investigation illustrates that the opportunity and facility to think / act strategically in supply is dependant upon more than just resolve and motivation; it is the product of a complex interaction of strategy context, content, process and actors. The thesis concludes by making a number of recommendations for practice and by identifying opportunities for further research in this field.
Date of Award1 Jun 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Lewis (Supervisor) & Andrew Graves (Supervisor)


  • functional strategy
  • strategy process
  • supply strategy

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