Creating the Customer-responsive Supply Chain: A Reconciliation of Concepts

Reichhart, Andreas and Holweg, Matthias (2007) Creating the Customer-responsive Supply Chain: A Reconciliation of Concepts. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 27 (11). pp. 1144-1172.


– While the concept of supply chain responsiveness (SCR) has received considerable attention in the operations management literature, mostly under the auspices of concepts such as build‐to‐order, mass customisation, lean and agility, so far there is a lack of comprehensive definition of SCR, as well as a defined relationship between “responsiveness” and “flexibility”. Also, the frameworks at hand tend to consider only a subset of factors previously identified in the literature, and thus do not comprehensively portray the cause‐and‐effect relationships involved. This paper aims to address these gaps.

– The paper synthesises the existing contributions to manufacturing and supply chain flexibility and responsiveness, and draws on various related bodies of literature that affect a supply chain's responsiveness such as the discussion of product architecture and modularisation.

– Four types of responsiveness are identified: product, volume, mix, and delivery, all of which can relate to different time horizons, and can be present as either potential or demonstrated responsiveness. It is argued that a supply chain can feature different levels of responsiveness at different tiers, depending on the configuration of the individual nodes, as well as the integration thereof. Furthermore, a holistic framework is proposed, distinguishing between requiring and enabling factors for responsiveness, identifying the key relationships within and between these two categories.

Research limitations/implications
– The definition and framework proposed provide novel insights into the concept of SCR as well as a clear terminology that will inform future research. The framework developed in this paper is suitable for both qualitative and holistic quantitative studies.

– In addition to a detailed review of the factors associated with SCR, a generic definition of responsiveness is developed. The paper proposes a definition of four types of responsiveness which will support further empirical studies into the concept and its application. Furthermore, a holistic framework is developed that allows for cause‐and‐effect relationships to be investigated and dependencies to be identified.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Supply chain management, Response flexibility, Bespoke production
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2015 16:33
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2016 11:24
Funders: N/A

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