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The global orientation and increased performance based competition combined with rapidly changing technology and economic conditions all contribute to marketplace uncertainty. This uncertainty requires greater flexibility on the part of individual companies and distribution channels, which in turn demand more flexibility in channel relationships. Globalization of resource acquisition has forced companies to look for more effective ways to coordinate the flow of materials into and out of the company. Companies and distribution channels compete more today on the basis of time and quality. Delivering a defect free product to the customer faster and more reliably than the competitor is no longer seen as a competitive advantage but simply a requirement to remain in the market All these factors have made the concept of Supply Chain Management more important to companies and, as a result more often written about in the business press. Despite the popularity of the term Supply Chain Management (SCM) there remain considerable confusion as to its meaning and the effectiveness as a management philosophy. Researchers are seeking answers to questions regarding the benefits of SCM to user organizations. Also should it be used differently in different situations (industry specific SCM). Researchers are almost unanimous today that SCM does exist and the benefits achieved by a large number of organizations worldwide indicate that this management philosophy does provide higher benefits to user organizations.
It has been seen that organizations belonging to different industries have been able to gain different levels of benefits by incorporating this philosophy. In India SCM has gained popularity in last decade and even today very few organizations are using it. To understand why more and more organizations are not adopting this conceptually sound management philosophy it is essential to understand the impediments to effective Supply Chain Management. These impediments may be different in different industries or may exist at different levels and therefore they need to be studied separately for each industry before a common and more generalized list of impediments to SCM can be prepared. In line with the above discussion the present paper is an attempt to identify impediments to effective Supply Chain Management in pharmaceutical industry in India.
1Associate Professor, 2Assistant Professor and 3Alumnus MBA 2001 Batch, Prestige Institute of Management and Research, 2 Education and Health Sector, Scheme 54, Indore 452010.
Impediments to Effective Supply Chain Management
(A Study of Pharmaceutical Industry)
'No man is an island' is a cliché is a reality in the realm of business today. The globally competitive environment has made reduced costs, increased quality, improved responsiveness and service, flexibility and better product availability a top priority for business. In meeting these challenges, business can no longer expect that just by becoming efficient in them selves, the objective can be met. These efficiencies must also be present in the suppliers, the distribution channels and all associated activities for value to be delivered to the customer. The latest paradigm for competition is that competition is not between individual companies but between groups of companies where each group consists of companies that are linked together, in a chain for delivering customer value (Vittal, 1998).
The evolution of supply chain concept marked a fundamental departure from the traditional functional oriented thinking. Traditionally, companies have tended to see their strengths in terms of their own capabilities, resources and the notion of competition was meant to connote rivalry between stand alone companies. The emergence of networked organizations, which is complex web of linkages between focused partners, each of which adds value through specialization, in an activity where it can provide a differential advantage. The need for coordination between the partners has heralded a revolutionary concept of the extended value chain stretching beyond the conventional boundaries of the organization - the concept of supply chain. Today companies no longer compete with other stand-alone companies but supply chain of one company competes with other supply chains because, where organizations work independent of their suppliers and customers, costs and inefficiencies tend to build at the interfaces.
Supply chain has been defined differently by different authors but the basic definition on which almost all the authors agree is that supply chain is a set of three or more companies directly linked by one or more of the upstream and down stream flows of products, services, finances, and information from a source to a customer. Implicit within this definition is that supply chains have existed in business forever, whether they are managed or not. Management of these supply chains require all the organizations in the supply chain to adopt supply chain orientation. Supply chain orientation (SCO) can be described as the recognition by a company of the systematic, strategic implications of the activities and processes involved in managing the various flows in supply chain. Thus a company is said to possess SCO if its management (in its entirety) can see the implications of managing the upstream and down stream flows of products, services, finances, and information across their suppliers and customers. Supply Chain Management is the implementation of supply chain orientation across suppliers and customers. Thus, it can be stated that supply chain orientation is a management philosophy and supply chain management is the sum total of all the overt management actions undertaken to realize that philosophy. La Londe (1997) reflects the same philosophy where he has defined SCM as the process of managing relationships, information, and material flows across enterprise borders to deliver enhanced customer service and economic value through synchronized management of the flow of physical goods and associated information from sourcing to consumption.
In adopting SCM philosophy, firms must establish management practices that permit them to act or behave consistent with the philosophy. Previous research has brought out a number of activities that are necessary to implement SCM philosophy successfully. Bowersox and Closs (1996) argued that to be fully effective in today's competitive environment, firms must expand their integrated behavior to incorporate customers and suppliers. Mutually sharing information among channel members is required, especially for planning and monitoring processes (Ellram and Cooper, 1990; Novack et al. 1995; Cooper, Lambert and Pagh, 1997). The global logistics research team at Michigan State University (1995) defined information sharing as the willingness to make strategic and tactical data available to other members of the supply chain. Effective SCM also requires Mutual sharing of channel risks and rewards that yield a competitive advantage (Ellram and Cooper, 1990). Risks and rewards sharing is important for long term focus and cooperation among the supply chain members should take place over long term (Cooper, Ellram et al. 1997).
Cooperation among the channel members is required for effective SCM (Ellram and Cooper, 1990). Cooperation is not limited to current transactions and takes place over time (Anderson and Narus, 1990). Cooperation starts with joint planning and ends with joint control activities to evaluate performance of the SCM members as well as the supply chain as a whole (Spekman, 1988; Novack et al, 1995). La Londe and Masters (1994) proposed that a supply chain succeeds if all the members of the supply chain have same goals and same focus of serving customers. Thus, implementation of SCM needs the integration of processes like sourcing, manufacturing and distribution across supply chains (Manodt et al, 1997). Absence of the enabling factors act as impediments to successful Supply Chain Management.
CHARACTERISTICS OF PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY IN INDIA
The pharmaceutical industry is not untouched by the forces of change unleashed by the globalising economy. Recent developments on WTO front, especially related to patents under IPR regime is expected to have significant impact over pharmaceutical companies. The major challenge is said to be that of efficiency (cost) and effectiveness (customer value). The restructuring of global competition has encouraged the development of supply chain management. In the 1980s, the focus was on supplier partnerships to improve cost and quality, but in today's faster paced markets, the focus has shifted to innovation, flexibility and speed (Margretta, 1998). According to Hayes and Pissano (1994), competitive strategic flexibility is the ability to switch strategies from low cost producer to rapid product development relatively quickly and with minimal resources.
In Indian pharmaceutical industry it has been found that the existing SCM practices are incapable of producing the desired effectiveness. One possible reason may be that the practices incorporated by pharmaceutical industries were not developed as per norms and standards prevailing in pharmaceutical industry. It has been argued that the existing practices have been developed mostly in the context of consumer goods and services that do not fully capture the realities of the pharmaceutical industry. Attempt to treat generic or non-OTC Pharmaceutical products as consumer goods and applying the above practices could lead to anomalies in the SCM itself. Three significant aspects of contextual difference of pharmaceutical industry from other industries are, in the nature of product consumption, product substitution and product obsolescence.
Nature of product consumption: In case of consumer goods and services, the demand generator and end users of the products are the same. However, in the case of pharmaceutical products the demand generators and end users are different, because of the nature of the process in which the product is consumed. For example a patient (end user) who is ill would want to use a drug to cure the illness but does not know what is the illness and therefore what drug to be used. Thus, though there is need for the use of drug the demand has not yet been generated. Therefore, from the context of the drug producer, the doctor triggers the demand for the drug. However, factors such as price, shortening of prescribed dosage, side effects, and alternative medication, which are patient specific, too affect the demand pattern.
Product substitution: In case of pharmaceutical products, brand awareness is almost negligible leading to near zero involvement with the brand. This happens because of legal restrictions on pharmaceutical advertising and also because he choice of the product is not in the hands of end user but the doctor. This is why, when the prescribed product is not available at the retail vendor, the lack of brand involvement and the immediate requirement of the product prevents the customer from making the extensive search of the desired brand, either through visiting multiple retail locations or going back to the doctor to change the product or brand. In such cases the customer would go by the judgment of the retailer in substituting the prescribed product with another competing product brand that is supposed to have the same efficacy. Also, if the price of the prescribed product is very high, which the customer finds unaffordable, the lack of brand involvement will make the customer willing to have the product substituted with a brand which is less costly and thus affordable.. The retailer also may have a particular interest in pushing a particular brand, which may result into substitution of the prescribed product.
Product Obsolescence: Unlike consumer products, the expiry date of pharmaceutical products is very sacrosanct as consumption of pharmaceutical products beyond the expiry date could lead to serious repercussion for the patient. This means that the pharmaceutical products have a limited self-life compared to consumer products and at the end of the self-life, the product needs to be necessarily recalled. This means that the level of inventory needs to be managed very carefully so as to reduce the obsolescence cost while at the same time not to loose market share on account of product stock outs.
It is imperative from the above that for any pharmaceutical company that would want to excel in supply chain management performance, it is necessary that the design of supply chain should take into consideration the solutions to the above three basic characteristics that impact the pharmaceutical business. In light of the above facts, the present investigation was undertaken to explore the impediments to effective supply chain management in pharmaceutical industry.
The Study: The study undertaken was exploratory in nature with survey being the research approach to find out the organizational barriers to effective supply chain management in pharmaceutical industries in India.
The Sample: The sample size of 100 subjects was drawn from ten pharmaceutical organizations situated at Indore and adjoining areas i.e., Pithampur and Dewas. The sample unit consisted of senior managers from the organizations following the principles of supply chain management. The average experience of the subjects was found to be 11 years. Subjects were chosen randomly and other situational variables were controlled through randomization and elimination.
The Tools: A 30-item measure (Annexure I) was developed for collecting the data from the respondents. The items were chosen after extensive survey of literature on the factors affecting supply chain management in general and pharmaceutical industry in particular along with the opinion of the executives from industry. Likert's attitude scaling principle of summated ratings was adopted. The items were written carefully with usual precautions regarding wordings, precision, structural and emotional load of the items, etc. All items had seven response alternatives. The questionnaires were administered after establishing rapport with the subjects and they were informed about the purpose of the survey. However, they were convinced that it was a simple opinion survey. After collecting and tabulating the data, iterative correlation analysis was applied to test the internal consistency of the items through item-total correlation. After this process only twenty-five items were retained for final analysis, which were subjected to principle component factor analysis with varimax rotation to explore the factors affecting effectiveness of supply chain management in pharmaceutical organizations.
The remaining twenty-five items in the measure converged on nine factors after factors analysis. These factors, their constituting items and factor loads are given below.
Items and their factor loads
1. Top Management Perspective and Support
Multiple alternatives (0.9575)
Lack of Coordination and Team Work (0.9450)
Top Management Support (0.8638)
Top Management Perspective (0.7555)
Risk Perception (0.5934)
Lack of Cross Functional Cooperation (0.5733)
2. Technology and Infrastructure
Budget Constraints (0.9010)
Inadequate Hardware Facilities (0.7705)
Low Level of Technology Employed (0.6423)
Communication Barriers (0.5857)
3. Inventory Management
Stock Out at Retail Outlets (0.8731)
Demand Uncertainties (0.8234)
Poor Maintenance (0.2760)
Inadequate Transport Facilities (0.2664)
Management Heterogeneity (0.8234)
Climatic Heterogeneity (0.6537)
Geographical Heterogeneity (0.3023)
5. Trust and Commitment
Lack of Trust (0.6805)
Reluctance to share information (.5348)
Price Bargain (0.3666)
6. Transportation and Handling
Lack of Well Developed Road Network (0.7178)
Lack of Proper Handling During Transportation (0.3958)
7. Power Difference
Power Differences (0.8016)
8. Supply Chain Members' Skills
Deficiency in Skills of Supply Chain Members (0.7234)
Lack of Motivation and Conviction (0.3925)
The emergence of nine factors as impediments to effective Supply Chain Management are both congruent and in contrast to several earlier contentions in the domain of supply chain. Ross (1998) asserted that the creation and communication of a market winning competitive SCM vision shared not just within individual firms but also by the whole supply chain is essential before any SCM project can begin. Visioning provides firms with specific goals and strategies concerning how they plan to identify and realize the opportunities they expect to find in the market place. On similar lines, Houlihan (1998) suggested that what were once seen as logistics issues have become significant issues of strategic management and that SCM becomes a strategic tool to be incorporated in overall company strategy.
Top Management Perspective and Support (Total Factor Load = 4.6885): Top management perspective can be explained as the top management's clarity in understanding the environment faced by the firm, likely changes in this environment in future, their vision regarding the direction in which the firm will head in future, their clarity in converting this vision into reality through organizational restructuring, adoption of policies and practices, and use of managerial tools and techniques to realize the vision. Top management's perspective about the potential of Supply Chain Management philosophy determines their support to this philosophy. Supply chain relationships are generally long term and require considerable strategic coordination. Strategic coordination within the organization and between the supply chain partners is only possible with continued top management support.
Effective SCM is made up of a series of partnerships among firms working together and mutually sharing information, channel risks and rewards that yield competitive advantage (Ellram and Cooper, 1990). Gentry and vellenga, (1996) argued that it is highly unlikely that all the primary activities in a value chain - inbound and outbound logistics, operations, marketing, sales and service - will be performed by any one firm to maximize customer value. Forming strategic alliances with channel partners such as suppliers, customers or intermediaries in a way of leveraging a win-win relationship into strategic alignment of capabilities of both firms to create customer value (Langley an Holcomb, 1992).
Technology and Infrastructure (Total Factor Load = 2.8995): Technology forms the backbone of most corporate supply chains (Cooke, 1999a). Since managing the flow of information in the supply chain is as important as managing the flow of products, supply chain management is based on the exchange of substantial quantities of information among the buyer, supplier and carrier to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain (Factor, 1998). Information technology is at the center of virtually every aspect of business, especially in today's dynamic, uncertain and highly competitive environment. Such a business environment, emphasize more variety, better quality, greater reliability and quicker response to a dynamic, customer driven marketplace. One of the best ways to serve this demanding market is to develop effective intra-firm information systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), intranet, warehouse management system (WMS), transportation management system (TMS), materials requirement planning (MRP) and distribution resource planning (DRP). Also necessary are the inter-firm information systems that go beyond the boundaries of the firm to the supplier/vendor like EDI and the internet to improve the efficiency of information flow.
Flexibility in manufacturing is built in the conversion process design. Manufacturing facilities in pharmaceutical companies in India use automated processes characterized by different levels of hard and soft automation. Flexibility in manufacturing depends on the level of soft automation used. To put in place adequate information systems and have flexible manufacturing systems the companies need to invest in infrastructure and technology and are restricted in doing so because of budgetary constraints. Thus technology and infrastructure has emerged as a critical impediment in effective supply chain management.
Inventory management (Total Factor Load = 2.2389): Pharmaceutical companies face either of the two situations at the retail outlets i.e. stock outs of their products or obsolescence due to non-subscription by the doctors. In order to maintain the balance between corporate profitability (reduced obsolescence) and customer service (reduced stock outs) organizations use various inventory management techniques. Effective management of supply chain requires conscious management of factors influencing inventory requirements, policies and procedures that control the movement and storage of inventories and the impact of inventory on SCM and customer service. Poor transportation facilities and poor maintenance of the manufacturing facilities (machines and handling equipment) lead to higher inventory requirement to maintain the same level of service. Therefore inventory management has also immerged as a critical factor in effective SCM.
To manage inventory effectively, accurate demand forecasting is essential. To improve forecasting performance companies are increasingly relying upon advances in computer and information technologies. Point of sale (POS) data collection systems, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and more recently internet based applications all provide access to near-real time sales and forecasting information for each supply chain member (Smart, 1995; Booker, 1999). The enormity and the criticality of this aspect of SCM is underlined by the fact that despite significant advances in technology, sales forecasting accuracy and performance has improved little in the past decade (Androski, 1998; Mentzer et al, 1999).
Prior research findings indicate that during the 1980s despite the growing availability of computer-based forecasting systems companies continued to rely predominantly on techniques based on subjective inputs and basic demand exploration. In the 1990s though the firms have started to use more computer based forecasting and forecasters have become familiar with more sophisticated sales forecasting techniques, the level of forecast accuracy has not shown significant improvement. Mentzer and Kahn (1995a) argued that because of the uncertainties involved in the market place, forecasting techniques alone would not necessarily improve accuracy. Rather, managers should consider other issues associated with forecasting including the forecast environment, the data collected, the computer systems used and the way forecasting process was administered.
To better synchronize the planning and management of supply chain, companies have to share greater amount of information with trading partners. The information includes customer demand and sales forecasts derived from those data. Supply Chain initiatives such as Quick Response (QR), Efficient Customer Response (ECR), Collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) and Vendor managed Inventory (VMI) Each rely on forecasts to help plan and manage operations more effectively. Hence the immense diversity in demand and diversity in geographical locations has to be managed effectively otherwise, ramifications will be felt through out the entire process. The consequences may be that the manufacturing will have to adjust and run at less capacity or work overtime to meet customer demand; logistics expenses will be less than optimal; product will be at wrong place at wrong time.
According to Hayes and Pisano (1994) competitive strategic flexibility is the ability to switch strategies from low cost producer to rapid product development relatively quickly with minimal resources. One essential part of being able to change strategies is to ensure flexible production. The production functions job is to provide this capability. In an uncertain environment three are greater advantages associated with being flexible and being able to adapt quickly to changing market conditions.
Heterogeneity (Total Factor Load = 1.7794): Organizations in a supply chain differ in terms of their operating philosophies and corporate culture. Their goals and objectives also may not be compatible with each other. Meshing cultures and attitudes is time consuming, but it is necessary for the channel members to perform effectively as a chain. Where channel members are located far away from each other especially in different countries, they face different business environments and their perception about the uncertainties involved in the business may also differ. Probability of use of alliances (basic constituents of supply chain management) is higher where the partners have higher equal perceived uncertainties than the ones having low or unequal perceived uncertainties. Also, development of alliances, which are many forms of inter-firm co operations are positively associated with key managers' perception of environmental uncertainty (Dickson and Weaver, 1997)
Corporate philosophy or culture and management techniques of each firm in a supply chain should be compatible for successful SCM (Ellram et al., 1997; Cooper Lambert and Ellram, 1998; Cooper Lambert et al., 1997). Bucklin and Sengupta demonstrated that organizational compatibility between the firms in an alliance has a strong positive impact on the effectiveness of the relationship. Organisational compatibility in the supply chain means that all the companies must have supply chain orientation to achieve SCM effectiveness. Lambert et al (1995) suggest that there should be an agreement on SCM vision and key processes. Ross (1998) contends that creation and communication of a market winning competitive SCM vision should not only be shared by individual firms but the whole supply chain.
Trust and Commitment (Total Factor Load = 1.5819): Trust can be defined as willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence. Although both trust and commitment are essential to make cooperation work, trust is a major determinant of relationship commitment. Thus trust has both direct and indirect relationship with cooperation. Organizational cooperation in supply chain is not possible until high level of trust and commitment for mutual good exists between two partners. The relationships should be mutually fulfilling and rewarding, then only both the partners are able to add value to their supply chain. According to Morgan and Hunt (1994) trust and commitment are key because they encourage marketers to work at preserving relationship investments by cooperating with exchange partners, resist short term alternatives in favor of the expected long term benefits of staying with existing partners and view potentially high risk actions as being prudent because of the belief that their partners will not act opportunistically. As such trust and commitment lead directly to cooperative behaviors in the implementation of supply chain orientation across several companies to achieve supply chain management effectiveness.
Commitment is an essential ingrient for the implementation of SCM. Gundlacket al. (1995) and Lambert et al. (1998) also point out that the necessary commitment of resources and empowerment to achieve slated goals is important to implement SCM. Traditionally Indian organisations have treated their channel partners as adversaries. This was based on the premise that that the buyers may backward integrate into suppliers' business and suppliers' may backward integrate into buyers' business. In present scenario takeovers and mergers, specially the forced ones have prevented channel partners from developing full faith on the supply chain partners that could ensure the required level of commitment for supply chain to be effective.
Transportation and Handling (Total Factor Load = 1.1136): Transportation in supply chain context includes movement of materials from the suppliers' plant to the manufacturing facility, within the manufacturing facility for conversion of raw materials into finished products, movement of finished products to the distributors/C&F agents' storage facility and movement of materials to the retailers' facility. Handling includes handling of materials in the suppliers facility, loading at the suppliers facility, offloading at the firms own manufacturing facility, during the conversion process within the manufacturing facility, storage and issue, packaging the finished products, loading of finished products for transportation to the distributors/C&F agents, storage at the distributors'/C&F agents' warehouses and handling for transportation to retailers place.
Considerable inefficiencies exist at different stages of transportation and handling. Emergence of this factor also finds support in Bowersox and Closs (1996) where they contended that transport functionality provides two major functions - product movement and product storage. Since transportation utilizes temporal, financial and environmental resources, it is important that items be moved only when it truly enhances the product value. It was further argued that only transportation providers capable of interfacing with the third party providers in their range of service offerings would survive the competitive market place. This logistics application of the concept of 'functional shiftability' involves the recognition that carriers can provide non-transportation services and there by become marketing arms of the companies. In essence they become partners in the firms' strategic plans. Firms with logistic systems that provide high levels of customer service at reasonable cost have found that viewing the carrier firm as a strategic partner can result in a marketing advantage (Stock, 1988; Corsi, 1997). To create and enhance the optimal role for transportation in the supply chain the relationships between shippers and carriers needs to be explored. Benefits to the shippers of an expanded role of transportation carriers have included higher levels of productivity, financial payoffs resulting from increased operational and marketing flexibility and greater control over the supply chain.
Power Differences (Total Factor Load = 0.8016): A key ingredient of SCM success is that the firms in the supply chain recognize that to achieve effectiveness in SCM, they can no longer think about competing with other channel members based on power position. Effective SCM requires collaboration rather than competition among channel members. Lack of win-win approach and over reliance on power play was an important impediment in effective Supply Chain Management.
One of the most dominant paradigms of competition concerns power building i.e. sustainable position of power in an industry among competitors and suppliers (Porter, 1985). Supply Chain Management on the other hand is about competing on value - collaborating with customers and suppliers to create a position of strength in the marketplace based on the value delivered to the end consumer. The means to accomplice this objective is through creating customer value superior to the competitors value offering and thus, to enhance customer satisfaction, either through improving efficiency (lower cost) or effectiveness (added benefits). The degree to which customers are satisfied by the value created in dimensions important to them influences purchase choice and behaviours that improve the financial performance of the supply chain and the firms within it. An understanding of the entire supply chain is critical in identifying and delivering value that improves the competitiveness of the chain as a whole. (Slater and Nerver, 1994; Woodruff et al, 1991).
Supply Chain Members' Skills (Total Factor Load = 0.7234): Supply chain managers are often given joint responsibilities for engineering, purchasing, marketing, manufacturing, and logistics. SCM thus requires not only inter firm cooperation but also coordination across the traditional business functions and tactics within an individual supply chain firm. As the firm begins to divide labor and seek specialization among organizational members, it is necessary to work towards the common goals of the organization through proper coordination and control of actions. To achieve this it is imperative to work with mutual adjustment, direct supervision, standardization of work processes, output, skills and norms.
Carter and Narsimhan (1990) underlined the need for different skills in sourcing professionals, cross-functional support, integration with manufacturing and appropriate organizational structure to support global sourcing strategies. In addition to the SC skills requirements, a new set of skills and capabilities are required for effective global SCM. These include the ability to transfer knowledge and work effectively across cultures and to manage political, economic and cultural asymmetries. Organizational systems and processes need to reflect legal and cultural differences i.e. cultural implications for employee motivation and appropriate reward and recognition system.
Motivation (Total Factor Load = 0.3925): The biggest hurdle in managing supply chain is the lack of understanding and interest on the part of the managers responsible for SC. To achieve the objectives of SCM, supply chain managers must first adopt a supply chain orientation and begin considering supply chain as a single value system. There has to be an intrinsic desire to develop skills and capabilities which will facilitate them in delivering greater value to the end user. It is easier said than done. Organizations need to be persistent in their approach to motivate people to work cooperatively towards a shared objective as opposed to their individual objectives. Understanding the benefits of SCM for the organization and to the individuals could prove to be great motivator. But to keep the motivation levels high all the time, workers and executives involved have to be rewarded according to their efforts. Since the results in SCM are all inter-related, measuring performance of employees is very difficult. Also since executives and other members function in cross functional teams, group reward systems have to be developed.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS
On the basis of above discussion it can easily be concluded that there are significant impediments that hamper the implementation of Supply Chain Management philosophy in pharmaceutical industry in India. A number of these factors can only be overcome with the understanding of Supply Chain Orientation. Systematic efforts are needed to develop this orientation in all channel members. In fact organizations having this orientation need to assume leadership roles to help develop this orientation in other channel members. Such an effort will have snowballing effect because each firm is a member of multiple supply chains. The principal reason why firms fail to achieve dramatic supply chain improvements is lack of sufficient synchronization of their work with partners. The synchronization in work of the partners can be achieved by overcoming the impediments identified in this study. To start with organizations based on their size, economic power, customer patronage, and with coordinated internal processes in place will have to assume leadership roles for initiating and strengthening inter-firm relationships. Organizations can identify the areas, which need their attention the most. Effective coordination and integration is the need of the hour for the success of SCM practices. Proper information systems can go a long way in developing relationships with the channel members.
The study has wide ranging implications for both practitioners and researchers in the domain of supply chain management. Executives responsible for managing various elements of supply chain can work upon to remove the impediments as revealed by the present study. Specific and focused efforts can be mounted to overcome inefficiencies in supply chain processes by overcoming these impediments. Further, the study can be replicated on various other industrial samples to validate the present findings. Apart from this, these impediments can be studied independently case study research perceived method to see their degree of influence on various levels of supply chain process. In addition longitudinal research is needed to develop greater understanding of evolution of these impediments over time and generate solutions to overcome them. It is apparent that most of the impediments identified in the study fall within the realm of behavioral science. Therefore there is a strong need to bring the insights of behavioral research to understand these impediments better and find solutions to overcome them. In addition inter-industry comparisons can also be made to enhance the understanding of this complex phenomenon.