Collaboration in the supply chain

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In general terms supply chain management has been described by Cox (1997) as "a way of thinking that is devoted to discovering tools and techniques that provide for increased operational effectiveness and efficiency throughout the delivery channels that must be created internally and externally to support and supply existing corporate product and service offerings to customers". Supply chain management can also be defined as a management of three or more organisation linked together by one or more of the flow of product, services, finance and information from a source to a customer (Mentzer et al, 2001).

So based on the above definition supply chain management can be describe as a management of the relationship and activities among the member of the organisations internally as well as externally. As the business environment becomes more complex, organisations recognise that many benefits can be obtained from closer, long term relationship in supply chain (Ganesan, 1994). The goal of the supply chain management is that every member of the organisation should work together in close and long term relationship to increase the competitive advantage of the supply chain management as a whole which can act as one of the core competency of the organisation (Mentzer et al, 2001).

The difficulties for production companies are intensifying, as a "rising number products are launched whose targets market can only be reached effectively through a limited number of outlets whose ownership is concentrated in a diminishing number of centralised chain" (Guirdham, 1972, p: ix). However, there are plentiful examples of major sales and market share breakthrough being achieved by a supply chain strategy which requires a supply chain management.

External environment in which a firm operates also plays a critical role in the adoption and implementation of supply chain integration. The fast changing market demands require companies to integrate supply chain processes in order to be more responsive. Customers are demanding products which can be consistently delivered faster and more reliably, which requires close coordination within the firm and with retailers or outlets (Richey et al., 2009). However, A number of researches are done on the retail organisations and parent organisations but there is a lack in literature between the supply chain management of these two organisations.

As per OCED (2007) and Porter and Ketels (2003), manufacturing organisations in developed economies needs to move up the value chain and compete on the basis of value rather than on the basis of cost. To compete on the basis of the value the organisation should required services to the customer.

Martinez et al (2009) stated that it is a challenging task for a manufacturing organisation to become a product-service organisation (PSS) in which products and services can be provided by the retailers to the costumers for some organisation. The adoption of a new product-service strategy requires investments on capacity building such as the locating of retailers, new peoples' skills, capabilities and technologies etc. (Reinartz and Ulaga, 2008).

Therefore, in the short period of time it can be challenging for organisations to take out huge revenues from a new PSS transformation but in the longer period of time that new PSS strategies can bring huge revenues to the organisations (Quinn et al., 1990). Oliva and Kallenberg (2003), Davies (2003) and Araujo and Spring (2006) argue that during this transformation to a combined product-service offering, organisations are likely to change their strategies, value chains , operations, system integration capabilities, people expertise and technologies.

In many product service organisations (PSS) industries service are provided by the retailer as the core competency of a retailer lies in providing services to the customer and have the customer knowledge of that area. However, the way of changing transformation paths from a product manufacturing organisation to a combined product-service organisation are still poorly understood (Voss, 2005; Johnston, 1995; Miller et al., 2002; Tukker, 2004).

According to Richey et al, 2009 in PSS there are two drivers in supply chain integration which are internal and external. Most of the organisations look to develop the internal supply chain integration to reduce cost in production and the others factors instead of developing it overall. It is also said that managers have reported many difficulties in the process of implementing of complete supply chain integration because external environment is not in control of any organisation so it is hard to implement complete supply chain integration. Some organisations consider their retailer as an internal supply chain management of the organisation and some says that lies in external supply chain management of the organisation (Keller, 2002).

However, Internal planning failure is due to the lack of an effective planning that provides the outcome of business processes and external monitoring failure refers to the lack of an internal mechanism that effectively monitors the external environment (Burt and Davies, 2007). So which means that retailer organisation can a part of external or internal supply chain management but the failure comes from internal of the organisation. Instead of striving for common goals, each functional area works for its own interest to achieve its own performance objectives. A typical type of internal planning failure leads different functional areas in different directions. For example while the production department might heavily focus on cutting the costs, the sales department might only strive for bigger sales volume, which will make supply chain integration an impossible mission (Christopher, 2005).

As stated by Richey et al, 2009 external environment is not in control of any organisation so it is hard to implement complete supply chain integration but as stated by Burt and Davies, 2007 monitoring of external environment is due to lack of internal failure which concludes that an organisation can implement a complete supply chain integration internally.

In today's environment, competition is among supply chains rather than among individual companies (Christopher, 2005). This requires firms to have an effective information system to monitor external environment, including their customers, retailer, and competitors, to make appropriate decisions regarding supply chain integration.

Marketing authors have long argued that in order to be market oriented, firms must generate market knowledge about the current and future customer needs, distribute the knowledge across all the departments, and respond to it through coordination of departments (Kohli and Jaworski, 1990; Slater and Narver, 1995). The knowledge of the current and the future customers can be collected by the retailer as they are close to the customers and locally situated. "Competing supply chain that manage through collaboration to integrate supply and demand, deliver significant improved performance, and benefit yet further from close relationship that themselves foster more opportunity for greater improvement" (Barratt, 2004, p 31).

As per Findlay et al., 1990 retailing environment in developing countries is under developed and there is no particular system or structure for retail market. If the retailing environment in the developing countries are undeveloped then how the organisation are implementing the supply chain management. Barriers to supply chain integration act as a mediator to weaken the positive relationships between the drivers of supply chain integration and the firm performance. Hoek (2000) argued that because mechanisms for both internal and external integration can be found in the measurement and control of operations, it is important to develop integrative measures for the entire organization.

The research on the effects of the barriers to supply chain integration is still lacking, which limits the ability to find effective solutions to these issues. Thus, it is worthwhile to investigate the barriers and the effects of these barriers to supply chain integration.

Which external barriers are restricting from building a healthy supply chain relationship between the parent and retail organisation?

Available literature review explains about the benefits of the supply chain relationship. But there is a lack in the literature review which explains the external barriers and how to overcome with those barriers for an industry. By doing the research on the external barriers affecting in making the healthy relationship between the retail and the parent organisation can bring good solution for most of the product service organisation.

What problems the retail and parent organisation are facing internally to develop healthy supply chain relation?

To build a healthy relationship in supply chain management of product service organisation between the retailer and parent organisation internal barriers should be identified. External supply chain management fails due to the lack of an internal mechanism that effectively monitors the external environment (Freathy, 2003). By doing the research on the internal barriers affecting in making the healthy relationship between the retail and the parent organisation can bring good solution for most of the product service organisation.

How to overcome the barriers which are effecting to build a healthy supply chain relationship between the parent and retail organisation?

Only by findings the external and internal barriers in the making the healthy supply chain relationship between the parent and the retail organisation is not sufficient. It is necessary to find a solution to overcome the barriers for any organisation. As per the research the recommendation will be based on the solutions by using the primary and secondary data, so that the organisations which are facing the similar barriers found in research can use that solution to make a healthy relationship in supply chain management. By making a healthy relationship parent and retail organisation can provide better customer service and can gain more market share in their industry.

In an interpretive philosophy the Inductive approaches has been selected because of various reasons such as, in this approach theory is made up on the basis of data collected which means making sense of reality which can be find out of the interviews (collected data), here "cause and effect link exists between the variables and gaining the understanding of the meanings" (Saunder et al., 2007), which provides a close understanding of the real situation, which supports the usage of qualitative data, including interviews to be carried on. Moreover the tendency of deductive approach in framing 'rigid methodology which restricts the alternative explanation of what is going on' proves to be its criticism (Fisher, 2010).

A case study or literature review would be used with inductive approach in order to get in-depth analysis within a real life context. Yin, 2003 states that case studies or literature review not only provide access to wide range of attitudinal, behavioural, and historical issues but also can be used in combination of interviews and questionnaires (Saunders et al., 2007). Many researchers' stated that Triangulation of research methods is considered to be one of the most reliable and can be a valuable way of conducting research (Robson, 2002: cited in Fisher, 2007). Thus a multiple-method approach using a combination of research methods was considered thereby using qualitative data by conducting in-depth interviews (Saunders et al., 2007) and relating it to the literature review in the given time frame.

Research methods and sampling

The proposal is based on research that will be carried out on primary data as opposed to the secondary data due to the lack of literature available as well as the research has not been done on the above mentioned research questions. Primary data here includes the in-depth unstructured face to face interviews, to find out what exactly is going on in reality (findings barriers) and to seek new -insights (Robson, 2002: cited in Fisher, 2007), as well as informal interviews, considered as qualitative research interviews (King 2004: cited in Saunders et al., 2007), with directors of the retail organisation, senior managers, head employees of the retail organisation, head of regional office of Various organisation within the agriculture equipment industry (tractors) in Bundi region which is in Rajasthan(India). To cross check the barriers informal interview with the retail organisation in other region will also be conducted. Access to the information and interviewing the above designators has been granted by the leading market share organisation and their retailers and the permission of recording the interview is also granted. However chats are in process for signing off the confidentiality agreement to maintain the data integrity/privacy, as one of the core values of the organisations and with other brands retailers and with seniors of regional offices. Other information can be gathered from the company's back ground which can be use to relate it to the interview and access to those information has been approved like agreements between the retail and parent organisations.

For the choice of sampling techniques this research intends to use purposive sampling that involves selecting considerable number of informative interviews, hope to conduct 12 interviews with senior managers, directors of the retail organisation, head employees of the retail organisation, head of regional office within the agriculture equipment industry (tractors) in India, to meet the above mentioned objectives (Fisher, 2007; Saunders, 2007).


While doing un-structured and informal in-depth interviews, lot of factors needs to be taken care off. Open questions need to be asked in order to avoid biasness as well as to take out maximum possible information from the organisations. However, the focus will remain on the research question and the aim of research while interviewing. Interviewer's needs to take care of the dress-code, privacy of the person, opening comments to be made while starting interview, affective listening skills, approach to recording data and last but not the least given time horizon within which interviews needs to be conducted and analysed.

Specific Ethical or Legal Concerns With Your Research Project

It is necessary to understand the sensitivity of using the real data from the managers and the employees of the companies. It is important to clarify the research topic, data, gain access of the data and how we collect, analyse and use them in honest and responsible manner (Fisher, 2007; Saunders, 2007). "Ethics as the moral principles, norms or standards of behaviour that guide moral choices about our behaviour and our relationship with others" (Blumberg et al, 2005: cited in Saunders, 2007). During data collection making sure the data that has been collected is accurate and which is helpful to relate with the research question and should avoid all the subjective selectivity on what is going to be recorded. Taking great care and maintaining confidentiality and anonymity are important in gaining access to organisations information (Easterby-Smith et. al, 2009). Any suggestion and wrong interpretation made on the basis of using company data, could lead to big legal problem. Therefore under the section 2(b) 1998 Data protection Act, it is vitally important that all data be treated sensitively and confidentially (OPSI, 1988). All the information will be used what's available and has been used to make primary research for to fill the gap in the literature but this will be done by being fair to the companies and following their policies. Not only the data that has been collected is important but securing the data is also important, any leakage in data can bring the person or society into trouble pr into legal problems. According to the UK legislation, this refers to the provisions of data Protection Act, 1998. This allows protecting your data of your research legally in the country you live in (The stationary office, 1998: cited in Saunders, 2007).Identify what ethical or legal concerns that there may be with the project - be precise and detailed.

Preservation of Confidentiality and Anonymity

As per the research it is required to collect the information from various organisations and to keep the information secure for that confidentiality form will be signed between the researcher and the member of the organisation. Confidentiality form will also be signed between the researcher and the organisation. All the data will be kept safely.

Informed Consent

During collecting the data the managers of retail organisation and parent organisation will be informed that the information they are giving will not be shared by any others person or the organisation and it will only used for the research. The names of the manager and the organisation will be kept confidentially under the Data protection Act 1998 (Saunders et al., 2007).

Potential Good or Harm Caused by the Research

Identification of barriers in the research conducted can provide useful information for product-service organisations on developing their external and internal supply chain integration especially between the retail and parent organisation.

Ethical Guidelines in the Field

Please refer Section 1 of Ethical and legal concern.

Processing and Storage of Data

The data collected in the research will be treated discreetly and utilised with respect to the Data Protection Act 1998 (OPSI, 1998). All data in paper or electronic format will be stored safely and upon completion of the research project data will be destroyed completely.

The deadline for the proposal is on the 24th of May 2010. Further work will be pending once the results came out which will take approximately 4 weeks that will take it to 24th of June. Following the results and after the allocation of supervisor 2 weeks will be given to make the necessary changes to the proposal and start initial research. There has been not allocated a lot of time due to various reasons for the research. Firstly, the research cannot be start because of the other modules which will be finish on 5th of July 2010; it will be hard to devote time completely to research during this period. Secondly research will have to be done under an allocated supervisor and communicate and availability of the supervisor will have to be considered. Once the proposal has been passed by allocated supervisor, the collection of the secondary data which includes the background and literature study such as articles, journals and information will be carried out till 12th of July. Time is a big factor here therefore research time has been estimated to be about 4 weeks which is allocated to collect the primary data through interviews for organisation and to analyse it. From the second week of July, next task will be done by travelling to India to collect the information required to complete the research. Final two weeks from the second week to the third week of August will be given for review of the research and findings and relate it to the literature available it and writing the dissertation. In addition researcher will be consulting with the allocated supervisor through regular meetings and discussion. The last week of August will be allocated to completion and final review of the dissertation to ensure that it is presented well.


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