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"SUPPLY CHAIN ALLIANCES: RHETORIC AND REALITY"

Stanley E. Fawcett, Gregory M. Magnan, and Matthew W. McCarter

 

First Author :

Stanley E. Fawcett
Professor, Marriott School
Brigham Young University
668 TNRB
Provo, UT 84602
USA


Second Author :

Gregory M. Magnan
Associate Professor, Albers School of Business
Seattle University
Pigott 426
Seattle, WA 98122
USA


Third Author :

Matthew W. McCarter
Doctoral Candidate, University of Illinois
College of Business
202 Survey
1206 S. Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
USA

801-318-8740

mccartermatthew@yahoo.com

 
 
Abstract :
 
Supply chain management implies an increased reliance on closer buyer/supplier relationships. This study used a multi-method (survey and interview) approach to determine the nature of alliance management in modern supply chains. One point regarding the present status of alliance management in today’s supply chain world is clear—truly synergistic relationships are very rare. When asked to indicate the percent of their supply chain relationships that are true alliances, two responses were commonly heard. First, several managers quickly asked, “What do you mean by alliance?” This response revealed the fact that the word alliance is used to signify a wide range of relationship types. Second, many managers indicated a rather large percentage of relationships operate on an alliance basis. The interviewer then followed-up by defining an alliance as a collaborative or synergistic relationship that adds value above and beyond what is achievable through simple long-term contracts. When the definition of alliance was clarified and the emphasis was on “cooperatively working together” or “symbiotic relationships,” the managers inevitably adjusted their percentage dramatically downward. The end result was that the vast majority of the participants suggest that “synergistic working relationships” represent only a very small fraction of all supply chain relationships—typically 5 percent or less. Managers generally concurred that the distance between “preferred” supplier and “synergistic” alliance is quite large. A dozen alliance management tools and techniques emerged as somewhat important to absolutely essential to the development of synergistic alliance relationships.
 
 
Keywords :
 
Alliance, Human Resource Management, Network, Supply Chain
 
 
Footnotes & Acknowledgements :
 
***Please do not circulate*** Author will gladly email updated versions of the paper with citation information upon request.
 
 
Manuscript Received : 2005
Manuscript Published : 2005
 
 
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