Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of configuration on supply network capability. It was believed that a configuration perspective might provide new insights on the capability and performance of supply networks, a gap in the literature, and provide a basis for the development of tools to aid their analysis and design. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology involved the development of a configuration definition and mapping approach extending established strategic and firm level constructs to the network operational level. The resulting tools were tested and refined in a series of case studies across a range of sectors and value chain models. Supply network capability assessments, from the perspective of the focal firm, were then compared with their configuration profiles. Findings – The configuration mapping tools were found to give new insights into the structure of supply networks and allow comparisons to be made across sectors and business models through the use of consistent and quantitative methods and common presentation. They provide the foundations for linking configuration to capability and performance, and contribute to supply network design and development by highlighting the intrinsic capabilities associated with different configurations. Research limitations/implications – Although multiple case networks have been investigated, the configuration exemplars remain suggestive models. The research suggests that a re‐evaluation of operational process excellence models is needed, where the link between process maturity and performance may require a configuration context. Practical implications – Advantages of particular configurations have been identified with implications for supply network development and industrial policy. Originality/value – The paper seeks to develop established strategic management configuration concepts to the analysis and design of supply networks by providing a robust operational definition of supply network configuration and novel tools for their mapping and assessment.
International Journal of Operations & Production Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 25, 2008
Keywords: Supply; Network operating systems; Configuration management; Supply chain management