Supply Chain Management and Corporate Geography

 

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  • Haavisto, Ira (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014)
    The goals of humanitarian organizations are to save lives, decrease human suffering, and contribute to development. However, humanitarian response has been criticized for its lack of positive impact on the societies receiving aid, or more precisely, for the lack of the effectiveness of the aid. Discussion of the effectiveness of aid has seemingly been incorporated at the operational level as focus on cost and time efficiency. However, efficiency considerations have been criticized because they can lead to oversight of other considerations, such as sustainability. Humanitarian practitioners have started paying attention to measuring their performance. Measuring the performance of humanitarian operations, however, can be cumbersome, due to the complexity of the operating environment, which has limited data accessibility and multiple actors involved. This thesis’ overall aim is to analyze how supply chain performance is understood in the humanitarian context. The research questions are deliberated on in four essays. Each essay has a different scope, ranging from an intra-organizational supply chain perspective to a macro perspective on country logistics performance. This thesis builds mainly on the literature about humanitarian supply chain and its performance measurement. To date, the performance literature in the humanitarian context has covered different performance measurement frameworks and suggested specific key performance indicators. However, it has not yet tackled the essence of performance measurement, which should be connected to the goal of the activity at hand and support learning and development.
  • Harilainen, Hanna-Riitta (Hanken School of Economics, 2014)
    Supply chains are increasingly global, often reaching to developing regions. The media pressure brand owners to be responsible, but a product is only as sustainable as the practices of all the companies involved in manufacturing it are. It’s not enough that the brand owner acts responsibly; sustainable practices have to reach component and raw material suppliers upstream. Image risk has often been recognized as reason for investing in sustainability. In the supply chain context, supplier misconduct also presents a supply risk. Smooth flow of goods is at stake. Examples of this are strikes and the breaking of environmental laws that cause line stops at supplier factories. These realized supplier sustainability risks seldom receive media attention or reach consumer consciousness; however, they potentially cause challenges in availability and supply. The sophistication of supplier sustainability risk management varies by company, and managers are often unaware of its enablers. The topic of supplier sustainability risks is not yet sufficiently addressed in the literature, despite its increasing importance. This research utilizes grounded theory methodology, an inductive approach in which theory is seen as emerging from the data. The chosen methodology particularly suits situations where the subject area has not yet been studied and can give fresh insights. Empirical data were gathered from the managers of six Finnish multinational companies, and the perceptions of the interviewed supply chain and sustainability managers were used to relate the findings at the company level. The key finding of this study is the importance of supply risk as a potential driver for investments in supplier sustainability. A company’s supply chain strategies are linked to its vulnerability to incidents in the supply chain, while the sophistication of sourcing practices is linked to the vulnerability to outcome of such incidents. A company’s position in the supply chain drives risk focus on reputational risk and/or supply risk and sourcing’s incentive structure together with risk awareness drive the proactive or reactive management of supplier sustainability risk. This research contributes to both supply chain risk management and sustainable supply chain management literature. Managers can utilize the framework to understand when proactive supplier sustainability risk management makes sense and what its enablers are.
  • Tomasini Ponce, Rolando Mario (Hanken School of Economics, 2012)
    Disasters challenge and destroy growth and socio-economic achievements. They are often communicated in the media with heartbreaking images of suffering, destruction and despair. They tend to inspire a wave of generosity and compassion among those who feel vulnerable, concerned, touched. Individuals manifest their solidarity through donations, collections and by sending money, goods, foods, medicines, and other essential items. Like individuals, companies are increasingly moved to act upon their sense of compassion and generosity, and contribute with skills, capacity, and of course money. These initiatives are welcomed by employees who are ready to put their knowledge and expertise to the benefit of the greater good, on behalf of the company. When a natural disaster takes place, humanitarian organizations activate all their response mechanisms to assess and respond as quickly as possible to the rising needs. However, everything is uncertain, and only time can provide the answers as information becomes available about the level of impact, the number of people affected, the resources available and the type and length of aid required. Among the difficulties faced by humanitarian organization is getting access overnight to trained and available staff who could implemented such sophisticated and life-saving logistics. This thesis takes a look at the secondments from different companies to disaster relief operations. It develops a framework for informal learning during secondments which can be used by managers to ensure that the secondment can be a fruitful learning experience for the seconded manager, in which he or she can further their knowledge by applying their skills set in a different context. Through the development of the framework, and the three essays, the thesis addresses three main questions: 1. How do partnerships develop in disaster relief operations? (Essay 1) 2. How do partners interact during a disaster relief operation? (Essay 2) 3. What can seconded managers learn from secondments to disaster relief operations? (Essay 3)
  • Antai, Imoh (2011)
    Competition is an immensely important area of study in economic theory, business and strategy. It is known to be vital in meeting consumers’ growing expectations, stimulating increase in the size of the market, pushing innovation, reducing cost and consequently generating better value for end users, among other things. Having said that, it is important to recognize that supply chains, as we know it, has changed the way companies deal with each other both in confrontational or conciliatory terms. As such, with the rise of global markets and outsourcing destinations, increased technological development in transportation, communication and telecommunications has meant that geographical barriers of distance with regards to competition are a thing of the past in an increasingly flat world. Even though the dominant articulation of competition within management and business literature rests mostly within economic competition theory, this thesis draws attention to the implicit shift in the recognition of other forms of competition in today’s business environment, especially those involving supply chain structures. Thus, there is popular agreement within a broad business arena that competition between companies is set to take place along their supply chains. Hence, management’s attention has been focused on how supply chains could become more aggressive making each firm in its supply chain more efficient. However, there is much disagreement on the mechanism through which such competition pitching supply chain against supply chain will take place. The purpose of this thesis therefore, is to develop and conceptualize the notion of supply chain vs. supply chain competition, within the discipline of supply chain management. The thesis proposes that competition between supply chains may be carried forward via the use of competition theories that emphasize interaction and dimensionality, hence, encountering friction from a number of sources in their search for critical resources and services. The thesis demonstrates how supply chain vs. supply chain competition may be carried out theoretically, using generated data for illustration, and practically using logistics centers as a way to provide a link between theory and corresponding practice of this evolving competition mode. The thesis concludes that supply chain vs. supply chain competition, no matter the conceptualization taken, is complex, novel and can be very easily distorted and abused. It therefore calls for the joint development of regulatory measures by practitioners and policymakers alike, to guide this developing mode of competition.
  • Solitander, Nikodemus (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2011)
    The thesis focuses on one of the most dominant articulations of the relation between geographical place and development, clusters - internationally competing place-bound economic system of production in related industries. The dominant articulation of cluster discourse represents the subnational region as a system of production, and as a means for competitiveness for Western countries. Its reproduction in theories has become one of the most prolific exports of economic geography to other disciplines and for policymaking. By analysing cluster discourse the thesis traces how the languages and processes of globalization have over time altered the understandings of the relation between geographical place and the economy. It shows how in its latest incarnation of the cluster discourse, the language of mainstream economics is combined with ‘softer’ elements (e.g. community, learning, creativity) in the economic geographic discourse. This is typical for the idea of soft capitalism, wherein it is assumed that economic success emanates from soft characteristics, such as knowledge, learning and creativity, rather than straightforward technological or cost advantages. A reoccurring critique against the dominant understanding of the relationship between competitiveness and regions, as articulated in cluster discourse, has pinpointed the perspective’s inability to reconcile the respective and reciprocal roles of local standard of living with firm competitiveness. The thesis traces how such critique is increasingly appropriated through the fusion of the economic, social and cultural landscape into the language of capitalism. It shows how cluster discourse has appropriated its critique, by focusing on creativity, with its strong associations to arts, individual artists and the cultural sphere in general, while predominantly creating its meaning in relation to competitiveness. The thesis consists of six essays that each outlines the development of the cluster discourse. The essays show how meaning systems and strategies are created, accepted and naturalized in cluster discourse, how this affects individuals, the economic landscape and society at large, as well as showing which understandings are marginalized in the process. The thesis argues that clusters are a) inseparable from ideology and politics and b) they are the result of purposeful social practice. It calls for increased reflexivity within corporate and economic geographic research on clusters, and underlines the importance of placing issues of power at the centre of analysis.
  • Fougère, Martin (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2005)
    Research on cross-cultural and intercultural aspects in organizations has been traditionally conducted from an objectivist, functionalist perspective, with culture treated as an independent variable, and often the key explanatory factor. In order to do justice to the ontological relativity of the phenomena studied, more subjectivist research on intercultural interactions, and especially on their relationships with the dynamics of cultural identity construction, is needed. The present research seeks to address this gap by focusing on bicultural interactions in organizations, as they are experienced by the involved individuals. It is argued that such bicultural situations see the emergence of a space of hybridity, which is here called a ‘third space’, and which can be understood as providing ‘occasions for sensemaking’: it is this individual sensemaking that is of particular interest in the empirical narrative study. A first overall aim of the study is to reach an understanding of the dynamics of bicultural interactions in organizations; an understanding not only of the potential for learning and emancipatory sensemaking, but also of the possibility of conflict and alienatory ordering (this is mainly addressed in the theoretical essays 1 and 2). Further, a second overall aim of the study is to analyze the reflexive identity construction of four young French expatriates involved in such bicultural interactions in organizations in Finland, in order to examine the extent to which their expatriation experiences have allowed for an emancipatory opportunity in their cases (in essays 3 and 4). The primary theoretical contribution in this study lies in its new articulation of the dynamics of bicultural interactions in organizations. The ways in which the empirical material is analyzed bring about methodological contributions: since the expatriates’ accounts are bound to be some kind of construction, the analysis is made from angles that point to how the self-narratives construct reality. There are two such angles here: a ‘performative’ one and a ‘spatial’ one. The most important empirical contributions lie in the analysis of, on the one hand, the alternative uses that the young expatriates made of the notion of ‘national culture’ in their self-narratives, and, on the other hand, their ‘narrative practices of the third space’: their politics of escape or stabilization, their exploration of space or search for place, their emancipation from their origin or return to home as only horizon.
  • Kovács, Gyöngyi (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2006)
    Research on corporate responsibility has traditionally focused on the responsibilities of companies within their corporate boundaries only. Yet this view is challenged today as more and more companies face the situation in which the environmental and social performance of their suppliers, distributors, industry or other associated partners impacts on their sales performance and brand equity. Simultaneously, policy-makers have taken up the discussion on corporate responsibility from the perspective of globalisation, in particular of global supply chains. The category of selecting and evaluating suppliers has also entered the field of environmental reporting. Companies thus need to tackle their responsibility in collaboration with different partners. The aim of the thesis is to further the understanding of collaboration and corporate environmental responsibility beyond corporate boundaries. Drawing on the fields of supply chain management and industrial ecology, the thesis sets out to investigate inter-firm collaboration on three different levels, between the company and its stakeholders, in the supply chain, and in the demand network of a company. The thesis is comprised of four papers: Paper A discusses the use of different research approaches in logistics and supply chain management. Paper B introduces the study on collaboration and corporate environmental responsibility from a focal company perspective, looking at the collaboration of companies with their stakeholders, and the salience of these stakeholders. Paper C widens this perspective to an analysis on the supply chain level. The focus here is not only beyond corporate boundaries, but also beyond direct supplier and customer interfaces in the supply chain. Paper D then extends the analysis to the demand network level, taking into account the input-output, competitive and regulatory environments, in which a company operates. The results of the study broaden the view of corporate responsibility. By applying this broader view, different types of inter-firm collaboration can be highlighted. Results also show how environmental demand is extended in the supply chain regardless of the industry background of the company.
  • Vainionpää, Mikael M. (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2010)
    This doctoral dissertation takes a buy side perspective to third-party logistics (3PL) providers’ service tiering by applying a linear serial dyadic view to transactions. It takes its point of departure not only from the unalterable focus on the dyad levels as units of analysis and how to manage them, but also the characteristics both creating and determining purposeful conditions for a longer duration. A conceptual framework is proposed and evaluated on its ability to capture logistics service buyers’ perceptions of service tiering. The problem discussed is in the theoretical context of logistics and reflects value appropriation, power dependencies, visibility in linear serial dyads, a movement towards the more market governed modes of transactions (i.e. service tiering) and buyers’ risk perception of broader utilisation of the logistics services market. Service tiering, in a supply chain setting, with the lack of multilateral agreements between supply chain members, is new. The deductive research approach applied, in which theoretically based propositions are empirically tested with quantitative and qualitative data, provides new insight into (contractual) transactions in 3PL. The study findings imply that the understanding of power dependencies and supply chain dynamics in a 3PL context is still in its infancy. The issues found include separation of service responsibilities, supply chain visibility, price-making behaviour and supply chain strategies under changing circumstances or influence of non-immediate supply chain actors. Understanding (or failing to understand) these issues may mean remarkable implications for the industry. Thus, the contingencies may trigger more open-book policies, larger liability scope of 3PL service providers or insourcing of critical logistics activities from the first-tier buyer core business and customer service perspectives. In addition, a sufficient understanding of the issues surrounding service tiering enables proactive responses to devise appropriate supply chain strategies. The author concludes that qualitative research designs, facilitating data collection on multiple supply chain actors, may capture and increase understanding of the impact of broader supply chain strategies. This would enable pattern-matching through an examination of two or more sides of exchange transactions to measure relational symmetries across linear serial dyads. Indeed, the performance of the firm depends not only on how efficiently it cooperates with its partners, but also on how well exchange partners cooperate with an organisation’s own business.