Vol. 44, No. 3
A Conceptual Understanding of Requirements for Theory-Building Research: Guidelines for Scientific Theory Building (invited paper)
Business academics have focused their attention on empirical investigation of programs' effect on organizational competitive performance. These studies primarily emphasize theory building. With the many definitions of theory, academics are not certain whether their research papers meet the specific requirements for theory development required by the academic field of the philosophy of science. Certainly, supply chain academics generally believe that their academic articles fulfill the requirements of theory building. Although many of these articles do have elements of theory, more focus is needed on the specific requirements of theory to assure that academic research is "good" theory building. The primary purpose of this research paper is to logically develop a set of guidelines to assist empirical researchers to assure that their studies fulfill the requirements of good theory based upon traditional scientific theory building. By fulfilling the requirements of good theory, researchers will develop studies that will have a lasting impact on their academic field. To achieve a lasting impact on an academic field, it is necessary to follow a logical plan. This article provides a plan for logical guidelines for developing an understanding of how and why "good" theory building is achieved. This article logically develops a formal conceptual definition of theory along with its related properties to understand these guidelines. Next, it analyzes the requirements of theory, "good" theory, and their properties. These guidelines are included in the existing philosophy of science publications. However, this article consolidates these sources and logically explains why these guidelines are needed. In the conclusion, the guidelines are summarized to serve as a summary checklist for supply chain researchers to use for ensuring their articles will be recognized as a contribution to the academic field.
John G. Wacker, Ph.D., is a Visiting Professor of Supply Chain Management at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
The Application of Industrial Organization Economics to Supply Chain Management Research (invited note)
Economics is a powerful discipline, with the potential for rich contributions to the younger, newer business school disciplines. This article first discusses the different ways economics can influence a business school discipline, followed by perspectives on the field of supply chain management. The core sections of the paper are, first, the influence of economics on supply chain management through empirical methods, and second, the influence of economics on supply chain through theories.
Curtis M. Grimm, Ph.D., is Dean's Professor of Supply Chain and Strategy at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.
The Information Technology Capability of Third-Party Logistics Providers: A Resource-Based View and Empirical Evidence from China
Third-party logistics (3PL) providers have become important players in global supply chain management as increasing numbers of firms are outsourcing their logistics activities. However, the role of the information technology (IT) capability of these 3PL providers has not drawn much research attention. The way in which 3PL providers develop IT capability and how IT capability affects their competitive advantage deserve further investigation. This study has developed and tested a research model to address these issues. By integrating the concept of technology orientation from the strategic orientation literature into the resource-based theory, we investigate both the antecedents and the consequences of IT capability among 3PL providers. The model was tested using survey data collected from 105 3PL firms in China. The results show that technology orientation has a significant impact on resource commitment to IT and managerial involvement in developing IT capability of 3PL firms. It also indicates that IT capability significantly affects three important dimensions of the competitive advantage of these firms, namely, reducing costs, providing innovative and customized services, and improving service quality. This study is one of the first to adopt the resource-based perspective to investigate IT capability issues in the 3PL industry. It provides valuable insights for 3PL managers, and emphasizes the importance of technology orientation in the development of strong IT capability among 3PL firms.
Fujun Lai, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the School of Accounting and Management Information Systems at the University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, Mississippi,
Dahui Li, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, Minnesota,
Qiang Wang, Ph.D., is Professor in the School of International Trade and Economics at the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing (China) and
Xiande Zhao, Ph.D., is Professor of Operations Management in the Department of Decision Sciences and Managerial Economics/Director of the Center for Supply Chain Management and Logistics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (China).
Building a Corporate Supply Function
The chief purchasing officer (CPO) plays a critical role in ensuring supply contributes effectively to organizational goals and strategies. The selection of the individual who will become the company's first CPO is especially important. A reporting line establishment occurs at the same time as an appointment of a first CPO when a large organization centralizes a previously decentralized supply function. Using case-based methodology, this research in large North American and European organizations examined 26 appointments of the first CPO and corresponding reporting line establishments. Data collection and analysis covered six aspects: drivers, CPO background, reporting line, the key decision makers and influencers involved in the decision, tenure of the first CPO and tenure of the first reporting line. It was found that changes in corporate strategy accounted for nearly 80 percent of the first CPO appointments and the CEO had a major say in decisions related to who would be hired as the first CPO as well as his or her reporting line. Almost 30 percent of internally recruited CPOs did not have any supply experience. However, externally recruited CPOs always had supply experience, but did not necessarily come from a CPO position. The CPOs reported to a variety of different positions, with the CEO and VP shared services being the most popular. The average tenure for the first CPO was more than one year longer than his or her reporting line. The potential implications for supply executives are explored. Opportunities for future research are also identified.
P. Fraser Johnson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Operations Management at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario (Canada) and
Michiel R. Leenders, D.B.A. is the Leenders Purchasing Management Association of Canada Chair and Professor Emeritus/Director of the Ivey Purchasing Managers' Index at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario (Canada).
Interpersonal Trust Formation during the Supplier Selection Process: The Role of the Communication Channel
This study investigates business-to-business interpersonal trust formation (trust that develops between boundary spanning individuals from different organizations) during the price determination stage of the supplier selection process. We first investigate whether trust can form at this stage. Then we examine two factors that may affect trust formation: the communication channel employed by the buyer and the amount of complexity involved in the purchase. Hypotheses are tested with a behavioral experiment (N5117) comparing three communication media (face-to-face, email, and Internet reverse auctions) and two levels of procurement complexity. Results show that trust formation does occur at the price determination stage; however, the degree to which trust grows depends on the communication channel employed and on the level of procurement complexity. Our study enhances managerial understanding of the possibility of developing (or eroding) trust early in the buyer-seller relationship, and it sheds light on the appropriateness of various supplier selection tools under various conditions. In addition, this research contributes to the supply chain management field by complementing the existing trust literature which typically focuses on inter-organizational trust that is formed or eroded later in the supply relationship.
Xiaowen Huang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Supply Chain and Operations Management in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio,
Thomas F. Gattiker, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University, Boise, Idaho and
Joshua L. Schwarz, Ph.D., is Professor of Management in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.