Vol. 49, No. 1
Behavioral Operations Management: A Blind Spot and a Research Program
Behavioral operations management, or simply behavioral operations (BOps), aims at understanding the decision-making of managers and at using this understanding in order to generate interventions that improve the operations of the supply chain. To do so, BOps imports knowledge from a number of fields such as economics, psychology and other social and behavioral sciences. We point out a blind spot in this knowledge: In BOps, the heuristics that people use typically, though not always, are viewed as a liability. The issue with this view is that it does not explain when and in what way heuristics can be an asset. We propose, as a research program for BOps, uncovering the conditions under which the heuristics that supply chain managers use are an asset, as well as the conditions under which they are a liability. We briefly discuss some research on heuristics in BOps and show how the study of quantitative models of heuristics can complement it.
Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist in the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, GERMANY; and
Gerd Gigerenzer, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and also of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, in Berlin, GERMANY.
Who's Seeking Whom? Coalition Behavior of a Weaker Player in Buyer-Supplier Relationships
Our intent with this research is to articulate propositions for coalition-building behaviors involving the weaker player in a buyer-supplier relationship. The context of our study begins in dyads, but grows into triads as coalitions are formed. We consider coalition formation arising from power asymmetry in dyadic buyer-supplier relationships. However, when a weaker player pairs up with another player, the context of our study becomes triads (i.e., buyer-supplier-supplier or buyer-buyer-supplier). On the basis of coalition theory, we identify three archetypes and then formulate four coalition conditions under each archetype. Each coalition condition, framed in a supply network triad, constitutes a finding. For instance, we propose that a supplier in a weaker power position in a buyer-supplier-supplier triad would try to create a coalition with another supplier to gain leverage against a common buyer. According to coalition theory, it does not matter whether this new supplier has more or less power compared with the old supplier, as long as their coalition collectively yields more power than the buyer. By the same token, two buyers would create a coalition to gain leverage against a common supplier if their coalition collectively yields more power than the supplier. Furthermore, the buyer would create a coalition with a second-tier supplier if the buyer is in a weaker power position compared with the first-tier supplier and their coalition would yield more power against the first-tier supplier. This study marks one of the first attempts at formally theorizing the weaker player in the buyer-supplier relationship. It also marks the first attempt at applying coalition theory to supply chain dynamics and it extends emerging work in supply network triads.
Marko Bastl, Ph.D., is a research fellow at the Cranfield School of Management in Cranfield, England (United Kingdom),
Thomas Y. Choi, Ph.D., is professor of supply chain management and the Bob Herberger Arizona Heritage Chair at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona; and
Mark Johnson, EngD, is a principal research fellow at the Cranfield School of Management in Cranfield, England (United Kingdom).
Factor-Market Rivalry and Competition for Supply Chain Resources
Organizations monitor factor-markets for strategic inputs that directly contribute to the firms' unique advantage. Thus, managers may be unaware of essential supporting inputs that bundle with strategic inputs to sustain the organization's success. Increasingly, supply chain resources are part of that strategic bundle of resources essential for achieving the firm's competitive advantage. This research employs a conceptual theory building approach to examine competition among diverse industries in factor-markets using the example of supply chain services and the relatively new lens of factor-market rivalry theory (FMR). Data relative to air cargo capacity in China, port capacity in South Vietnam, and the U.S. port and rail system provide the context for theoretical and practical insights into the implications of factor-market rivalry on firm performance.
Lisa M. Ellram, Ph.D., is the James Evans Rees Distinguished Professor of Distribution in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,
Wendy L. Tate, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of logistics in the Department of Marketing and Logistics at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee; and
Edward G. Feitzinger is an Executive Vice President, and President of Global Contract Logistics and Distribution, for UTi Worldwide, Inc., based in Road Town, British Virgin Islands.
A Meta-Analysis of Logistics Service Performance
Logistics customer service has received considerable attention over the past several decades. Evidence exists that superior logistics customer service leads to better overall firm performance. Yet mixed findings were observed, and this relationship has been tested across multiple operationalizations and diverse industry settings, which may contribute to these mixed findings. There is thus a need for a systematic analysis that examines all of the prior evidence in an aggregate inquiry of logistics customer service. Meta-analysis, which is a relatively under-utilized methodology in supply chain management research, is applied to provide a quantitative examination of 37 sample studies and an assessment of overall population effects. The main contribution of this research is that we statistically aggregate and summarize existing research on logistics customer service and are able to draw generalizable conclusions. In addition, moderators that affect the relationship between logistics customer service and firm performance are examined. The results provide evidence that logistics customer service has a significant positive relationship with firm performance. Several moderators are tested and areas in need of additional research are described.
Rudolf Leuschner, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of supply Chain Management and Marketing Sciences,
François Charvet, Ph.D., is a logistics network strategist at Staples, Inc. and a former faculty member at Northeastern University; and
Dale S. Rogers, Ph.D., is a professor of logistics and supply chain management, and a Co-Director of the Center for Supply Chain Management, at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.
Reducing Behavioral Constraints to Supplier Integration: A Socio-Technical Systems Perspective
Literature fails to fully explain why supplier integration (SI), which is generally viewed as a beneficial competitive strategy, is often only done in a limited way. Typically, technical complications are offered as reasons, yet such a micro perspective lacks a macro view that encompasses the social, technical, and environmental issues involved. This conceptual paper uses socio-technical systems (STS) theory to view supplier integration as a technical attempt to merge two distinct socio-technical systems. By taking this view, we challenge the assumptions that SI is beneficial and that the purchasing function will be supportive of SI. We introduce four concepts that help explain why the state of SI is limited: Purchasing/supply management (PSM) social status, buyer-supplier social change, socially-based SI choices, and novel supply variation. Yet we also use STS theory to propose contingencies that mitigate such limitations. By extending socio-technical systems theory to the interorganizational context, we contribute to SI research by offering a more holistic view of SI and by proposing ways managers can understand the challenges that exist in the process of SI.
Thomas J. Kull, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of supply chain management in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona,
Scott C. Ellis, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of supply chain management at the Gatton College of Business & Economics at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky; and
Ram Narasimhan, Ph.D., is the John H. McConnell Endowed Professor of Business Administration, and a University Distinguished Professor, at the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
Supplier Integration and NPD Outcomes: Conditional Moderation Effects of Modular Design Competence
Integrating suppliers into new product development (NPD) projects offers manufacturers the potential for substantial improvements in the new product being designed. However, it also creates significant inter-organizational diseconomies that can negatively affect the manufacturing cost and performance of the designed product. We propose that these diseconomies can be reduced to the extent that the manufacturer is able to design modular products — i.e., it has a modular design competence (MDC). We also suggest that such an effect tends to become weaker for high levels of product and process innovation. We test our hypotheses on an international sample of 165 NPD projects using hierarchical linear regression. Our results provide support for the moderation effect of MDC and partial support for the weakening of this effect under high product and process innovation. We discuss the implications for the literature of buyer-supplier relationships in NPD, inter-firm modularity and product-process-supply chain design, as well as practice.
Fabrizio Salvador, Ph.D., is a professor of operations management at the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain; and
Veronica H. Villena, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of supply chain and information systems in the Smeal Business School at the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania.