Supply Chain Relationship Management in International Manufacturing: An Investigation at Country, Industry and Firm Levels
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Supply chain management professionals are required to make decisions in an increasingly complex and connected global environment. The pace of growth in international trade has fueled an operations and supply chain management evolution, which is built on strategic purchasing, sourcing from emerging markets, virtual networks and cross-cultural inter-firm linkages. Firms are progressively considering, planning and implementing network forms of organization, in a quest for a sustainable competitive advantage. While much work has been accomplished in the domain of supply chain integration, this dissertation contributes through the investigation of hitherto untested hypotheses, based on a large-scale international manufacturing data set. National, industry and firm level variables, as well as economic indicators, legal and political characteristics are part of the analysis and evaluation. The data required for all three investigations stems from the Global Manufacturing Research Group (GMRG). This multinational group of researchers, which the author is a part of, continued to collect data from manufacturing firms since 1986, to study contemporary operations and supply chain management topics (Whybark, Wacker, & Sheu, 2009). The reach of this project is manifested through at least thirty-seven peer-reviewed journal articles, which were published based on this dataset in the period between 2011 and 2015 (Appendix 3.1). This dissertation consists of three essays: The first essay examines the moderating effects of Hofstede and GLOBE national culture scores on the effectiveness of supply chain integration investments across a sample of manufacturing plants in fourteen countries. Hierarchical linear models were used with delivery performance and financial performance as dependent variables. A second set of tests added four country-level variables in line with the CAGE framework, to assess possible effects above and beyond national culture. The results confirm that investments in supply chain integration with customers and suppliers have an overall positive impact on delivery and financial performance. The country-level differences in the relationship between process integration investments and performance could be partially explained by the GLOBE national culture dimensions, but not by the Hofstede dimensions. The results show that supply chain integration may be mostly affected by the GLOBE national culture dimensions of uncertainty avoidance and future orientation. Further investigations using the CAGE framework variables show that beyond the GLOBE cultural dimensions, additional national distance indicators such as linguistic distance, the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Logistics Performance Index and the Human Development Index, do not explain variation to a significant extent. The second essay investigates the cultural antecedents of collaboration to identify critical factors affecting delivery performance and financial performance of supply chains. These relationships are tested across cultures in an international context, with a view to assess the robustness of past and new findings. Structural analysis with both covariance and partial least squares-based estimation methods was conducted, with information sharing, trustworthiness and shared values as the three cultural antecedents for collaboration. An overall positive relationship was established across cultures between the three antecedents and delivery as well as financial performance. Subsequent moderation analysis showed that information sharing has an indirect link to performance, statistically mediated by trustworthiness. In addition, an extensive multigroup analysis using moderators at the internal (e.g.: production type), industry (e.g.: dynamic vs. static, product life cycle) and international level (e.g.: emerging vs. advanced economies, proportion of foreign sourcing) provides detailed insights. For instance, shared values gain importance in more dynamic industrial environments, external collaboration appears to pay off especially for firms with one-of-a-kind products, and the link between collaborative satisfaction and financial performance is on average stronger for firms in emerging economies. These comprehensive empirical results provide a valuable understanding of existing collaborative relationships, and demonstrate that internal and external contexts should inform the design of inter-firm relationships. The third essay reviews methods to study the long-term temporal effects of supply chain management practices that are not captured in cross-sectional studies. Many researchers tend to call for longitudinal research when concluding operations management studies, yet there is still a dearth of longitudinal research. An overview of panel, repeated cross-sectional and other survey designs was provided, including a discussion of survey features, advantages and disadvantages. This discussion has been missing from the operations management literature. The study also examines existing large-scale operations management survey efforts for applicability of time based operations management research. Analytical methods typically used in sociology and political science disciplines are identified and applied, with a focus on repeated cross-sectional analysis in the operations management context. We introduce options for analysis of repeated-cross sectional data, discuss findings based on 30 years of data, and provide survey recommendations to enable future longitudinal research.