Postponement strategy from a supply chain perspective: cases from China

by Jeff Hoi Yan Yeung, Willem Selen, Zhou Deming, Zhang Min
International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management ()


This research widens the scope of the use of postponement by addressing how the generic supply chain structure and information sharing/relationship among supply chain actors affects the postponement decision, based on empirical data of Chinese manufacturers in the Pearl River Delta. Case analysis, cross-case comparisons, semi-structured interviews. A cross-case analysis including study of the downstream structure, downstream relationship, upstream structure, upstream relationship, production method and inventory position produced a postponement classification into five categories: balanced structure without customer information; customer dominated; manufacturer dominated; balanced structure with loose suppliers, and finally virtual supply chain. Based on this classification, two propositions are postulated: when a supply chain has a balanced structure, it should use speculation or production postponement. When the supply chain has an unbalanced structure, it should use purchasing postponement or product development postponement.

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