Does supply chain visibility enhance agility?

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Abstract

Agility is a major preoccupation for both supply chain managers and academic researchers in supply chain management. Yet, many questions remain unanswered about how best to achieve this operational capability. We study supply chain agility using the dynamic capabilities approach within the resource based-view of the firm, positioning ourselves from the vantage point of the supply chain manager. A survey of 171 French supply chain managers is undertaken and the results are analysed using factor analysis and a structural equation model. We provide insights by mapping the relationships between different managerial resources and processes and agility. These processes are grouped into three lower order capabilities: external, visibility, and internal processes. We show that external and internal managerial processes enhance agility. However, supply chain agility is not enhanced when managerial processes related to visibility are applied. Processes enhancing visibility across the chain, reliant on integrating Enterprise Resource planning and other software, tracking and tracing, reporting tools and web collaborative platforms, which other research pointed out as supporting agility, are found to be without influence on agility. On the other hand, external and internal capabilities are shown to enhance agility. We contend that some higher level processes and routines not included in the survey may explain the difference. Managerial insights and further avenues of research are presented.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Agility
  • Empirical research
  • Supply chain
  • Visibility

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