Complementary theories to supply chain management revisited – from borrowing theories to theorizing
Journal article, 2015
Purpose Supply chain management (SCM) suffers as well as benefits from a ‘conceptual slack’. The aim of this paper is to identify ways by which the theorizing of SCM takes place, with particular attention to complementary theories. Design/methodology/approach The nature of SCM is discussed, and the role and relevance of theorizing is addressed by using key characteristics of ‘academic scholarship’ based on a literature review of SCM and evaluation of application of theory and theory development. Findings The integrative and multi-layered nature of SCM sets the conditions for ‘theorizing SCM’ that can take place through various forms: theory application, new theoretical combinations, and sensitivity to managerial practice. It is pivotal that future research explore further the performative potential of SCM. Research limitations/implications Research with focus on theory development or using complementary theories to advancing understanding of SCM can benefit from the five building blocks of theorizing SCM proposed in the paper. Practical implications Theoretical principles in SCM are not only used to describe practical problems, but also used to ‘produce the world’; supply chains can be seen as organizational units that act or consummate an action that delivers a particular performance. Originality/value We portray SCM sensitivity to managerial challenges by moving from borrowing to a more bilateral view on theorizing of SCM, reflecting the nature of SCM.
supply chain management