InImpact: The Journal of Innovation Impact

Publisher Future Technology Press
Vol. 7 No. 2 KES Transactions on SDM I - Sustainable Design and Manufacturing 2014
Volume Editors KES International
Journal ISSN 2051-6002
Article TitleThe Supply Chain as a Complex Evolving System
Primary AuthorChristopher Lee, Senior Lecturer
Other Author(s) V Stephens; J Barrett
Pages 796 - 811
Article ID sdm14-049
Publication Date 01-May-16
AbstractThe overriding aim of this paper is “to illustrate the supply chain as a complex adaptive system”, through a critically reflection of the dominant discourse of management theories and in the context of supply chains. The paper challenges the view that hegemonic universalisation of interests in the role of ‘professional supply chain management’ attempts to achieve control, certainty, and complete information to manage and inevitably this constrains human active systems, such as supply chains. The notion of supply chain as a human active system is presented and this challenges the belief that traditional supply chain management cannot always achieve complete control and certainty. The quest for completeness and control may become counter-intuitive to support these types of human networks, hindering adaption, co-evolution and consequently the emergence of optimal levels of value, democratic leadership, trust, innovation and creativity within the continual sustainable development of such systems.

This discussion reveals the theoretical position of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) within a human active system / supply chain, therefore, “illustrating how the supply chain operates effectively as a complex adaptive system”. Consequently, two apparently contrasting viewpoints for supply chain management are presented, which in reality, appear to be struggling to operate simultaneously. The conclusions drawn are that traditional managerialism can be counter-intuitive for supply chains, whilst CAS supply chains are emasculating and emancipatory in nature.

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