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  • 1.
    Hulthén, Hana
    Lund University.
    A model of contextual factors and inter-organizational integration: A Ground Theory study of two supply chains2013Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to understanding of the effect of organizational context on supply chain integration. One result is a context- based model that can provide support for practitioners regarding what level of integration to establish with suppliers and customers.

    Given the notion that most organizations are dependent on other organizations, it leads to a need for not only cross-functional integration but also for integration across organizational boundaries. However, in many organizations the level of integration with suppliers and customers is often inappropriate, inefficient and limited mainly to dyadic integration of order processing and operational scheduling. The existing literature provides only a limited insight concerning the essential circumstances for the integration and the slow growth of the implementation of inter-organizational integration has been attributed primarily to lack of guidelines for creating business relationships with supply chain partners. In the literature, “the more integration the better performance” solutions have often been presented without consideration of very complex internal and external organizational environments of involved companies.

    During recent years, questions have been raised regarding the nature of integration with suppliers and customers and the extent to which it can be accomplished. Instead of all-encompassing integration, selectivity has been suggested in terms of what level of integration should be applied to each link of the supply chain. The problem for an organization is not to find “one best way”; rather it is to search for solutions that advance integration and differentiation simultaneously. Preferable level of integration depends on many contextual factors associated with e.g. focal company, industry, competitive environment, and nature and type of products. However, in the previous research the focus has primarily been on studying single or limited sets of contextual factors and their impact on integration. These results are often fragmented, leading to multiple frameworks and models. A unifying model providing recommendations in terms of what level of integration to establish with suppliers and customers considering organization’s specific circumstances is desirable. In this study, a large number of contextual factors of integration with suppliers and customers were identified and structured. Additionally, the relationship between these factors and level of the integration was clarified.

    The study is based on the Grounded Theory methodology. To understand the effect of context on level of integration, two supply chains (triads) from two different industries - medical devices and fast moving consumer goods - have been selected as core samples. Findings are based on in-depth analysis of qualitative data obtained from fourteen interviews with practitioners such as CEOs, SC managers, sales managers, purchasing managers, and logisticians. Following the Grounded Theory methodology, the analysis of the collected data was conducted in three major rounds divided into six steps. The results were compared with a theoretical frame of reference.

    The main result of this study is a model that describes the relationship between contextual factors and integration activities with suppliers and customers. The findings suggest that the assumption of a fit between context and integration of the Structural Contingency Theory is applicable also from an inter-organizational perspective. The model can be applied to contextual factors both external and internal to an organization. It is supplemented by structured lists of identified contextual factors and integration activities.

    Recalling the notion of fit between value of contextual factors and level of integration with suppliers and customers, it can be stated that even low levels of integration can be appropriate as long as they are consistent with the values of certain factors representing organizational context. Furthermore, the model adds to existing models and frameworks as it can be used as a diagnostic tool. Applying this model, an organization can evaluate if current levels of integration fit with the corresponding values of contextual factors. Furthermore, the model support identification of misfits between values of contextual factors and present level of integration and it provides an opportunity to adjust or reevaluate the current levels of integration. The model, in combination with the lists of contextual factors and integration activities, can then be used to develop corrective actions in order to regain the desired fit.

    Intention of this study was to identify and analyze integration of triads in the studied supply chains, commonly known as Supply chain integration. However, this scope of integration has not been found, which is in line with previous research indicating that triadic integration is rare. To reflect the actual situation in more accurate way it is suggested to use the term Inter-organizational integration, implying dyadic scope of integration, rather than Supply chain integration. 

  • 2.
    Hulthén, Hana
    Lund University.
    On understanding of external and internal integration in supply chains: challenges and evaluation2016Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Benefits of implementing Supply Chain Integration (SCI) are acknowledged in existing integration literature. Integration extending beyond functional silos and firm boundaries is expected to provide value for customers in terms of higher quality, improved service level, and reduced costs.In addition, internal integration allows business functions to align around a single company goal. This type of integration promotes value creation while decreasing redundancies and costs.

    Yet, regardless of the significant advances in research and practice, many organizations still experience difficulties not only to integrate activities with supply chain partners, but they also struggle to integrate activities within an organization, for example, through implementation of a sales and operations planning (S&OP) process.

    To tackle these challenges, organizations may need to reconsider why and how they integrate both internally and externally. However, the previous integration research provides only limited guidelines for how to carry out such evaluations. Many organizations experience difficulties in addressing the complexity related to integration and evaluation of activities internally and with SC partners. The lack of concrete guidelines for evaluation of SCI in theory is seen as one of the reasons for the still sporadic examples of successful SCI in practice.

    Thus, the overall purpose of this research is to increase understanding of external and internal integration in supply chains. To address the purpose, three studies (1-3) have been conducted. The study 1 highlighted the current status and several SCI challenges in academic literature and in practice. One of the major challenges relates to the absence of a systematic comprehensive approach for evaluation of internal and external integration. To contribute to closing of this gap, study 2 was conducted to develop a context based framework for evaluation of external integration. Finally, the subsequent study 3 aimed to develop a framework for evaluation of the S&OP process.

    Concerning the SCI challenges, this research contributes to previous integration literature by confirming some existing challenges but also by identifying additional challenges. Related to challenges of external integration, a set of contextual factors are identified which were observed to challenge the establishment of an appropriate level of external integration with SC partners. As a result a misfit occurs between the contextual factors and applied level of external integration. Additionally, reasons for the misfits were identified and discussed.

    Associated with the challenges of S&OP process, this thesis adds to existing fragmented literature on the S&OP process evaluation challenges by synthesizing and extending the existing knowledge. A framework has been developed which is founded on two key areas of process performance – S&OP process effectiveness and efficiency, and on various maturity levels of the process. Although several challenges were found for each maturity level, some challenges were observed occurring across more levels.

    Moreover, in this research, a context based framework for evaluation of external integration is proposed. The framework extends the previous SCI frameworks. It is founded on contextual factors which were considered by the studied cases when integrating with their SC partners. Furthermore, the factors were observed to promote establishment of an appropriate level of external integration. Each level consists of identified external integration activities.

    The thesis further contributes to the S&OP performance research by addressing the lack of process oriented frameworks for evaluation of the process performance. The proposed framework of measuring the S&OP process performance considers the five major steps of the process and their outputs as well as the output of the entire process. To reflect the process performance measures, the framework structures and defines effectiveness and efficiency measures and their relation to the process performance. The framework also conforms to the majority of the criteria for designing of appropriate performance measures.

    Finally, the major results of the thesis are synthesized and a framework is suggested of external integration and its effect on S&OP process performance. The framework considers the identified contextual factors, appropriate levels of external integration, and the S&OP performance measures the integration can have effect on. The thesis also discusses, alongside with the theoretical contributions, how the developed frameworks can support managers in evaluating their supply chain integration practices. Additionally, several opportunities for future research are outlined.

  • 3.
    Hulthén, Hana
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Näslund, Dag
    Lund University.
    Supply Chain Integration: A Grounded Theory Based Model of Contextual Factors2014In: NOFOMA 2014 : Competitiveness through Supply Chain Management and Global Logistics: June 11, 2014 – June 13, 2014, 2014Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Purpose - Despite of an extensive literature on external integration in supply chain, there are still issues both in theory and practice. The purpose of this research is thus to investigate contextual factors and their effect on external integration.

    Design/methodology/approach - The method used is Grounded Theory. Two supply chains were selected with different contexts.

    Findings – Eleven propositions were developed and visualized in two matrices. The first matric includes contextual factors that seem to promote establishment of an appropriate level of external integration such as high product quality requirements, long/ short lead time of raw materials and components, high/ low importance of suppliers and customers, high requirements on certification and validation, and high requirements on environmental sustainability of products and processes. The second matric illustrates contextual factors which might challenge suppliers to establish an appropriate level of external integration with customers. The factors are need for innovation of products, initial stage of relationship, distant channel position of key supplier from end-customer, high complexity of demand side, and high requirements on supplier’s flexibility.

    Research limitations/ implications – The propositions need to be tested through a large scale study.

    Practical implications – The result can assist practitioners in identification of situations in which implementation of an appropriate level of external integration might be challenging and can require an increased attention.

    Originality/values - This research adds to the external integration literature by identifying contextual factors that might promote and challenge external integration.

  • 4.
    Hulthén, Hana
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Näslund, Dag
    Lund University ; University of North Florida, USA.
    Norrman, Andreas
    Lund University.
    Challenges of Measuring the Sales and Operations Planning Process2017In: Operations and Supply Chain Management, ISSN 1979-3561, Vol. 10, no 1, p. 4-16Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­The purpose of this study is to identify and structure challenges of measuring performance of the Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process. A multiple case study methodology was applied. Qualitative data was collected via 22 structured interviews with managers from six case companies in various industries. A process oriented framework was proposed by structuring the challenges based on two key areas of process performance (effectiveness and efficiency) and different maturity levels of the process. A major challenge for all the cases, regardless of their maturity level, relates to defining of cross-functional trade-offs measures. Another major challenge was alignment of measures with business strategy and reward system. Additional common challenges for the different maturity levels were also found. While confirming some challenges from previous research, this study also finds new challenges, especially for more mature levels. Examples are standardization to support unbiased decision making, but also customization of measures for various organizational levels, and visualization of findings from the measurement to facilitate analysis. However, future research must validate and extend the results in other industries. The results offer challenges from a process oriented view and can serve as insights for managers when designing and implementing the S&OP process measures, or advancing from one maturity level to another. This research enhances understanding of the challenges to measure the S&OP process performance and adds to the S&OP literature and performance measurement literature. 

  • 5.
    Hulthén, Hana
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Näslund, Dag
    Lund University ; University of North Florida, USA.
    Norrman, Andreas
    Lund University.
    Framework for Measuring the Performance of the Sales and Operations Planning Process: A Multiple-case study2016In: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, ISSN 0960-0035, E-ISSN 1758-664X, Vol. 46, no 9, p. 809-835Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Purpose - The purpose is to develop a framework for measuring the S&OP process performance.

    Design/methodology/approach - The method used is a multiple case study of five companies from different industries based on data from twelve structured interviews.

    Findings – The main result is a framework to measure the S&OP process. It includes concrete suggestions for organizations when developing measures to increase effectiveness and efficiency of the process. It will also help organizations to standardize measures and to enhance organizational transparency. Our results include measures for every step of the process as well as for the outcome of the process. We highlight the importance of cross-functional measures along with measures that focus on how to conduct the process. The framework is founded on a set of criteria on appropriate measures such as comprehensiveness, internal process efficiency, horizontal and vertical integration, internal comparability, and usefulness. The study contributes to performance measurement literature and the S&OP literature.

    Research limitations/ implications - Validation of the framework is desirable in similar as well as other contexts. Implementation challenges should also be investigated.

    Practical implications – The framework provides guidelines in order to measure, analyze and improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of the process.

    Originality/values - This is the first framework for measuring the S&OP process that includes detailed measures for each step of the process, for the outcome of the process as well as how to conduct the process itself. 

  • 6.
    Hulthén, Hana
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Pazirandeh, Ala
    University of Gothenburg.
    Reasons for limited integration in highly interdependent buyer-supplier relationships: Insights from two cases2014In: 21st International Annual EurOMA Conference, Palermo, Italy, 20-25 June 2014: Operations Management in an Innovation Economy, 2014Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Theoretically, highly interdependent buyer-supplier relationships should yield high level of integration. However, several examples of limited integration in such relationships challenge this prediction. Yet, the reasons for this phenomenon have not been fully explored and understood. Thus, the aim of this paper is to identify and structure the possible reasons for why, despite theoretical predictions and potential performance benefits, some highly interdependent buyer-supplier relationships are not highly integrated. Two buyer-supplier cases representing this phenomenon are studied, one from medical technology industry and one from fast moving consumer goods industry. Both cases saw potential performance benefits for improved integration. By matching the findings from the cases with existing knowledge from extant literature, we propose a framework of reasons for limited buyer-supplier integration in highly interdependent relationships together with the possible consequences on performance. Alongside the reasons discussed in previous integration literature, we identified reasons such as high demand complexity and uncertainty, buyer´s expectation of supplier´s expertise, incompatibility of communication channels, and too far of a channel position to the end-customer. The reasons are grouped in four clusters such as skills and knowledge, relationship, transaction, and position in supply chain. As a result of these reasons the limited buyer-supplier integration includes low quality of demand information, deficiencies in internal integration and in cross-firm integration leading to inefficiencies in operations, innovations projects, and in administration at both actors. This framework can support managers in detecting reasons that might challenge establishment of an appropriate level of integration with their partners considering their business contexts.  

  • 7.
    Näslund, Dag
    et al.
    University of North Florida, USA ; Lund University.
    Hulthén, Hana
    Lund University.
    Supply chain management integration: a critical analysis2012In: Benchmarking: An International Journal, ISSN 1463-5771, E-ISSN 1758-4094, Vol. 19, no 4/5, p. 481-501Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose

    The purpose is to examine various aspects of integration in order to structure and define the concept of supply chain management integration.

    Design/methodology/approach

    The study is based on an extensive literature review in three steps and a series of interviews with leading SCM consulting firms.

    Findings

    We found limited empirical research discussing SCM integration beyond the dyadic level and there is a lack of empirical evidence supporting the claimed benefits of supply chain management integration, especially beyond the dyadic level. There is also a lack of detailed frameworks and concrete recommendations for how supply chains can become more integrated. In fact, there is significant confusion regarding the term SCM integration and thus we propose a definition of Supply Chain Management Integration.

    Research limitations/implications

    In terms of limitations, it is feasible that an extended literature review could have provided additional information. Similarly, additional interviews would have been preferable, yet given the level of expertise; and the access granted, we believe the current number of respondents is sufficient.

    Practical implications

    Our findings, and our effort to structure and define the term supply chain management integration, can facilitate organizational developments in this area.

    Originality/value

    Academic literature suggests that integration is a requirement for Supply Chain Management. However, integrated supply chain management is difficult to define and it seems hard to operationalize in practice. One could also argue that there has been a significant amount of hype regarding the potential as well as the results of SCM integration.

  • 8.
    Persdotter Isaksson, Maria
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Management Accounting and Logistics.
    Hulthén, Hana
    Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Management Accounting and Logistics.
    Forslund, Helena
    Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Management Accounting and Logistics.
    Dyadic integration of the ESLPM process: Multiple case study of buyers and LSPs2018In: NOFOMA 2018: the 30th NOFOMA conference: “Relevant logistics and supply chain management research”: conference proceedings / [ed] Jan Stentoft, Nordic Logistics Research Network, 2018Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 9.
    Persdotter Isaksson, Maria
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Management Accounting and Logistics.
    Hulthén, Hana
    Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Management Accounting and Logistics.
    Forslund, Helena
    Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Management Accounting and Logistics.
    Environmentally Sustainable Logistics Performance Management Process Integration between Buyers and 3PLs2019In: Sustainability, ISSN 2071-1050, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 11, no 11, p. 1-19, article id 3061Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    To ensure environmentally sustainable logistics, organizations need to have anenvironmentally sustainable logistics performance management (ESLPM) process. In line withsupply chain management (SCM) literature, there is a desire towards integrating processes withsupply chain partners to increase performance. The purpose of this paper is to propose a frameworkfor ESLPM process integration and to illustrate this framework in practice between buyers andthird-party logistics (3PLs) providers. The method used is multiple case studies of three dyads of3PLs and buyers from the public and private sector. Data were collected through 10 semi-structuredinterviews. Our major result is a proposed framework with criteria for the degree of ESLPM processintegration between buyers and 3PLs. It includes six activities: Selecting environmentally sustainablelogistics performance (ESLP) variables, defining ESLP metrics, setting ESLP targets, measuring ESLPmetrics, ESLPM feedback, and analyzing ESLP outcomes and processes. It considers suggestedoperationalization of each activity and the corresponding degree of integration. The framework canprovide guidelines for practitioners in identifying current degree of process integration. It may alsosupport decisions regarding actions needed to advance to a higher degree. This framework is the first toaddress logistics performance management process integration including environmental sustainability

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