Supply Chain Strategy, Product Characteristics, and Performance Impact: Evidence from Chinese Manufacturers∗

Topics: Supply chain management, Management, Supply chain Pages: 17 (5325 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Decision Sciences Volume 40 Number 4 November 2009

Journal compilation


C 2009, The Author 2009, Decision Sciences Institute

Supply Chain Strategy, Product Characteristics, and Performance Impact: Evidence from Chinese Manufacturers∗ Yinan Qi†
University of International Business and Economics, School of Business, No. 10, Huixing Dongjie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, 100029; e-mail:

Kenneth K. Boyer
Management Sciences Department, Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, e-mail:

Xiande Zhao
Department of Decision Sciences and Managerial Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Leung Kau Kui Building, CUHK, Shatin, Hong Kong, e-mail:

Supply chain management has become one of the most popular approaches to enhance the global competitiveness of business corporations today. Firms must have clear strategic thinking in order to effectively organize such complicated activities, resources, communications, and processes. An emerging body of literature offers a framework that identifies three kinds of supply chain strategies: lean strategy, agile strategy, and lean/agile strategy based on in-depth case studies. Extant research also suggests that supply chain strategies must be matched with product characteristics in order for firms to achieve better performance. This article investigates supply chain strategies and empirically tests the supply chain strategy model that posits lean, agile, and lean/agile approaches using data collected from 604 manufacturing firms in China. Cluster analyses of the data indicate that Chinese firms are adopting a variation of lean, agile, and lean/agile supply chain strategies identified in the western literature. However, the data reveal that some firms have a traditional strategy that does not emphasize either lean or agile principles. These firms perform worse than firms that have a strategy focused on lean, agile, or lean/agile supply chain. The strategies are examined with respect to product characteristics and financial and operational performance. The article makes significant contributions to the supply chain management literature by examining the supply chain strategies used by Chinese firms. In addition, this work empirically tests the applicability of supply chain strategy models that have not been rigorously tested empirically or in the fast-growing Chinese economy.

∗ This research is supported by a research grant from “211” Key Disciplines Development Project of University of International Business and Economics (project #73200033), an RGC Direct allocation grant (project #2070386), and a research fund from Center for Supply Chain Management and Logistics, Li & Fung Institute of Supply Chain Management and Logistics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. † Corresponding




Supply Chain Strategy and Product Characteristics

Subject Areas: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Cluster Analysis, Product Characteristics, Strategic Management, and Supply Chain Design. INTRODUCTION Today’s competition is not between autonomous business entities, but between integrated supply chains (Lambert & Cooper, 2000). Therefore, supply chain management has received increasing attention from practitioners and academia. Effectively managing the flow of materials from supply sources to the ultimate customer represents a major challenge for today’s managers (Mabert & Venkataramanan, 1998). Thus, firms need to posses a clear strategic planning in order to effectively organize such complicated activities, resources, communications, and processes. Prior research has identified three major supply chain strategies: lean, agile, and lean/agile strategies (Christopher, 2000; Christopher & Towill, 2000; Bruce, Daly, & Towers, 2004; Yusuf, Gunasekaran, Adeleye, & Sivayoganathan, 2004). Research on supply chain strategy is closely linked with product characteristics. For...
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