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The IUP Journal of Supply Chain Management :
A Concept Note on the Relationship Between Empowerment, Collaboration and Selected Outcomes in a Supply Chain
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In Supply Chain Management (SCM), inter-firm collaboration is considered as the key to effective management for the delivery of the value that a customer desires. An increasingly educated workforce and advanced information systems facilitate business activities without the need for close supervision. In implementing an integrated value system, organizations are continually faced with the challenge of managing the ‘people’ part of the equation. Empowerment involves a management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance. A literature review of SCM collaboration and outcomes revealed that there is very little work on empowerment in the area of SCM to date. Research has traditionally focused on hard variables. Hence, integrating empowerment as a latent variable construct in an SCM framework and evaluating its role in SCM outcomes was considered not only to be academically interesting but also of use in industry. Constructs were selected, based on past studies and a theoretical framework with causal relationships was formed. The objective was to relate the role of empowerment in collaboration between organizations and their downstream partners which influences selected outcomes.

 
 
 

Supply Chain Management (SCM) focuses on maximizing customer value and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. It involves all activities from product development, sourcing, production, to logistics, as well as the information systems needed to coordinate these activities. This implies that competition has moved from between individual companies to between Supply Chains (SCs) (Stadtler and Kilger, 2000). Some regard SCM activities as within the purview of a single firm like those connected with the inbound materials, raw material inventories, manufacturing, finished goods inventories and distribution and view these as being the ‘SC’; others view SC as those activities from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption. However, another perspective of SCM is based on the management of relationships both between corporate functions and across companies (Ellram and Cooper, 1993). Ellram and Cooper (1993) compare SCM to a good and well-trained relay team. Such a team is more competitive when each player knows how to position himself for the transfer of the baton. Ganesan and Harrison (2003) underscore the point that SCM is understood to lie between fully vertically integrated firms, where the entire material and its flow are owned by a single firm and those where each channel member operates independently. Therefore, inter-firm collaboration is the key to effective management.

The suppliers and customers who were once considered as adversaries are now becoming partners as win-win situations are being implemented in SCs which has resulted in gains for all the members of the chain (Gryna, 2001). A win-win situation may suggest that collaboration exists between the partners in an SC. This is further corroborated by the finding that to be successful, companies will not seek to achieve cost reductions or profit improvements at the cost of their partners in the SC but will seek to make the entire SC more competitive (Li and Chen, 2001; and Elmuti, 2002). Wallers (2003) has concluded that organizations in the same SC should not compete with each other but should cooperate with one another to ensure customer satisfaction against organizations belonging to other competing SCs.

 
 
 

Supply Chain Management Journal,Empowerment, Collaboration , Selected Outcomes in a Supply Chain