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Paper info: The Role of Supply Network in Strategic Positioning


The Role of Supply Network in Strategic Positioning


Annalisa Tunisini
Catholic University
Annalisa Tunisini and
Ivan Snehota
University of Lugano
Ivan Snehota

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 19th IMP-conference in Lugano, Switzerland in 2003.


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The paper addresses the issue of the link between strategic positioning of the business and the configuration of its supplier base. It is based on two company cases; both suppliers of equipment to the furniture and metal working companies; both facing the same tendency in their customer relationships, both are among leading international companies in the industrial district of eastern Italy. The companies are compared in particular with respect to their choices of positioning in the supply network.The cases illustrate that supply network positioning of a company is linked to the intended business strategy and to the development of capabilities that permit the company to develop and maintain a differential advantage in the whole flow of value creating activities. In particular, it appears that the differential advantage reflects company's capability to control, use and mobilize other companies and connect critical activities and combine critical resources in the supply network in a ?unique? way. ?Uniqueness? that underlies the differential advantage of the company stems from variables and processes with their own characteristics and result from specific history, burdens and framing of the development perspectives.The cases substantiate the differentiation of companies? behaviours in outsourcing and insourcing strategies. They all can be equally successful and effective as each company is culturally, historically and operationally unique, and unique is its own approach to the supply network as well as the effects its interactions and interdependencies.Key words: strategic positioning ? supply networks ? path dependence ? competition