Frontpage  About
Paper info: Exploring efficiency and effectiveness in the supply chainA conceptual analysis


Exploring efficiency and effectiveness in the supply chainA conceptual analysis


Benedikte Borgström
Chalmers University of Technology
Benedikte Borgström

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 21st IMP-conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2005.


Download paper
(129.8 kb)


Firms struggle for efficiency and effectiveness. Strategies involving collaboration betweenactors and integration of activity chains are reliant of factors that firms do not have directownership and control over. This has implications for strategizing, setting the goals andmeasuring performance. Efficiency and effectiveness are often used to describe performance.From a resource dependence perspective efficiency is defined as an internal standard ofperformance and effectiveness as an external standard of fit to various demands (Pfeffer andSalancik 1978). In supply chains efficiency improvements are e.g. Just-in Time productionwhile effectiveness is achieved through customer orientation and innovation.The conceptualization of efficiency and effectiveness has its roots in system theory. Definitionof the system is difficult for a quasi-organization as a supply chain that has blurred structuralboundaries. Defining the system as processes of activities implies that the meaning of and therelation between efficiency and effectiveness might change as well.This is a conceptual paper with a purpose to describe and analyze efficiency andeffectiveness as constructs based upon activity systems. The analysis of efficiency andeffectiveness involves the meaning, the use and the relations between efficiency andeffectiveness. We will use the resource dependence perspective’s definitions and recentdevelopment and usage of efficiency and effectiveness from IMP literature in the description.The analytical framework is in three steps: Dualism, duality and beyond (Ericson 2004). First,efficiency and effectiveness are described as two independent constructs, i.e. as a dualism.Thereafter efficiency and effectiveness will be described as two interrelated constructs, i.e. asa duality and finally we will analyze the constructs beyond the duality applied to a supplychain context. The framework illuminates that efficiency and effectiveness cannot be seen asindependent in a supply chain context with focus on processes. This as the evaluation isneither of a relation nor of an organization but of an organization of relationships. In theanalysis of efficiency and effectiveness the main difficulties are time, boundaries, andinterdependencies.