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Paper info: Viewing Supply Chain Integration with Knowledge-related Statements


Viewing Supply Chain Integration with Knowledge-related Statements


Rainer Breite and Sari Maenpaa

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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Although the concept of supply chain integration (SCI) is familiar to most researchers and
decision-makers especially in the field of supply chain management (SCM), the actual
mechanism as well as measuring and management of SCI are blurred. The case studies with
regard to SCI mostly represent process industry such as automotive industry with sequential
interdependencies between the integrated activities. However, environmental dynamics call
for greater SCI to capture the benefits of coordinated activities and therefore, SCI is more
likely to occur in industries with rapid changes in demand, technology or competition. Thus,
firms will use SCI as a mechanism to control external dynamics. In addition to the lack of
research of SCI in dynamic project environment, the integrative elements such as trust,
mutuality, information exchange, openness and communication are less studied due to their
complexity. All these integrative elements are also more or less directly related to
information and knowledge sharing.
In this paper we have considered the information-related elements of single companies in two
project industry clusters in the context of supply chain integration. The considered clusters
are shipbuilding and construction both representing dynamic project industry with significant
environmental turbulence and irregularity. The aim was to view the possibilities of single
companies to integrate in each network considering both similarities and differences in
information and knowledge sharing between the two clusters.
The viewpoint in this paper is based on a conceptual framework of integration elements
building on the idea that SCI is an expression of collaboration and common goals to meet the
objectives of a supply chain or a network. Therefore, three perspectives should be considered
when managing companies towards SCI: the common goals perspective, the information and
knowledge sharing perspective and the trust and commitment perspective. Here we focus on
the elements related to information and knowledge sharing because of their central role also
in defining common goals as well as building trust and commitment between the companies.
After bringing out the conceptual model for SCI we then introduce the information-related
statements to be empirically tested in two dynamic project clusters. The information-related
statements are based on the conceptual framework and are grouped as follows: i) statements
related to information technology, ii) statements related to information exploitation and iii)
statements related to information flows. The focal differences and similarities between the
two clusters will be identified based on this grouping. As a result, the opportunities and
difficulties (i.e. possibilities) of integration in project business context in relation to
information and knowledge sharing are expected to be identified.
The findings of our study reveal that information and knowledge sharing of the companies in
a wittingly developed cluster, i.e. shipbuilding network, differs from a more heterogeneous
construction industry network. However, both clusters call for radical SCM improvements in
relation to information and knowledge sharing and utilizing ICT. Our study also shows that
information-related drivers to improve or drivers impairing the company’s integration
possibilities in a supply chain or network can be defined and detected.
Keywords: Information and knowledge sharing, supply chain integration, supply network