Logistics Collaboration in Supply Chains : A Survey of Swedish Manufacturing Companies

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to describe logistics collaboration in supply chains. During the past two decades, a new trend towards integration and collaboration in supply chains has been recognised among researchers as well as among business practitioners. This philosophy is called supply chain management and has received enormous attention in logistics research. Collaboration based on supply chain management is expected to reduce total cost and improve service towards the supply chain’s end customers at the same time.The argumentation in existing literature is however seldom underpinned by more rigorous empirical material and becomes therefore conceptual and superficial. Furthermore, it is incongruous about what actually is done when companies collaborate and what more specific effects are achieved. Therefore more research, especially survey based, is needed in order to verify existing literature. In this thesis the perspective of a focal company is taken in order to concretise the ideas from supply chain management and investigate what it means for an individual company.Based on supply chain management literature, a questionnaire was constructed which focused on the content of the collaboration and its driving forces, barriers and effects. Furthermore, differences between triadic collaborations, i.e. collaborations where both the supplier and customer of the focal company are involved, and dyadic collaborations (collaboration with either a supplier or a customer) were investigated.The questionnaire was mailed to 482 Swedish manufacturing companies which had a turnover of more than SEK 100 Million per annum and with more than 100 employees. This population was considered as a typical target group for the supply chain management literature. 177 usable answers were received which gives a response rate of 37.8%.The results from this study are summarised in five propositions. It is proposed that the content of logistics collaboration in the Swedish manufacturing companies’ supply chains is rather operative in its character and does not reach the strategic level that is advocated by the literature. In particular, the degree of process approach in the collaborations is low. This area has a great potential for improvements.The results also indicate that the intensity of the collaboration, i.e. frequency of information sharing, degree of joint operative planning of involved supply chain activities, and process approach, are positively related to the effects experienced of the collaboration. The relation between joint strategic planning and the operative collaboration issues is however weak and does not seem to influence the effects experienced as a consequence of the collaboration.Furthermore, engagement from top management is recognised as an important driver for successful collaboration. Top management involvement means an increased internal focus on the collaboration and facilitates more intensive collaboration.Finally, differences in attitude and behaviour are recognised depending on whom the collaboration partner is. The study shows that the traditional way of managing supply chain relations still dominates, where the focal company “demand what he wants” upstream much more than in the case for downstream relations. Such differences according to SCM literature should not exist and can be considered as a serious threat for SCM based collaboration.

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