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A multi-tier study on supply chain flexibility in the automotive industry

: Thomé, Antonio Márcio T.; Scavarda, Luiz Felipe; Pires, Sílvio R.I.; Ceryno, Paula; Klingebiel, Katja


International Journal of Production Economics 158 (2014), pp.91-105
ISSN: 0925-5273
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IML ()
supply chain management; supply chain constraints; automotive industry; empirical study; Brazil

Over the past two decades, the scope of some key subjects in operations management has extended beyond the single company to include supply chain (SC) partners and their interactions. One example of such an extension is the contemporary concept of supply chain flexibility (SCF). Although there has been considerable academic progress on SCF, most of the previous studies on this topic have been confined to a single firm, thereby neglecting other important aspects of a supply chain. Therefore, the development of empirical multi-tier studies capable of investigating the inter-organisational components of SCF is required. Within this context, this paper has the purpose of exploring the main effects of flexible SC capabilities or their lack at various tiers that limit the SC׳s ability to provide products to end-customers. The research design was a multiple case study with internal and external validity checks, within-case analysis and cross-case comparisons, based on a research framework that scrutinises the relationships between SC contextual constraints and flexibility types. The study took place in three representative SCs of the Brazilian automotive industry and sought mainly to identify and compare SC contextual constraints that hinder product delivery to end-customers. Constraints such as suppliers´ capacity, diversity of suppliers, suppliers´ cooperation, trust and commitment, tariffs, exchange rates and inventory were identified in different supplier tiers of the OEMs as the main factors influencing the observed volume and mix flexibilities. Additionally, SCF types such as sourcing, relational, delivery, postponement, new product and responsiveness influenced the SC׳s flexibility provided to the end-customers.