Supply chain management skills to sense and seize opportunities
Tatham, P and Wu, Y and Kovacs, G and Butcher, T, Supply chain management skills to sense and seize opportunities, International Journal of Logistics Management, 28, (2) pp. 266-289. ISSN 0957-4093 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the supply chain management (SCM) skills that
support the sensing and seizing of opportunities in a changing business environment.
Design/methodology/approach: Based on the previous literature on the T-shaped model of SCM skills,
data were collected through a mail survey among Australian business executives. The resultant skill sets are
grouped along factors that support the sensing vs seizing of opportunities.
Findings: Interestingly from an SCM perspective, functional logistics-related skills are important to
maintain competitiveness but are not the ones contributing to a firmís ability to sense opportunities and
threats, and to seize opportunities in a changing business environment. The authors, therefore, support the
notion that supply chain managers should be managers first. Factual SCM knowledge is the solid basis, but
otherwise only an entry requirement in this field.
Research limitations/implications: Problem-solving skills, along with forecasting and customer/
supplier relationship management, stand out as important components that support the ability of supply
chain managers to sense and shape opportunities and threats in a turbulent business environment. This focus
would tend to suggest the importance of supply chain integration and collaboration as management
approaches. Other SCM skills from warehousing and inventory management to transportation and
purchasing are more prevalent for maintaining competitiveness.
Practical implications: The results of the survey and the consequential analysis indicate that the content
of tertiary-level educational programmes should be significantly reviewed to deliver two distinct
(but partially overlapping) streams that focus on the generalist and functionalist managers who must work
together in the management of the increasingly global and complex supply chains.
Social implications: Functional skills often form the basis of training and education programmes for
supply chain managers. Whilst these form the solid foundation for their jobs, they are entry requirements at
best. In a changing business environment, other skills are needed for success. Given that turbulence is
becoming the norm rather than the exception, this finding necessitates rethinking in training and education
programmes, as well as in the recruitment of supply chain managers.
Originality/value: Testing the T-shaped model of SCM skills from a dynamic capabilities perspective, the
results of the factor analysis lead to a regrouping of skill sets in terms of sensing and seizing opportunities in
a turbulent business environment.
Dynamic capabilities, Supply chain agility, Supply chain management skills, Business turbulence, Business volatility, Sense and respond