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The impact of integrated industry-driven supply chains  

By Professor Christos Tsinolopulos and Professor Nick Ellis

Research undertaken by Professor Christos Tsinopoulos and Professor Nick Ellis at the Business School has enhanced supply chain management (SCM) for several UK firms.  

This research included large firms and Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector, not only impacting them directly but also having a further positive impact on suppliers and customers in their respective supply chains.

Engaging industry

Professor Ellis and Professor Tsinopoulos led engagement activities with companies and suppliers which saw a positive impact through improved business performance.

The research fell into two closely linked areas:

  1. Supply chain integration - the degree to which a manufacturer strategically collaborates with its supply chain partners and jointly manages processes.
  2. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing - the management of market-based relationships between organisations, including buying and selling.

The research explored how integrating such processes for developing new offerings and planning production could improve organisational performance.  The project looked to make significant changes in practice to:

  • Radically improve processes of analysing the marketplace and customer relationships.
  • Develop new working practices for managing these relationships, reflecting an improved marketing orientation.
  • Improve manufacturing firms’ effectiveness in providing customer value.
  • Develop and implement more responsive operational processes.

Improving performance

Results have meant that organisations have been able to systematically engage with their supply chain partners and improve their performance.

Specific improvements include:

  • Better idea generation for new product development (NPD).
  • Greater effectiveness of shared processes across the supply chain.
  • Identifying and mobilising partners to contribute value to customer solutions.
  • The development of a data classification policy to coordinate different elements and parts of the supply chain.

Research impact

Improvements have been realised in the performance of several UK manufacturers, through more effective management of supply chain relationships by understanding customer needs, developing new products and improving decision-making.

The reach and significance of this impact were seen by engaging with two groups of companies:

  1. A high number of manufacturers received detailed research-led guidance on improving their supply chain integration practices.
  2. Two organisations where the research team engaged closely to significantly improve the processes used to manage their supply chain relationships. For one company, turnover increased by approximately 28% and staff headcount increased by 50% in two years.

The impact has spread from these original studies of manufacturing excellence across several organisations to funded projects including a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) and an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) impact acceleration award.

Find out more

  • Staff profile: Professor Christos Tsinopoulos
  • Staff profile: Professor Nick Ellis
  • Publications:
    • McCarthy, IP, Tsinopoulos, C, Allen, P and Rose-Anderssen, C (2006) New Product Development as a Complex Adaptive System of Decisions. Journal of Product Innovation Management.
    • Tsinopoulos, C and Bell K (2010) Supply chain integration systems by small engineering to order companies: the challenge of implementation. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management.
    • Al-Zu'bi, Z and Tsinopoulos, C (2012) Suppliers vs Lead Users: Examining Their Relative Impact on Product Variety. Journal of Product Innovation Management.
    • Schepis, D, Purchase, S and Ellis N (2014) Network Position and Identity: A Language-Based Perspective on Strategizing, Industrial Marketing Management.
    • Rod, M, Lindsay, V and Ellis, N (2014) Managerial Perceptions of Service-infused IORs in China & India: A Discursive View of Value Co-creation, Industrial Marketing Management.
    • Tsinopoulos, C and Mena, C (2015) Supply chain integration configurations: Process structure and product newness. International Journal of Operations and Production Management.