کسب دانش در مشارکت های زنجیره تامین : نقش قدرت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|3608||2013||14 صفحه PDF||45 صفحه WORD|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 141, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 605–618
Knowledge is recognised as an important source of competitive advantage and hence there has been increasing academic and practitioner interest in understanding and isolating the factors that contribute to effective knowledge transfer between supply chain actors. The literature identifies power as a salient contributor to the effective operation of a supply chain partnership. However, there is a paucity of empirical research examining how power among actors influences knowledge acquisition and in turn the performance of supply chain partners. The aim of this research is to address this gap by examining the relationship between power, knowledge acquisition and supply chain performance among the supply chain partners of a focal Chinese steel manufacturer. A structured survey was used to collect the necessary data. Two conceptually independent variables – ‘availability of alternatives’ and ‘restraint in the use of power’ – were used to assess actual and realised power, respectively. Controlling for contingencies, we found that the flow of knowledge increased when supply chain actors had limited alternatives and when the more powerful actor exercised restraint in the use of power. Moreover, we found a positive relationship between knowledge acquisition and supply chain performance. This paper enriches the literature by empirically extending our understanding of how power affects knowledge acquisition and performance.
This paper examines the relationship between power and knowledge transfer among supply chain partners because this is an important relationship and research in this area is scarce. Supply chain partnership is one of the most widely adopted forms of collaborative interfirm alliance (Pekar and Allio, 1994). This is largely due to features that afford flexibility within the relationship such as contractual agreements between partners (if one exists at all) that are unlikely to possess the rigidity and legal agreements of the contracts prevalent in other forms of interfirm relationship, for example joint ventures, R&D partnerships and cross licencing (e.g., Wilson, 1995, Frankel et al., 1996 and Lambert et al., 1996). A number of theories are used to explain the rationale for entering into collaborative agreements. These include transaction cost economics (TCE) (Williamson, 1975), the resource-based view (RBV) (Barney, 1991), resource dependence theory (RDT) (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978), and the relational view (Dyer and Singh, 1998). According to TCE firms enter into collaborative agreements in order to reduce the cost of participating in the market. Here, collaborative agreements unlike merger and acquisition offer a restricted hierarchy because of partial absorption of interdependencies (Fitzroy et al., 2011). The RBV posits that firms enter into collaborative agreements to complement their resources (Murray et al., 2005). According to RDT organisations are constrained and affected by their environments and attempt to manage resources dependencies by pursuing from amongst five options one of which is interorganisational collaboration (Pfeffer and Salancik, 2003). As such, RDT posits that firms use collaborative arrangements to reduce uncertainty and interdependence (Harrigan and Newman, 1990). The relational view postulates that idiosyncratic interfirm linkages are a source of superior rent. Dyer and Singh (1998) identify four sources of relational rents: (a) relation-specific assets; (b) knowledge sharing routines; (c) complementary resources/capabilities; and (d) effective governance. The unit of analysis in the case of the relational view is networks and/or dyads of firms, while the firm is the unit of analysis in the case of the other three theories. There are two important points to note. First, RBV, the relational view, and RDT are complementary. For example, the RBV posits that inter-organisation collaboration facilitates the development of valuable resources, while the relational view argues that shared resources and routines are a source of competitive advantage. In essence RBV describes how/why, and the relational view describes what/why. Second, as we discuss later, RDT is the only theory that implicitly recognises the significance of power. The knowledge based view (KBV) uses the logic of RBV to posit that “knowledge” is a major determinant of competiveness (Kogut and Zander, 1992 and Grant, 1996). Moreover, scholars postulate that knowledge sharing between alliance partners is a major contributor to enhanced competitiveness (Levinson and Asahi, 1995, Mowery et al., 1996 and Inkpen, 1998). Not surprisingly, knowledge management practices among supply chain partners have attracted much attention (e.g., Beecham and Cordey-Hayes, 1998, Kotabe et al., 2003, Hult et al., 2004, Handfield and Lawson, 2007, Modi and Mabert, 2007, Rauniar et al., 2008 and Pedroso and Nakano, 2009). The literature suggests that partnerships between buyer and supplier firms are a conduit for knowledge sharing that can result in improved performance along the entire supply chain (Heide and Miner, 1992, Dyer and Nobeoka, 2000, Krause et al., 2007, Rauniar et al., 2008, Lawson et al., 2009 and Cao and Zhang, 2010). One strand of empirical research on supply chain partnerships has focused on isolating and examining the impact of key attributes of partnership (most commonly trust, commitment, interdependence and shared meaning) on the exchange of knowledge between supply chain partners (e.g., Spekman et al., 2002, Hult et al., 2004, Dyer and Hatch, 2006, Krause et al., 2007, Modi and Mabert, 2007 and Panayides and Venus Lun, 2009). According to the extant literature, power among supply chain partners is another key attribute influencing the operational behaviour and performance of supply chain partners (Lascelles and Dale, 1989, New, 1998, Cox, 1999, Cox et al., 2001, Hallikas et al., 2005, Ke et al., 2009 and Liu et al., 2010). The relative power of partners is likely to significantly influence the distribution of responsibilities and the flow of benefits between them (Benton and Maloni, 2005, Hingley, 2005, Zhao et al., 2008, Ke et al., 2009 and Esmaeili and Zeephongsekul, 2010). The importance of power goes beyond academic curiosity. According to Cox (1999), cognisance of power is of significant importance to practitioners as well as academics. He argued that if they fail to understand power within the supply chain, both practitioners and academics ‘may well be guilty of recommending strategies and operational practices that are inappropriate for the supply chains in which they operate’ (Cox, 1999, p. 172). Maloni and Benton (2000) echoed this view and suggested that supply chain practice or research that does not account for the influence of power cannot be entirely realistic or implementable. Research examining the relationship between power and different attributes of supply chain partnership is relatively sparse and generally suffers from methodological shortcomings. As far as we were able to ascertain, the majority of publications that do exist are either conceptual (e.g., Cox, 1999, Cox, 2004, Watson, 1999, Cox et al., 2001, Li et al., 2002, Sucky, 2006, Crook and Combs, 2007 and Muthusamy et al., 2008), or descriptive (e.g., Ogbonna and Wilkinson, 1998, Ireland, 1999 and Watson, 2001). The lack of empirical research is potentially detrimental to the scholarly development of the field and to practice. Moreover, the limited number of empirical studies we were able to locate also displayed methodological limitations. The majority were case based, hence limiting the opportunity to develop generalisable conclusions (e.g., Bates and Slack, 1998, Sanderson, 2001, Cousins, 2002, Faria and Wensley, 2002, Hingley, 2005, Krajewski et al., 2005 and Narasimhan et al., 2009). The few published studies using survey methodology lacked clarity on validity and reliability issues (e.g., Provan and Gassenheimer, 1994 and Yeung et al., 2009). Furthermore, the previous quantitative studies we located that dealt with multiple dependent variables (e.g., Provan and Gassenheimer, 1994, Berthon et al., 2003 and Caniels and Gelderman, 2007) generally used analytical methods such as multiple regression, rather than techniques such as canonical correlation, MANOVA, MANCOVA and SEM (structural equation modelling) as recommended by Podsakoff and Dalton (1987), which can simultaneously handle multiple dependent variables, and account for systematic variances of dependent variables and potential interrelationships between dependent variables. There are a small number of exceptions (e.g., Zhao et al., 2008 and Ke et al., 2009). For example, Zhao et al. (2008) examined the impact of power and relationship commitment on supply chain integration using SEM. Ke et al. (2009) examined the impact of mediated and non-mediated power on electronic supply chain management system adoption, following a partial least squares technique. However, the foci of these two studies are significantly different from the focus of the present study. Turning our attention to research specifically concerned with the relationship between power and knowledge sharing among supply chain partners, additional shortcomings are evident. First, despite its apparent importance (Beecham and Cordey-Hayes, 1998, Dyer and Nobeoka, 2000, Ke and Wei, 2007, Muthusamy et al., 2008 and Ke et al., 2009) there is a dearth of empirical studies examining this relationship. It is a specific field of study that requires greater attention. Second, there is a divergence of views about the impact of power. Some authors argue that power is detrimental (Beecham and Cordey-Hayes, 1998, Maloni and Benton, 2000 and Muthusamy et al., 2008), while others argue that power is helpful (Cox, 1999, Dyer and Nobeoka, 2000 and Yeung et al., 2009). This lack of consistency, which we return to in the next section, provides a further impetus for this study. Despite the existence of numerous literature contributions examining relationship factors such as trust, commitment, interdependence and shared meaning, the literature suggests that there is a lack of empirical research examining power in supply chain partnerships (see also Caniels and Gelderman, 2007), and especially its influence on interfirm knowledge transfer. Given that power tends to be a complex factor influencing the dynamics of supply chain partnership, we argue that it is critically important to give power due consideration in its own right through empirical study. For example, if we find that the restraint of power enhances knowledge acquisition, then management behaviour that seeks to take advantage of actual power purely for self-interest is likely in the long term to be detrimental to improving performance, and such behaviour needs to be re-evaluated. This paper therefore contributes to the extant literature by examining the relationship between power and knowledge transfer among supply chain partners. Furthermore, we extend the understanding by examining the effect on supply chain performance. If we find that knowledge acquisition enhances overall supply chain performance then boundary-spanning employees and managers should be empowered and equipped better to lead knowledge acquisition efforts, and supply chain partners should be encouraged to identify and develop the context-specific practices that will provide the necessary, sustainable communication and collaboration platforms. We use two constructs rooted in appropriate theory – ‘availability of alternatives’ and ‘restraint in the use of power’ – to assess power, and we also examine their interactional effect. We controlled for the effects of partnership duration in our model. As a further methodological extension, we controlled for contingencies present in previous studies that used a cross-section of independent firms, by focusing on actors operating within the supply chain of a single focal firm.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The primary contribution of this paper to the literature is to show the differential impact of the two indicators of power on knowledge acquisition. Our research thus offers evidence that power is multifaceted and that each factor influences knowledge acquisition differently. This in turn may explain the inconsistent findings of previous studies examining the role played by power within supply chains (e.g., Beecham and Cordey-Hayes, 1998, Cox, 1999, Dyer and Nobeoka, 2000 and Maloni and Benton, 2000). Actual power, in the shape of availability of alternatives, had a negative impact on knowledge acquisition. This supports the view that knowledge transfer is more likely to take place when one partner views another as irreplaceable. In other words, high interdependence is a catalyst for knowledge transfer. More importantly, it is the decision to exercise restraint in the use of power that positively influences knowledge acquisition. From a practical point of view this study suggests that factors under management control such as how much, and how to exercise, power have a significant influence on knowledge transfer and the overall performance of the supply chain. A key managerial implication of these findings is that management behaviour predicated on exploiting actual power is likely in the long term to be detrimental to improving performance. Instead, managers of supply chain actors in favourable positions of power are encouraged to see beyond the short-term gains resulting from lower relative switching costs and both encourage and lead further development of the cooperative relationship. Our study further supports the view that knowledge transfer improves the performance of supply chain firms (e.g., Modi and Mabert, 2007 and Lawson et al., 2009). This has important implications for the design and operation of supply chain partnerships, suggesting that one of the main goals ought to be knowledge exchange and ensuring that effective channels are put in place to facilitate it. Our finding provides a further reminder to managers that knowledge sharing improves performance and that supply chains offer the potential to affect knowledge transfer. A key implication for managers is the need to identify the specific mechanisms, in the specific context of their supply chain partnership, that best facilitate closer communication and hence knowledge acquisition. Typical mechanisms are visits to partners’ premises, video-conferencing, and shared web-based communication platforms. A second key implication is for managers to think carefully about what type of knowledge is mutually most beneficial in the partnership’s specific context, that is to say the content of knowledge transfer. To this end, Modi and Mabert (2007) suggest five categories of content: ‘production/manufacturing related’, ‘problem solving assistance related’, ‘quality related’, ‘process control related’ and ‘other’ (e.g., timing and innovation). Perhaps most importantly, there is an important nexus between this latter implication and the aforementioned implication for managers to ensuring that effective channels for knowledge exchange are developed. There is an opportunity for managers to carefully match each of Modi and Mabert’s (2007) categories of ‘content’ of knowledge exchange to the existing communication channels and mechanisms in their partnership in order to maximise knowledge acquisition. Furthermore, such an exercise can identify where gaps exist and channel/mechanism improvement efforts can be prioritised. This finding also emphasises the importance both of knowledge being exchanged and of what the knowledge is about. Clearly both are important. With this in mind, future research is encouraged to examine learning theory (e.g., Huber, 1991 and Hult, 1998) with a view to extending the knowledge acquisition aspect in supply chain partnership design to cater for knowledge geared towards exploration and knowledge geared towards exploitation. Top and senior managers represented the majority of respondents in our study as they possessed first-hand knowledge of the supply chain practices in their firms. However, our study did not explicitly capture at which level or levels in the firms the knowledge acquisition was taking place. It would be interesting to see if the relationships we observed in our findings hold true at different knowledge exchange levels. For example, it would be interesting to ascertain in future research to what extent knowledge acquisition at top management versus plant/operations level is affected by the two indicators of power. Furthermore, to what extent it is knowledge acquisition at the top management team level that helps to drive performance improvement in supply chain firms versus knowledge acquisition at lower more operational levels of the firms. Answers to such questions, particularly if linked to the ‘content’ and ‘channels’ of knowledge acquisition, would further augment an understanding of how supply chain partnerships can best be designed to facilitate performance enhancing knowledge exchange Our finding that supply chain actors with many alternative partners are less willing to exercise restraint in the use of power, suggests that weaker parties that wish to suppress this tendency will have to be even more proactive in their efforts to help the stronger parties appreciate the potential gains that could be secured from restraining the exercise of their power. The finding suggests that the onus may therefore be with the weaker parties in the partnership to champion the cause for greater cooperation and collaboration, and furthermore to identify and instigate suitable mechanisms and practices that can facilitate these intentions. This is likely to have resource implications for them. In summary, our study suggests that it is beneficial for managers in weaker firms to actively seek learning partnerships with stronger firms in the supply chain. Furthermore, it is more beneficial for managers of firms with superior power to exercise power proportionately and constructively and not to overlook the knowledge resident within weaker firms. It can pay dividends if boundary spanners give weaker firms greater opportunity to have a say regarding cooperation and supply chain operation, hence giving both sides a better chance of improving current practices that benefit them as individual firms and benefit the supply chain as a whole. This research potentially has two key methodological limitations. First, it may suffer from common method bias, which refers to the artificial covariance between the predictor and criterion variables when the same respondent is providing the measure for both sets of variables (Podsakoff et al., 2003, p. 882). However, by following a tailored design method, carefully designing the scale and randomising the items in the questionnaire, the common method effects were kept at a minimum level. Moreover, a post-hoc analysis, Harman’s one-factor test, was performed among all the items, revealing the presence of six distinct factors. These results suggested that common method bias was not a likely explanation for the reported findings (Andersson and Bateman, 1997). Second, this research may also suffer from key informant bias. Although the key informant method is widely deemed to be acceptable (Chau and Tam, 1997), the richness of the information from only one informant from each firm surveyed is still limited (Tornatzky and Klein, 1982). However, since our data were collected from the supply network of one large focal firm, it is more likely that the respondents provided more consistent and reliable answers, generating a more holistic picture of the supply network studied and reducing the negative effect of key informant bias. This research has two other limitations, which lead us to suggest important areas for further research. First, in this paper we focused on knowledge acquisition, which is a key part of knowledge transfer. However, knowledge transfer also involves internalisation and utilisation. The interaction between supply chain partners does not end at the point of knowledge acquisition. It is likely that other related knowledge transfer processes, such as knowledge internalisation and utilisation may also be affected by power (Makhija and Ganesh, 1997 and Kim et al., 2004). Therefore, future studies should examine the effect of power on knowledge internalisation and utilisation. Second, although the network-based approach we employed tends to provide more in-depth understanding and guard against the presence of the confounding effects found in the study of unrelated supply chains, the fine-grained approach of this study could limit the generalisability of the research results to other industry contexts.