ارتباط و مدیریت کیفیت در زنجیره تامین گوشت خوک چینی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 134, Issue 2, December 2011, Pages 312–321
This article attempts to integrate transactional and relational governance perspectives to investigate interfirm exchange relationships and quality management in the pork supply chain in China. Data from 229 pork processors from eastern China were used for analysis. Path analysis results reveal positive relationships between the degree of asset specificity and uncertainty and the degree of vertical coordination and between the degree of vertical coordination and quality management practices. However, insignificant positive relationships were found between asset specificity and relational governance in the upstream chain and between uncertainty and relational governance in the downstream chain. A discussion of the results and of the implications of the findings is provided.
China has become the world largest pork production and consumption country since the early 1990s. The total output of pork production reached nearly 52 million tons in 2006, accounting for more than 50% of the total pork production in the world. However, China exported less than 1% of its pork output in 2006 (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2007); which can be explained by the poor image of its pork quality as well as the outbreak of animal diseases in the country. In the last five years, the pork industry was influenced by the outbreak of Streptococcus suis in swine and humans in Sichuan province and the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome diseases in many areas of China. Media also reported safety problems caused by drug residuals and Clenbuterol food poison accidents. With the increasing income and changing lifestyles generated by rapid economic and social development, China's pork industry will probably be driven to emphasize safety, quality and convenience in the future. However, the current pork industry is characterized by the dominant position of smallholder hog producers and slaughterhouses. The organization of such a fragmented pork chain induces problems in tracking and tracing pork from “field to table” (Han et al., 2007). It is therefore critical to seek for better supply chain governance to solve the quality and safety problems in the pork industry. Traditional spot market transactions are still the most popular market channel that farmers use for selling their hogs (Zhou and Dai, 2005). However, contractual governance and relational governance mechanisms are also popular in interfirm exchange. Large and medium size meat processing companies (e.g. Shineway and Yurun Co. Ltd.) have established closer vertical coordination mechanism with their suppliers and retailers, and invested heavily in developing cold chains to provide consumers with brand products. Retailers, especially the supermarkets, look for a closer relationship with suppliers to meet quality demand. Also, more franchised and specialized stores have been established by large pork processing firms. An important question in this research is whether more integrated governance forms improve pork quality management (QM). The empirical studies on the relationship between governance forms and QM in China are scarce. Insights on this relationship will thus provide instruments for further developments on the Chinese pork sector in general and the coordination of integrated QM in pork chains in particular. Organizational arrangements and transaction attributes have been studied by the theory of transaction cost economics (TCE). Characteristics of transaction-specific investments (TSIs), frequency and uncertainty have been examined in light of their impact on governance mechanisms. The general proposition of TCE is that managers align the governance features of interorganizational relationships to match known exchange hazards, particularly those associated with specialized asset investments, difficult performance measurement, or uncertainty (Williamson, 1985 and Williamson, 1991a). However, some researchers argue that in practice, given that TSIs are necessary, many transactions exist outside the realm of vertical integration or contracts (Bensaou and Anderson, 1999). They postulate that one possible reason for this is that relationships based on trust make vertical integration less important to protect TSIs. An ongoing relationship generally fosters trust and enables partners to adopt more flexible models of cooperation (such as alliances), create value together (that is, mutual benefits or reciprocity), and eventually, induce exchange partners to make TSIs (Yu et al., 2006). This is the major view of relational exchange theory (RET, MacNeil, 1978). Though in the last decade, studies have been done to investigate interfirm exchange relationships using both TCE and RET (e.g. Yu et al., 2006; Zhou et al., 2008), empirical evidence informing this issue in the Chinese context is scarce and mixed (Zhou et al., 2008). Furthermore, while the impact of transaction attributes on governance mechanisms has been devoted significant attention, there is a lack of a comprehensive framework to explain the alignment of governance mechanisms in the presence of transaction characteristics in the pork supply chain from both transactional and relational perspectives. Therefore, one of the purposes of this study is to develop a framework that integrates TCE and RET to explain the impact of transaction attributes on governance mechanisms in the context of the pork processing industry. In addition to this, the trade-off between formal contracts and relational governance mechanisms will also be examined. The layout of the paper is as follows: the next section introduces the theoretical framework and the relationships among the research constructs. The research design is then described and the empirical results are presented in 3 and 4, respectively. Section 5 draws conclusions and presents some discussion. Finally, the chapter concludes with implications for the managers of pork processing firms in China, limitations of the study and recommendations for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The main purpose of our research was to develop an integrated framework that combines both transaction cost economics and relational exchange theory to explain the relationships among transaction attributes, governance structure and quality management practices. Our study provides empirical evidence that the degree of TSIs and uncertainty does matter in the alignment of governance structures in the pork chain. This is consistent with transaction cost logic. In pork production chain, it is costly to purchase modern production lines and develop cold chains for pork distribution and marketing. In addition to this, asset specificity also corresponds to investments in effort and human capital that make existing assets more productive. In China, it takes time and effort to establish and maintain collaborative business relationships. However, the pork processors acknowledge the great importance of these human specific investments to understand the business operation practices of the exchange partners for long-term benefits. On the one hand, we find that managers tend to use formal contracts when faced with greater uncertainty—presumably because formalized agreements facilitate necessary adaptation (Zhou et al., 2008). When uncertainty increases, contracts should be more detailed in order to make monitoring and adjustment less difficult. Thus our empirical test is identical to TCE as the construct of uncertainty is significantly related to governance choice, and to some of the previous empirical studies. For example, Buvik's (2002) empirical findings demonstrated the positive impact of hybrid governance on industrial purchasing relationships when buyers and suppliers encountered substantial asset specificity and unpredictable or changing conditions. As long as pork production is concerned, increasing efforts to produce leaner pork in response to changing consumer tastes and experimental hog production of new genetics require the pork processors to handle exchange relationships with contracts instead of spot market mechanism. This is especially necessary when the pork processors cooperate with international supermarket chains in China. For example, Carrefour and Metro require that the processors provide them with the performance of the producers. Contracts also allow the firms to implement certain incentive schemes that reward the producers for performing well. On the other hand, our study shows mixed findings in the impact of asset specificity and uncertainty on the use of relational governance. In relationships with the downstream customers, the pork processors appear more concerned about long-term cooperation and trust in the presence of asset specificity, which contrasts with the findings in the upstream model. While increased assets specificity may facilitate long-term cooperation between pork processors and their downstream customer, it does not appear to be an effective means to maintain a cooperative and trusted relationship between the pork processors and their suppliers. The result is in line with the findings of Lu et al. (2008). Accordingly to their study, the relational governance of China's vegetable processors has no direct impact on TSIs when the vegetable processors are trading with their suppliers. The failure in finding a positive relationship between the degree of uncertainty and relational governance in downstream model might be explained by the fact that downstream relationships are characterized by less uncertainty than the upstream relationships. Relational norms are necessary to facilitate adjustments when there are high market disturbances (Williamson, 1991a), which are likely to occur with high levels of changes in hog (meat) supply and the large variance in quality due to many suppliers. Contrary to the substitution view on contractual governance and relational governance mechanism, our empirical analysis supports the conclusion that contracts and relational governance function as complements. This finding is consistent with some previous empirical studies. For example, Yeung (2006) indicated that ethnic Chinese businesses in Southeast Asia employ both social networks and more formal (bureaucratic) forms of firm control. In addition, Lu et al. (2007) also found a significant impact of interpersonal trust on buyer–seller relationships in China's vegetable sector as complementary to more formal governance forms. Due to the weak legal system at this time, it is costly and ineffective to depend on contractual assurance when problems occur in buyer–supplier relationships. An example may explain the complementary relationship between the formal contractual and relational governance mechanism. It is a normal practice for supermarkets to promote sales by discounting pork products, especially before important festivals in China. They require the processors to pay the costs of promotion activities. Supermarkets also ask the processors to return some percentage of revenues when the sales reach a certain level. It is time consuming for processors to negotiate with the supermarkets and reach common consensus. Under these circumstances, relational governance built on long-term trusted basis with supermarkets is a means of gaining relational rents that would otherwise be impossible (Nordin, 2008). Our empirical test supports the positive relationships between more integrated governance forms and the use of QMP in pork processing firms in China. This is in line with the findings of Martinez and Zering (2004) in the USA. Contracting between pork packers and producers in the USA has increased considerably since the 1990s. Marketing contracts accounted for approximately 69% of hogs sold in 2004, compared with less than 2% in 1980. One of the main reasons is the changing emphasis on pork quality by consumers. As the institutional setting for obtaining a reward for quality production can be subject to a high degree of uncertainty in evolving markets, it is even more important for firms in China to develop more integrated governance arrangements in their relationships with suppliers and customers. In summary, we find the following identical and different relationships between the pork processors and its upstream and downstream partners in the two models. (1) With the increasing degree of TSIs and uncertainty, the pork processors tend to use contractual governance mechanisms to manage buyer–supplier relationships. The finding is the same between the two models. (2) If the pork processors intend to implement good QMP, they may not depend on spot market transaction with their upstream suppliers and downstream customers. The buyer–supplier relationship management on the basis of contractual and relational governance mechanisms may help the companies to exert higher degree of control and monitoring on their exchange partners. Together with long-term cooperation established on trusted relationships, they contribute to better QM of the pork processors. These identical findings can be understood in the context of the similar industrial structures in hog production, distribution and marketing. Due to very low concentration degree in the sector, the pork processors need to face many suppliers and buyers. They usually apply spot market transactions with the small suppliers and sellers. Contracts are usually used in transaction with specialized hog producers and commercial producers in the upstream chain and with supermarkets and business agents in the downstream chain. Though similar structure exists in the pork chain, the pork processors do face different transaction characteristics in the upstream and downstream supply chains. They are confronted with more uncertainty than TSIs in managing relationships with the suppliers. Therefore, they need to establish long-term cooperative relationships with the suppliers to secure raw material supply. The degree of uncertainty thus has a significant impact on the selection of relational governance mechanisms in the upstream chain. There is less uncertainty involved in the downstream chain. To expand market and generate sales growth, the pork processors need more specific investments with the downstream customers, e.g. training employees of the customers in product management, or investments in cold chain facilities in the retail outlets. The time investment in getting to know the customers is also very critical for business operation.