A Social Network Analysis of the Journal of Supply Chain Management: Knowledge Generation, Knowledge Diffusion and Thought Leadership

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The field of purchasing has been viewed as an independent function for well over 100 years (Fearon 1968) and as a distinct profession since 1915--the year in which the National Association of Purchasing Agents was founded (Leenders, Fearon and England 1989). Further, the field of purchasing has been viewed as a scholarly discipline since at least 1965 when the first article appeared in the Journal of Purchasing, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that is now the Journal of Supply Chain Management. During this 40-year period, authors have periodically examined the evolution of the field by reviewing the subject categories, research design and methodologies of articles which have appeared in the Journal (Williams and Oumlil 1987; Carter and Ellram 2003). These articles have helped to summarize the state of the field through an examination of the research which had been published in the Journal, and in so doing have also provided guidance for future research in the field. While the work of Williams and Oumlil and Carter and Ellram investigated the content of published articles in the Journal, these papers did not explicitly examine the patterning of the citations and the changing communication patterns of the citations from those articles appearing in the Journal. The objective of this research is to fill that gap.

The broad goal of citation analysis is to better understand communication patterns within a scientific discipline (Yaru 1997). More specifically, citation analysis allows a researcher to examine citations made to and from journals which can explain and clarify flows of communication across scholarly disciplines and among the academic institutions which generate this knowledge (Phillips and Phillips 1998). This technique is often applied to the leading scholarly journal within a scientific discipline (e.g., Phillips, Baumgartner and Pieters 1999). Unlike raw frequency counts of published articles, a citation analysis can more accurately capture the value of these publications, with the idea that articles which make a greater contribution to a scientific field tend to be cited more often (Phillips and Phillips 1998).

A potential, complementary technique, called social network analysis (SNA), can be used to further understand these flows of communication and exchanges of information among actors (Everett and Pecotich 1991; Autry and Griffis 2005), where actors can be defined as individuals within an organization, organizations within a supply chain or in the case of a citation analysis, academic institutions within a scholarly discipline. In combination, this methodology can be used to model every connection between all of the institutions in an academic knowledge network, by examining the sending and receiving patterns of citations within the network (Phillips and Phillips 1998). SNA can also be used to identify what Burt (1982) refers to as the "invisible college" in a scientific community--a tightly knit sub-network of members at the center of knowledge generation within an area or field of research.

Despite the potential value of SNA for better understanding how knowledge is generated and diffused, and how supply management as a scholarly discipline has evolved, this methodology has not yet been used in the research appearing in the Journal. This study addresses this gap by examining the following research objectives:

Research Objective 1: To track the number of citations appearing in individual articles over time.

The authors' expectation is that as the field of supply management and the Journal have matured over time, research appearing in the Journal would be more theoretically rich and methodologically sophisticated, resulting in an increased number of citations per article.

Research Objective 2: To track the percent of cited articles from different fields over time.

The purpose of assessing the percent of cited articles from different fields over time is to better understand the field(s) from which the supply management body of knowledge has relied upon to develop models and integrate theories used to explain managerial behavior and supply management phenomena. …