Academic journal article Journal of Supply Chain Management

Collaborative New Product Development Environments: Implications for Supply Chain Management

Academic journal article Journal of Supply Chain Management

Collaborative New Product Development Environments: Implications for Supply Chain Management

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Much has been written on the subject of supply chain management (SCM) but the reality is that there is a lag between practice and theory (Bagchi and Skjoett-Larsen 2002; Geary, Childerhouse and Towill 2002; Poirier and Quinn 2004). One example is the lack of progress in achieving an integrated approach to new product development (NPD) despite testimony that this objective should be of paramount importance to upper management (Ettlie 1997) and supply chain managers (Anderson and Lee 2001; Rogers, Lambert and Knemeyer 2004). Recent research by Tracey (2004) demonstrates that many manufacturers do not take a genuinely integrative approach to NPD despite the topic's intuitive appeal and the attention it has received in the business literature since the 1980s.

The advantage of nurturing integration across functional areas and firms has been promoted in the business literature for some time (Porter and Millar 1985; Goldhar, Jelinek and Schlie 1991; Hayes and Pisano 1994; Hammer 2001). Integration in the context of SCM is defined as "interaction and collaboration between departments and organizations to achieve shared supply chain goals" (Cooper and Tracey 2005, p. 240). The main goal of providing products and services of value to customers is facilitated through integration of the supply chain (Mentzer 2004; Ross 2006; Walters 2006). Unfortunately, acknowledging and acting on this philosophy of general collaboration with a focus on the customer is difficult for many managers who are traditionally rewarded financially and otherwise by maximizing localized efficiencies (Doll and Vonderembse 1991).

Moving the firm toward genuine SCM requires top management leadership and changes in strategic direction and planning (Hammer 2001; Power 2005). This is the case in attaining an integrated NPD process, which is an important element of successful SCM (Mejza and Wisner 2001; Rogers et. al. 2004). Even an initial step such as integrating suppliers into the process represents a major adjustment to internal attitudes and procedures that must be accepted throughout the organization in advance (Twigg 1998; Handfield, Ragatz, Petersen and Monczka 1999). This research examines the impact of nurturing an organizational setting of internal collaboration and teamwork on integrated NPD, and consequently customer satisfaction. The intention is to supply stimulus for change by demonstrating some of the real advantages to be gained from developing a collaborative NPD environment.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Wynstra, Van Weele and Weggemann (2001) suggest that the extent to which an organization is willing and able to move toward integrated NPD depends on how far it has evolved in terms of overall cross-functional and process thinking. Thus, a major first step for many managers is to effectively coordinate their organizations internally (Bowersox, Closs and Stank 2003; Moberg and Speh 2003; Poirier and Quinn 2004).

Figure 1 provides the explanatory/theoretical model on which this investigation is based. The box on the left (Collaborative NPD Environment) depicts two dimensions that constitute a cooperative workplace within the context of NPD. "Interdepartmental connectedness" is a term referred to by Sethi and Nicholson (2001) to capture the extent to which a firm's culture facilitates communication and contact across functional areas. It is a type of organizational setting characterized by open information sharing, relationships that bridge area boundaries and behavior that conveys other parties are valued members of the enterprise. Such a setting helps generate an overall internal attitude of trust (Fawcett, Magnan and Williams 2004). Interfunctional biases and stereotypes are reduced and organizational members are more receptive to cross-functional arrangements such as a "team approach to NPD," the second dimension. The Collaborative NPD Environment construct may be considered an independent variable that is expected to ultimately explain a portion of the variance in the dependent variable (Customer Satisfaction). …

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