Academic journal article Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Toward the Inter-Organizational Product Information Supply Chain - Evidence from the Retail and Consumer Goods Industries*

Academic journal article Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Toward the Inter-Organizational Product Information Supply Chain - Evidence from the Retail and Consumer Goods Industries*

Article excerpt

Since the 1980s, the retail and consumer goods industries have been making very extensive use of EDI-based data exchange and subsequently developed the vision of Efficient Consumer Response (ECR). In the meantime, a growing number of studies report that poor data quality, in particular outdated or wrong product information, negatively impacts demand and supply chain performance. Whereas prior literature intensively studied the positive effects of information sharing on the coordination of supply and demand, this research is aimed at establishing a basis for understanding the phenomena of the underlying inter-organizational product information supply chain. Using coordination theory as an overarching framework, the main research contribution is a set of dependencies, coordination problems, and coordination mechanisms that characterize the product information supply chain. From an analysis of two retailer-manufacturer relationships, we conclude that flow and sharing dependencies evolve into reciprocal dependencies as the intensity of demand and supply collaboration increases. We also find that industry standards - notably Global Data Synchronization (GDS) - do not yet fully cover the inter-organizational coordination requirements that result from the identified set of sharing and flow dependencies.

Keywords: Efficient Consumer Response (ECR), Global Data Synchronization (GDSN), Information Supply Chain, Inter-Organizational Systems (IOS), Industry Standards, Master Data, Retail-Supplier Relationships

1. Introduction

Most practitioners and the academic community agree that integrated supply chains heavily rely on the exchange and sharing of information between the actors. A prominent example is the collaboration between the retail and consumer goods industries. Since the 1980s, these industries have been making very extensive use of EDI-based data exchange and subsequently developed the vision of Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) in order to align their activities more closely. In the context of ECR (cf. Corsten and Kumar, 2005; Holweg et al., 2005; Kurnia and Johnston, 2003; Reyes and Bhutta, 2005) as well as in IS (cf. Clark and Stoddard, 1996; Gosain et al., 2004; Saeed et al., 2005) and operations management research (cf. Aviv, 2001; Cohen Kulp et al., 2004; Gavirneni et al., 1999; Lee et al., 2000; Sahin and Robinson, 2002), much attention has been given to the coordination of supply and demand chains and the benefits of information sharing. It is only recently that the underlying exchange of product information has started to gain broader attention: A growing number of studies report that poor data quality, in particular outdated or wrong product information, negatively impacts the benefits that retailers and their suppliers pursue as they implement tighter forms of collaboration (Accenture, 2006; Global Commerce Initiative and Capgemini, 2005; Grocery Manufacturers of America et al., 2003). Various alternative concepts have been suggested as electronic infrastructure for exchanging product information among supply chain partners. But up to now, neither the EDI-based, bilateral product data exchange nor data pools that facilitate multilateral data exchange have been broadly adopted (Horst, 2007; Nakatani et al., 2006). In 2004, the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) was launched with the objective of establishing many-to-many relationships between retailers and their suppliers for sharing product master data. Retailers and suppliers have high expectations for the GDSN, given the recent consolidation of master data pools (Garf and Romanow, 2005) and announcements in favor of GDSN by leading retailers such as Wal- Mart, Ahold, Tesco and Metro and their suppliers Nestl?, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods (Field, 2005; Pendrous, 2006).

Building on the vision of the information supply chain as suggested by (Marinos, 2005; Sun and Yen, 2005), this research suggests differentiating two sets of information sharing and coordination problems in the retail and consumer goods industries: (1) the transactional information flow that allows for coordinating the physical demand and supply chain, and (2) the contextual information flow that ensures that retailers and manufacturers interpret data in the same way (Goh et al. …

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