Ximeng Sun, Ray Collins


Managed supply chain systems typically begin from business-to-business relationships which over time expand to encompass more and more parts of the chain. Harland (1996) first classified supply chains in terms of four sequential levels of management and integration: a firm’s internal integration (level 1); buyer - supplier integration (level 2); through - chain integration (level 3); and network integration (level 4). Globalization has spawned cross hemisphere and cross country supply chains that operate in a far more dynamic and influential external environment than ever before. Evidence is accumulating that this external environment significantly impacts on supply chain performance at all four levels of integration, but in different ways at each level. It impacts least at level 1, and most at level 4. This paper shows that in level 2 and 3 China-Australia agrifood supply chains, the influence on whole-of-chain performance of the external environment of the country itself is more powerful than the influence of within-chain relationships. This finding suggests that firms engaging in relationship management at the chain level need to take a more holistic approach. Managing within-chain relationships is necessary but insufficient unless it is done in the context of the chain and its external environment as a dynamic system.


system performance; supply chain management; external environment; agrifood chains; relationship management

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