Collaborative relationships in supply chains
This thesis is about developing a better understanding of an emergent practice to tackle the issue of competitiveness, that is, collaboration and efficient relationships between organisations in a supply chain. It provides a model for optimising relationships between companies and defines the operational practices that these companies should adopt in order to efficiently develop desirable relationships. This research project starts with the definition of the gap in knowledge identified through an exploratory process. The findings of the review of the literature in supply chain management and collaboration together with an empirical study carried out in 10 organisations suggest that further research is required to: (1) analyse the nature and characteristics of different relationship types between organisations, (2) study the operational implications of these relationship types, (3) analyse the factors that influence these relationships, and (4) make more desirable the relationships between companies depending on their characteristics. This study falls into the applied research category. As a result, specific research strategies and methods were rigorously selected to study a current industrial problem and provide a suitable solution. This thesis makes a novel contribution to existing knowledge through deduction from theory and empirical evidence from five case studies. The key contribution is as follows: 1. There are five relationship types between organisations. 2. Each of these relationship types has a set of strategic, tactical and operational, 'hard' and 'soft' characteristics. 3. 'Value' and 'risk' factors define what relationships a company should develop. 4. There are 12 critical factors that define what relationships a company can develop. 5. The proposed model facilitates the definition of desirable organisational relationship at a process level, including a set of operational practices for implementation. This thesis also defines the criteria required for ensuring the quality and validity of the research process and its output. These criteria are considered throughout all the different stages of this study. The thesis ends outlining the main conclusions and the validity of the research project.