Supply networks project

circuit boardResearch context

This project is concerned with understanding the development and operation of supply networks for emerging industries. Studies will focus on network emergence from multiple points in the value chain including upstream new technologies, novel downstream route to market channels and emerging production systems such as global contract manufacturers.

Industries, and emerging industries in particular, are undergoing significant structural change supporting new forms of network organisation. These extended enterprises have emerged to support particular network evolutions.


Network-forms include product specific multi-firm dispersed networks, structures that support open-innovation systems, contract manufacturers supporting multiple OEMs, specialist component based industry models, mass customisation supply networks, the emergence of new service based networks, and supply networks based on new distribution channels. Each of these 'network evolutions' involves the management and operation of increasingly fragmented supply chains.


The impact of globalisation has further fragmented the traditional supply chain, creating emerging industry structures with multi-firm networks, specialised firms or actors, often globally-dispersed, requiring new integration processes for the various elements of the value chain to which they contribute. The interactions between the various elements of the 'value chain' are becoming more complex, and value creation increasingly dependent on the complex integration of the value chain as a whole. In many cases emerging-industry evolution is determined by the development of these new supply network forms.



New forms of industry networks will be explored by mapping their emerging supply chain models and how these support business model evolution. Activities will involve extending supply network mapping techniques, specifically supply network configuration mapping techniques, to capture structure and process-maturity. The project will adopt case study and process-mapping based research methodologies. Initial stages will be theory building oriented, seeking to understand the network system and key capabilities (business process routines) from a focal firm perspective. Later stages will adopt an industry-level perspective, developing new approaches for representing exemplar emerging supply networks and their possible future evolution paths.



  • Identification of supply network emergence models from both configuration and process maturity perspectives
  • Determination of appropriate configurations and performance criteria
  • Supply chain transition maps for selected configurations types
  • Tools to support firms, industry cluster organisations and development agencies

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