The purpose of this paper is to discuss the roles of a supply chain management (SCM) department. To achieve that, this study empirically examines the relationship between internal supply chain structure and operational performance, using survey data collected from 108 Japanese manufacturers.
Based on a literature review of not only organizational theory but also other fields such as marketing, logistics management, operations management and SCM, this study focused on two structural properties, formalization and centralization and divided operational performance to firm-centric efficiency and customer-centric responsiveness. To examine the analytical model using these dimensions, this study conducted a structural equation modeling.
The correlation between centralization of operational tasks and centralization of strategic tasks, the impacts of centralization of both tasks on formalization and the effect of formalization on responsiveness performance were demonstrated. In addition, the reasons for formalization not positively influencing efficiency performance were explored through follow-up interviews.
Manufacturers need to formalize, as much as possible, a wide range of SCM tasks to realize operational excellence. To establish such formalized working methods, it is effective to centralize the authorities of both operational and strategic tasks in a particular department. In addition, inefficiency due to strict logistics service levels is a problem that all players involved in the supply chain of various industries should work together to solve.
The theoretical contribution of this study is that the authors established an empirical process that redefined the constructs of formalization and centralization, developed these measures and examined the impacts of these structural properties on operational performance.