• lack of clearly defined, mutually acceptable goals

  • cultural incompatibilities

  • poor communications

  • lack of clearly identified mutual benefits

  • lack of in-depth commitment to and nurturing of relationships

  • lack of metrics or inappropriate metrics for evaluating performance

  • incompatibility of capabilities in communications and/or electronic design technologies

  • lack of, or breakdown in, mutual trust and respect

  • clashing corporate cultures

  • legal barriers, including intellectual property, liability, and antitrust issues

  • government procurement policies and regulations

Forces beyond the control of supply chain partners can sometimes undermine the best efforts at integration. The ability to foresee these challenges, understand the capabilities and limitations of supply chain participants, and formulate effective responses are critical skills for supply chain managers. With these skills and an understanding of the dynamics and interrelationships of the supply chain, timely, effective responses to disruptions and imbalances can be implemented.

Supply chain effectiveness can always be improved. The challenge is to prioritize opportunities correctly, allocate scarce resources, and devote the time and expertise necessary to harvest these opportunities. SMEs that understand supply chain integration and carefully pursue the right opportunities can achieve a substantial competitive advantage.


Participation in integrated supply chains requires management skills that may be different from the command-and-control style of management found in many traditional SMEs. A change from the command-and-control style to a leadership-and-facilitation style can be difficult, especially in a privately owned SME. According to Bellman in Getting Things Done when You Are NOT in Charge, participants must learn to work in support of the goals of the integrated chain while simultaneously striving to realize the goals of the individual enterprise. At times, an SME may have to compromise aspects of its independence in the interest of "team play" and consensus. Moving from a command-and-control model to a model characterized by shared interests, shared resources, and shared risk may be uncomfortable for traditional managers and can require considerable time and effort (Bellman, 1993).

Managing in the "information age" also requires skills in guiding the

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement