Supply networks and complex adaptive systems: Control versus emergence

Thomas Choi, Kevin Dooley, Manus Rungtusanatham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

750 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In much of the current literature on supply chain management, supply networks are recognized as a system. In this paper, we take this observation to the next level by arguing the need to recognize supply networks as a complex adaptive system (CAS). We propose that many supply networks emerge rather than result from purposeful design by a singular entity. Most supply chain management literature emphasizes negative feedback for purposes of control; however, the emergent patterns in a supply network can much better be managed through positive feedback, which allows for autonomous action. Imposing too much control detracts from innovation and flexibility; conversely, allowing too much emergence can undermine managerial predictability and work routines. Therefore, when managing supply networks, managers must appropriately balance how much to control and how much to let emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2001

Fingerprint

Adaptive control systems
Adaptive Systems
Complex Systems
Supply chain management
Supply Chain Management
Feedback
Adaptive systems
Managers
Innovation
Positive Feedback
Negative Feedback
Predictability
Flexibility
Complex adaptive systems
Supply network

Keywords

  • Chaos theory
  • Complexity theory
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Operations strategy
  • Purchasing/operations interface
  • Supplier management
  • Supply network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation

Cite this

Supply networks and complex adaptive systems : Control versus emergence. / Choi, Thomas; Dooley, Kevin; Rungtusanatham, Manus.

In: Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 19, No. 3, 05.2001, p. 351-366.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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