How Can Supply Management Really Improve Performance? A Knowledge-Based Model of Alignment Capabilities

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Prior research has underscored the importance of internal and external supply chain integration, but the growing role of the supply management organization in developing this capability is not well specified. In this research, we explore the concept of supply management alignment, defined as the behavioral characteristics and process requirements for understanding and explicitly outlining internal stakeholder needs, and linking these to supplier performance agreements. Using the lens of dynamic capabilities, we propose a theoretical model for creating supply management alignment. This model presents the synergistic effects derived through strong internal lines of communication combined with external supply relationships based on defined metrics and processes. The underlying set of requirements to achieve supply management alignment is proposed and tested in this model, thereby enhancing our understanding of the processes and behaviors required for integration of internal stakeholder needs with external suppliers, which can lead to improved performance. We explore the complementary effects of supply management alignment on network agility and supplier performance improvements. Data from 151 UK manufacturing firms are used to test the model. The results provide a unifying framework tying together many of the prescriptive elements of strategic sourcing into a more coherent theoretical model and establish the basis for future studies of supply management alignment capabilities.