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Evolution of Supply Chain Management Theory



1. About the origin of supply chain management theory

With regard to the origin of supply chain management theory, scholars' claims are not consistent.Croom et al. believe that the exact origin of SCM is not very clear, and that it has developed in two main ways. One is based on the work of Prof. Forrester, i.e., applying an industrial dynamics approach, SCM theory developed along the development of physical distribution and transportation; the other developed with the study of full costs in distribution and logistics, which is based on the research of Heckert, Miner (1940) and Lewis (1956). Although the paths and research methods of this development direction are different, they do have a common point: focusing on a single enterprise in the supply chain cannot ensure the overall efficiency improvement. Tan et al. also argue that SCM has evolved from two different aspects: one from purchasing and supply in industrial firms; and the other from the area of integrating the logistics functions of wholesalers and retailers to improve their competitive advantage. In the last decade, traditional corporate strategies have evolved along these two directions and eventually merged into the historically and strategically significant supply chain management.

2. On the development of supply chain management theory

Synthesizing the views of Tan, Croom and Hou Junpu and others, the author believes that the development of SCM has gone through three main stages of history (see Table 1). The first stage is the independent logistics distribution and logistics cost management stage, which mainly studies the physical distribution and the distribution system to downstream manufacturers. The second stage is the integrated logistics management stage, which focuses on the integration of intra-enterprise logistics and external logistics, and studies inter-enterprise procurement and supply strategies, emphasizing the strengthening of cooperative relationships. The third stage is the integrated supply chain management stage, which focuses on the study of the overall supply chain from the supplier of the supplier to the customer of the customer, emphasizing the improvement of the overall value chain efficiency and value addition.


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