Leveraging information technology in the supply chain for organisational transformation : a meta analysis of the supply chain literature

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (IS)


Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Professor Craig Standing


Information technology (IT) has been used extensively by organisations in the supply chain (SC) to improve efficiency, control and competitive advantage. Research on this innovation has often neglected the drivers, facilitators and risks associated with the approaches adopted. In response, this research investigated and classified approaches to using IT in the SC and identified key drivers, facilitators and risks with each strategy. It forms a model to guide researchers and practitioners In the use of IT in the SC for organisational change. Leveraging investments in IT to improve SC efficiencies is complex and requires a well defined strategy that is supported by the drivers, facilitators, and risks (three variables) addressed in this study. In addition, organisations have different ambitions in relation to these investments with some aiming to make minor cost reductions whilst others aim to transform the organisa1ion through radical supply chain development. This ·research places special emphasis on the characteristics of IT and supply chain strategies that lead to organisational transformation. The main research question for this thesis is: How can firms most effectively leverage Information Technology Investments in the supply chain? A grounded theory approach has been used to build theory from journal articles published in 1997-2007 inclusive. A comprehensive meta-analysis of research articles, dealing with IT use In the SC and organisational change, from a broad range of academic business and scientific journals was undertaken to identify the drivers, facilitators and risks associated with leveraging IT Investments in the SC. The outcome of the meta-analysts is a model for IT use in the SC for organisational change. The results of the meta-analysis suggest that investment Inn in the SC cannot be successful unless the drivers of IT use are understood properly and the facilitating conditions are developed before using IT. A comprehensive list of drivers was reduced to ten key factors: 'improvement of Information quality', 'supply chain cost reduction', 'better decision making', 'reduction of cycle time and lead time', satisfaction of high quality service', 'real-time information accessibility', 'increased operational capability', 'sharing risks with others, 'market sharing and expansion', and 'better relationships with suppliers and individuals'. In a similar approach, ten critical facilitators were identified: 'firm's dynamic capability', 'enterprise application linkages through the chain', 'network of partnering firms or suppliers', 'willingness and trust of the partners and users', 'conductive culture of knowledge and information sharing', 'universally usable and accessible-systems and services', 'management guidance and trainings', 'expertise and experience', 'high levels of implementation planning', and 'community of users and suppliers for learning and sharing'. The key risks are also identified as these act as major constraints to the successful investment of IT in SC: 'poor ·understanding of firm's capability', 'inability to build trust between the SC partners and individuals', 'insufficient willingness of information sharing and support', 'lack of top management capability', 'incapability of managing sensitive data', and 'lack of control over the increased interdependencies'. Together these factors determine the overall level of success in relation to IT investment in the SC. Several SC strategies were identified and their characteristics defined as they form the basis of a model of IT use in the SC. These strategies include a low complexity cost reduction approach, a medium complexity collaborative approach, and a high complexity transformational approach. A key contribution of this thesis is the models and frameworks related to using IT in the SC. These provide significant directives for planning successful IT investment in the SC and related organisational transformation.

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