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Theory Development in China-based Supply Chain Management Research: a Literature Review
As the largest transitional economy in the world, China presents interesting opportunities for theory construction and testing in the field of business management. Supply chain management (SCM) is still a relatively new discipline in China and so still draws heavily on theories developed in other parts of the world, particularly the US and Europe. The aim of this paper is to explore the extent to which the application and the development of SCM theory can be furthered in this unique context.
The research involved a systematic review of 132 papers published in 18 journals, focusing on supply chain management, logistics, operations management and marketing during the period 2004-2013. In order to select articles for review, a three-step process was undertaken of journal selection, article identification and coding by theory.
China presents new challenges for supply chain researchers. Many researchers have conducted quasi-experiments to test the applicability of existing theories of SCM studies while others have tried to develop new ones more closely aligned with the Chinese economy and management practices. Numerous theories have been borrowed from other fields to try to explain SCM phenomena in China but relatively few studies have attempted to build new theories.
The paper provides a general framework within which to assess the application and development of SCM theory in the Chinese context. Three components are targeted primarily: the SCM phenomena studied, the Chinese business environment, and the theorising pathway. The insights gained from this research may help to guide future research in this area. The study is the first of its kind to review China-based SCM research systematically from the perspective of theory development. It not only progresses China-based SCM theoretically, but also contributes to the development of SCM theory more generally.
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