A model to determine complexity in supply networks

Markus Gerschberger, Corinna Engelhardt-Nowitzki, Sebastian Kummer, Franz Staberhofer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to further advance an existing supplier evaluation model for the purpose of identifying those supplier relations which predominantly threaten or worsen a company's performance. A defined basic set of parameters to determine complexity facilitates the identification of critical locations within a supply network (SN) under certain business conditions. Design/methodology/approach - This paper is based on a structured literature review in scientific periodicals in logistics/supply chain management between 2000 and 2009. Articles are analysed based on a structured framework and the identified complexity parameters are operationalised using quantitative and summable measures. The conceptual model is applied within a multiple case study in the Austrian agricultural industry. Findings - This paper illustrates how complexity in SNs can be operationalised in a company-specific configuration in order to achieve concrete managerial recommendations. Hence, the model allows evaluating SN-partners based on selected parameters to determine the contribution of a single partner to the overall complexity. Research limitations/implications - Due to the literature review executed and the case study approach chosen, the research may lack generalisability. Therefore, continued validation by means of implementing a greater amount of use cases in other companies and industries is advisable. Practical implications - Applying the model, a company is able to determine tier-1 to tier-n suppliers which are predominantly affecting its business from a complexity perspective. Originality/value - Unlike typical current complexity evaluation approaches, the proposed model respects rapid and continuous applicability, profound conceptualisation and practical feasibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1037
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Agriculture
  • Austria
  • Channel relationships
  • Complexity
  • Supplier evaluation
  • Suppliers
  • Supply chain management
  • Supply networks


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