Responsiveness through buyer-focused cells: Exploring a new supply strategy

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Purpose - The concept of buyer focus has recently been introduced as a new supply chain strategy, although the design and operation of buyer-focused cells have hardly been investigated. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how buyer-focused cells realise responsiveness.

Design/methodology/approach - The paper explores the origins of buyer focus by synthesising the literature on focus and supply chain management (SCM). The recent model of responsiveness by Holweg is used to analyse two cases in the semi-conductor industry. Based on the literature and the case-findings the model is further developed.

Findings - The main findings of the paper are that: the model of responsiveness can be used to better understand buyer-focused cells as a supply chain strategy, but needs to be enhanced with additional elements; two of the dimensions of Holweg's model (product and volume) seem to determine the third (process) dimension; designing and operating buyer-focused cells is a blend of well-chosen and proven solutions combined with close integration with the buyer.

Research limitations/implications - The extended model and the operation of buyer-focused cells need further refinement and research using the key factors so far established.

Practical implications - The paper explores both the contingency factors and the major design and operating factors related to a new supply chain strategy (buyer-focused cells) which is aimed at increasing responsiveness, and investigates two practical cases. Managers can use the developed framework to better understand their own situation and guide decision making.

Originality/value - The paper aims at further developing and understanding the responsiveness of buyer-focused cells by drawing on previous contributions in the literature on SCM and the focused factory. Through this, the authors add to the theory of responsiveness and to empirical knowledge on the design and operation of buyer-focused cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1362-1379
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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