Increasing the Performance of SMEs in Supply Chains of Large Enterprises: A SME Perspective (Management Project)

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This thesis aims at investigating how the supply chain management (SCM) practices of large enterprises (LEs) are utilized on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This has been argued by many authors as a gap in previous literature.

Take the view from SMEs, the research questions are: Is it possible to increase the performance of SMEs in the supply chain of LEs? and How does the supply chain strategy of LEs and business strategy of SMEs match? They are all answered by an explorative case study research.

A mature supplier in production services for its large customers is used as case in this exploratory case study. Semi-structured interview was carried out as the main way to collect necessary data, besides documentation and observation. The study presents the existing interaction and problems with the SME, encountered how it formulates business strategy and the lessons that can be learned.

The research shows that communication is a key tool ensuring the efficiency of supply chain cooperation as perceived seriously by the SME. Besides, group communication is becoming more popular and efficient for partners in the supply chain due to the participation of multiple staffs in the projects and the issues need to be discussed and agreed among them.

Although LEs have good impacts on SME’s performance, for example in delivery proportion and technical ability, the deeper kinds of interaction such as exchange of personnel, committed resources investment was not found in the cooperation. Generally, the SME perceives that the usual difficulties they confront are less bargaining power, barriers to satisfy new demands from customers and the changing in customers’ decisions.

By carefully analyzing the characteristics of the SME, we suggest possible solutions such as being more active in deeper kinds of interaction with LEs, increase negotiation skills, constructing a separated unit responsible for SCM and establishing a long-term business strategy to ease these difficulties.

Taking business strategy of SMEs as an object of the research, we found main parameters the company cares about to formulate its business strategy. Comparing with literature, we suggest the company paying attention in activities of competitive market as well as the ways to take advantage of supply chain management strategies of LEs when SMEs building their business strategy.
Source: University of Gävle
Author: Nguyen Trung, Hieu | Belihu, Mekdes

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