The Nature of Supply Networks

Supply chains are networks. The concept of the supply chain is an oversimplification of the complex dynamics involved between the individuals, organizations, and resources required to produce and deliver a product. No firm exists in isolation, and every firm must operate in connection with other firms. As firms work together, they become organized into supply networks.

Written by a leading authority on supply chain management, The Nature of Supply Networks synthesizes decades of research to understand supply networks as a complex adaptive system. Incorporating network concepts and theories, Thomas Y. Choi describes the basic structural elements of supply networks and their organization--buyer-supplier relationships, supplier-supplier relationships, supply bases, and extended supply chains--and examines the dynamic and evolutionary patterns of supply networks. He then considers a host of specific issues: control vs. emergence, nexus suppliers, and cyber security, as well as how supply networks will evolve with increased disruptions from extreme weather patterns, trade wars, and other unforeseen events. Importantly, Choi also provides an in-depth look into the distributive nature of supply chain management, arguing that no one firm or government can completely orchestrate entire supply networks. Bringing together the concepts of network theory and
extending them specifically to supply chains and buyer-supplier relationships, Choi provides a critical resource on how to strategically manage supply networks and to create more resilience.


Thomas Choi is the AT&T Professor of supply chain management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. As a researcher of supply chain management, he is a pioneer in the study of the upstream side of supply chains, in which a buying company interfaces with many suppliers organized into various forms of networks. He has published articles in the Academy of Management Executive, Decision Sciences Journal, Decision Support Systems, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management, Journal of Operations Management, Journal of Supply Chain Management, Production and Operations Management, and others.

Praise for this book

The Nature of Supply Networks takes us through the fascinating world of supply networks, using an interdisciplinary lens from complexity science and operations management. The result is a unique and powerful combination of firm-level perspectives, complex triadic relationships, and the wider, emergent ecosystems. This is a timely and important book that guides a research agenda for supply chain management in an increasingly volatile world. A must-read for both scholars and practitioners.

Alexandra Brintrup University of Cambridge

Business resilience is anchored on having a solid supply network. Choi provides the foundational framework combined with new theoretical developments and practical insights on how to build a first-class supply network. Understanding the complex supply networks and building collaborative relationships can enable companies to orchestrate the supply network for resilience, and managing it as an adaptive system allows the network to jointly become an engine of innovation and value creation. This is a great book for supply chain leaders, practitioners, and researchers.

Hau Lee Stanford University
Cover of "The Nature of Supply Networks"
Date published
Oxford University Press

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