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Competing upstream: Inbound logistics as a source of competitive advantage

By Steven Andrew Samaras


This dissertation explores a new competitive arena which shifts focus from competition for customers, where advantages are becoming harder to find and sustain, towards competitive advantage through control of inbound logistics. Supply chain management, industrial/organizational economics, transaction cost economics, and the resource-based view support how inbound logistics activities may relate to cost advantages, access to demanded quantifies of limited inputs, quicker delivery of inputs, and customized presentations of inputs. These advantages can support the competitive strategies and supplement downstream competitive actions employed by firms. This study investigates the utilization of this alternative perspective on competition. Recognizing that early movers within competitive industries may be able to seize a disproportionate share of bargaining power over suppliers, this dissertation sought answers to the question—Can and do firms utilize control of inbound logistics activities as a source of competitive advantage? Results of an analysis of 80 responses to a questionnaire suggest that control of inbound logistics represents a small but statistically significant portion of firms\u27 efforts toward the achievement of competitive advantages. Sixty-five of eighty respondents (81.25%) agreed that competition for supply of critical inputs was of strategic importance. Cost, speed of delivery, and customization advantages were significantly related to inbound logistics activities; access to supply and choice of strategy were not. Effect sizes, although small, reflect an emergent form of competition which may have great future potential. Over 11% of the variation in cost advantages was related to control of inbound logistics, as was 4.42% with speed and 4.81% with customization advantages. The study supports that some firms are effectively using inbound logistics as a source of competitive advantage. This study also supports calls for the involvement of operational units in the planning stages of the strategic management process; rather than being considered only as an implementation issue

Topics: Management
Publisher: DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Year: 2000
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