A multiple case study of small business upstream supply chain uncertainties in rapid productization

DS 75-3: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13) Design For Harmonies, Vol. 3: Design Organisation and Management, Seoul, Korea 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Finland; 2: Oulu Southern Institute, Micro-Entrepreneurship Research Group, University of Oulu, Finland
Page(s): 131-140
ISBN: 978-1-904670-46-9
ISSN: 2220-4334


This study aims at highlighting the use of upstream supply chain in Rapid Productization (RP) by analyzing upstream supply chain practices in small firms. RP is a process of quickly supplementing a company’s product or service offering to meet unexpected customer needs. A well-managed upstream supply chain network is a critical facilitator of RP for a small business. Selection of an upstream supplier during an RP process escalates the level of risk in fulfilling customer’s needs. To avoid the mistakes resulting from the selection of the supplier, the company should use a smaller variety of suppliers and choose products that the suppliers know they can fulfill. Due to the nature of RP use, established supplier network resources are recommended. We also find evidence that a company’s performance is positively associated with the use of RP. This study contributes to the research domain of professional supply chain and product/service development by applying the development-as-practice approach to the study of practices that are resorted to by the company's management as well as sales, supply chain and R&D managers.

Keywords: Rapid productization, small business, decision making, portfolio management, product life cycle management


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