The main goal of this research is to investigate supply chain visibility’s effects on strategic competitive advantage (using resource based view and dynamic capabilities view). Zara is used as the case to study, and the whole is studied. The role of IT systems as enablers of visibility is also investigated. Previous research has studied dyadic relationships, but did not study the whole supply chain.
Qualitative case study research design is used (inductive/interpretive approach) construct theory from data. Twelve Zara managers were interviewed using semi-structured qualitative interviews, triangulated with company documents and annual reports. Codes and categories are generated from data leading to themes, substantive framework and propositions.
This research found that supply chain visibility can lead to strategic competitive advantage if the firm executes actions necessitated by this visibility. This concept is called in this research: ‘supply chain reactivity’, and it means that the firm acts on the information shared through supply chain visibility, and not only shares it and makes it visible throughout the supply chain. The IT systems are enablers to the supply chain visibility and information sharing.
This research used Zara as the case to study because of its leadership in supply chain management and its success in ‘fast fashion’, but this study needs to be applied to other contexts and at firms other than Zara in future research. Future studies can investigate supply chain reactivity further.
Managers and organizations can benefit from the lessons learned from Zara’s success, which were revealed in this study. They can explore through this research the effects of supply chain visibility on strategic competitive advantage, as well as the value of the IT systems developed and used by Zara. The importance of supply chain reactivity explored in this research can also help managers better understand the purpose of SC visibility and information sharing.
This study is the first to investigate the whole supply chain, and not just dyadic relationships. The concept of supply chain reactivity and the role of IT systems are also contributions of this research, which can be valuable to managers and executives.
Supply chain visibility, supply chain reactivity, resource based view, dynamic capabilities view, strategic competitive advantage.