Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Sydney Business School

Abstract

The production of rice – a staple food for half the world's population – plays an increasingly vital role in providing global food security. Thailand is the world's main rice exporter, and rice cultivation is a dominant industry in the Thai economy; these two factors make Thailand vulnerable to fluctuations in demand and the increasing instability of the natural environment.

A number of studies have attempted to explain how supply chain management practices help firms maintain high supply chain performance in uncertain conditions. However, these relationships have not yet been investigated in the context of the Thai rice supply chain (TRSC). Thus, the main objective of this thesis is to develop a conceptual framework and use it to analyse the impact of uncertainty factors on supply chain management practices and supply chain performance, and the impact of supply chain management practices on supply chain performance in the TRSC.

Evidence from the literature shows that seven uncertainty factors (supply, demand, process, planning and control, competitor behaviour, government policy and climate), three supply chain management practices (strategic purchasing, LEAN principles and customer-relationship management) and two supply chain performance measures (rice quality and efficiency) are relevant in the context of the TRSC. This thesis is the first empirical study to include government policy and climate ambiguity as uncertainty factors in the TRSC.

Data was collected through a mail-out survey of Thai rice-milling and rice-exporting firms and analysed using the partial least square technique. Competitor uncertainty had the greatest negative impact on supply-chain efficiency. The relationship between demand uncertainty and supply chain performance had a significant effect on rice quality. This suggests that managers should consider the need to cope with climate change, specifically through practices such as strategic purchasing. Interestingly, uncertainty in Thai government policies does not influence the management practices or performance of the TRSC.

Finally, this thesis recommends that policy-makers should encourage TRSC members to implement supply chain management practices to improve their performance. However, since most of them are SMEs, this may limit which practices they can feasibly apply. Practitioners should thus consider putting into operation of strategic purchasing in the first instance.

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