Year

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Abstract

Supply chains and supply chain management continue to increase in importance, with research showing that it is supply chains that compete today, rather than individual businesses (Christopher, 2011). Supply chain management in the Australian manufacturing industry is of particular importance due to the challenges and changes being faced by manufacturing. This includes but is not limited to, declining employment figures and the decreasing percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) attributed to manufacturing, the recent closures, downsizing and offshoring of manufacturing, including the closure of automotive production plants, and downsizing of a major employer and steel manufacturer which is integral to its region as well as Australia, and the shift towards more advanced manufacturing methods with the introduction of Industry 4.0 in recent times. Manufacturing has been found to be of strategic and economic importance to the nation in which it is situated, attributed to higher standards of living, educational benefits, security, as well as being a source of competitive advantage, and foundation for innovation. The challenges faced by manufacturing have impacted on organisations large and small, including their immediate supply chains as well as those of their suppliers. Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for a large share of all businesses in Australia and provide a significant contribution to the nation through productivity, employment, and importantly, sources of innovation in which to compete. Innovation and innovative capability are imperative for businesses to compete today, and can be achieved through multiple ways such as through the introduction of innovative technology, products and processes. Also established in literature as being of importance is that of the state of supply chains, including their level of integration and maturity. Therefore, this research aimed to explore the state of supply chain maturity and innovation capability enhancement in Australian SMES in the manufacturing industry, through the adoption of innovative technology and processes.

This research begins by addressing a gap in literature through conducting an exploratory investigation into the state of supply chain maturity in Australian manufacturing SMEs. The Quick Scan Audit Methodology (QSAM), which uses mixed methods of data collection and multiple forms of triangulation, including data, researcher and method, was used in this research. Low supply chain maturity levels were discovered in the value streams of the SMEs included in this research, corresponding with international findings, revealing the need for strong supply chain management and the link between supply chain maturity levels, systems uncertainty and innovative capability. These findings provided context and a foundation for this research.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.