Nobody would deny the fact that exchange of information has become a pivotal component in most spheres of human activity. In such a way, a sphere of supply chain management is not an exception. It is necessary to note that information management is quite important to this discipline, especially in contemporary terms of development of integrated business. That is why there is a large volume of published studies that describe a role of information management in environment of a supply chain. As a consequence, it is essential to identify a distinct trend of the related studies within recent years. The current paper touches upon a critical discussion of five related articles from various peer-reviewed scholar journals in order to distinguish a real state of the study and the value of findings. The following review provides a brief summary of the articles and gives an account to the relevance of the research outcomes. Besides, a critical discussion tackles potential gaps in the research. Thus, the paper issues strength and weaknesses of the articles in order to create a basis for the evaluation of the articles’ arguments and findings that are also paid attention to. In addition, the paper suggests a direction for the future research that should be based on the findings of analysed articles.
Regarding the main findings of the outlined articles, their main research outcome is based on the fact that information management is a comprising part of successful supply chain management and logistics. Furthermore, the articles prove that on various levels. In such a way, Cooper, Lambert, and Pagh admit that supply chain management is supposed to address some aspects that belong to other spheres that are far beyond environment of a supply chain (1997). In fact, the article ‘Supply Chain Management: More than a New Name for Logistics’ is primarily focused on the communication as a comprising element of supply chain management. Communication can be referred to information management; that is why the overall findings touch upon the core of the issue. Besides that, the articles linger upon discussion of involvement of information technologies on the levels of the entire supply chain, single companies, and how the Internet can become a tool of information management. It can be primarily referred to such articles as ‘Information systems in supply chain integration and management’ and ‘E-business and supply chain management: an overview and framework’. As a consequence, the articles admit that the implementation of modern supply chain management is pivotal. That is why they pay attention to certain implications that emerge. They also suggest various strategies for addressing these implications so that integrated business becomes the primary target as it depends heavily on information technologies nowadays. As long as the issue implies a wide range of factors, the articles suggest frameworks to various extents; thus, descriptive, analytical, and practical frameworks are included. The articles consider them to be applied in one complex as the main intention of the researches is a general improvement of supply chain management.
Regarding the relevance of the articles, it should be admitted that they state a well-justified problem. There are a wide range of familiar articles that express similar ideas, but this exact selection of researches clearly states the problem and the related purpose. A drastic change in supply chain management is unavoidable as long as customer behaviour is a flexible factor. In addition, a proactive development of technologies, social media, and e-commerce make information management an essential component of contemporary supply chain management. That is why the articles suggest appropriate solutions for reaction on the issue. They also regard implementation of information technologies’ implications as challenges that should be avoided (Gunasekaran & Ngai 2003). Such position does not coincide with the main idea of the articles as they initially claim that the use of information technologies is a credible way to incorporate information management in the environment of a supply chain. By the same token, the articles do not address any inference knowledge about supply chain management. They describe and discuss their suggestion as a matter of fact while particular theoretical and empirical backgrounds are important. That makes the research outcomes quite vague as there is no distinct certainty about their factual appliance to the current state of supply chain management. Eventually, the article ‘Information Systems in Supply Chain Integration and Management’ and ‘Build-to-Order Supply Chain Management: A Literature Review and Framework for Development’ deviate from the main problem and discusses the related aspects in the context of the build-to-order supply chain management so that its findings cannot be surely applied to other cases (Gunasekaran & Ngai 2004).
To begin with, it is necessary to mention certain gaps in the selected researches. First of all, the articles do not provide a sufficient evidential basis. As a result, the outcomes of the researches cannot be directly applied to real-based cases. They include some case studies; however, they do not give an account to a theoretical background of the research problem. In other words, the articles have identified the most important problem of contemporary supply chain management, but the suggested solutions are not tied to a certain background. As a consequence, the findings are rather predictive than empirical. In addition, they do not outline distinctly the extents to which they consider the use of information technologies to be appropriate. Outlined frameworks address various dimensions of supply chain management, but they are not flexible. As it has been mentioned before, the articles assume that the frameworks should be applied in complex though. The frameworks are focused on the numerous factors of information management within the environment of a supply chain, but they are not sufficiently profound. That is why multiple gaps can be observed in ‘E-Business and Supply Chain Management: An Overview and Framework’ and ‘Build-to-Order Supply Chain Management: A Literature Review and Framework for Development’ as long as the suggestions are not oriented at long-term addressing the issue. Generally speaking, the overall findings of the papers are detached from the real context of information management in a supply chain as a technological perspective was not addressed at all while any supply chain requires a specific choice of information system, its layout, and storage.
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On the contrary, the main strength of the papers is based on their distinct ideas. Even though they are detached from a real-based context, they are clearly outlined so that they can be easily acquired in the empirical environment. In particular, the suggested frameworks are feasible, easily amendable, and understandable from the perspective of their practical appliance. Even more, an appropriate focus for the research was chosen for the papers. As it has been already mentioned, information technologies are an essential element of a modern supply chain management because information management is quite helpful in the environment of a supply chain. The articles cover a wide range of implications on that aspect; thus, they acknowledge numerous supply chain managers about unnecessary and excessive expenses on information technologies. Besides that, they address multiple perspectives of the issue so that the findings can be applied to the largest context of the issue. In consequence, the articles include case studies, explanation of empirical aspects, analytical basis of the issue, and descriptive paradigm. Apparently, the researches had an intention to deal with the problem on the global level. Taking these points into account, it should be admitted that the articles provide a multi-sided approach regarding information management in a supply chain. Thus, they managed to create a meaningful basis for the further complex research from various perspectives so that the problem can be potentially addressed to its maximal extent.
Concerning the weakness of the articles, all outlined researches seem to be detached from the objective reality. In fact, supply chain management is a flexible discipline as it is influenced by various factors from the inside. The articles regard the supply chain as a static system because the suggested frameworks do not have any particular specification. They are distinct from the perspective of their content, but the articles failed to mention to what exact cases these frameworks are recommended to be applied. That is why the overall ideas of the articles seem to be relatively weak. Needless to say, they may be applicable to a real environment of a supply chain as the frameworks need more detailed practical verification. In addition, the articles do not cover the involvement of information technologies sufficiently. A lack of in-depth discussion of relations between information technologies and supply chain management may leave certain complications concerning the implementation of the suggested frameworks. This point should be primarily referred to the perspective of integrated business as long as this segment depends heavily on information management. In the context of the articles, it is a drastic weakness because they clearly outline their orientation at supply chains for integrated business (Johnson & Wang 2002). As a result, the related researches lack one of the most essential components. In spite of these weaknesses, the articles still present a certain disciplinary value.
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The strongest argument of the articles is an assumption that supply chain management is influenced by a wide range of external factors. That is why it should be closely connected to familiar and relatively familiar disciplines in order to address its primary objectives. The understanding of this fact is valuable for the entire discipline as long as any supply chain is a dynamic system. In other words, the supply chain cannot perform properly without an interaction with the outer world. The articles place an emphasis on the strong influence of other spheres on supply chain management, especially information management. As a consequence, they consider incorporation of information technologies to be an important aspect of integration of information and supply chain management. Regarding the value of the articles’ findings, it is to be said that frameworks is an important one, but its practical appliance leaves much to be desired. Credibility of these frameworks should be verified on practice as there are numerous aspects that cause certain doubts about the effectiveness of the suggested frameworks. The lack of a compulsory background makes these findings rather vague because they leave some drastic gaps in their factual implementation. Therefore, the findings of the articles have mainly theoretical and hypothetical values. It can be a sufficient basis for the further research of these issues but from the practical perspective.
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Eventually, potential dimensions of the future research should be outlined. Regarding the findings of the researches that are related to information management in supply chain management, incorporation of information technologies in supply chains and appropriate frameworks, the further study is recommended to linger upon the specification of frameworks from the practical perspective and consideration of the most problematic settings of a supply chain environment. Namely, the further study is expected to demonstrate the work of these frameworks in terms of specific cases, to which they can be applied. It is the main gap of the current stage of the study; thus, this direction can be regarded as logical and important to the entire discipline of supply chain management. Besides that, a more detailed study of information technologies in supply chain management should be conducted. It is especially important in terms of a common strive for integrated segment of business (Jordan, Harrison & Williamson 2004). Hence, a perspective of e-commerce may emerge as integration with online-based business presupposes drastic changes within supply chain management (Cross 2000). Finally, it should be admitted that information management implies a wide range of advantages, but a current state of the interdisciplinary relations has been not formulated yet while supply chain management keeps being affected by modern technologies. That is why the primary attention is recommended to be paid to the development of classification and hierarchy of frameworks regarding information management in environment of a supply chain.