Toward a theory of multi-tier supply chain management

Carlos Mena, Andrew Humphries, Thomas Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

319 Scopus citations


Recent trends toward outsourcing and global sourcing have created longer, more complex and more fragmented supply chains. In this research, we aim to instigate a theoretical development of multi-tier supply chain (MSC) management by adopting an inductive case study research design. Following a multiple case research design, we investigate three-tier supply chains to develop a theory of MSC management. Each of the investigated supply chains consists of a buyer, supplier and supplier's supplier. Based on the case studies, propositions are built concerning how MSCs operate. As an underlying methodology, we first conduct a within-case analysis and then expand that analysis to the cross-case context. The results show the impact that the dynamics of the MSC have on power balance, structure, interdependence and relationship stability inherent in MSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-77
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Buyer/supplier relationships
  • Case studies
  • Inductive research
  • Multi-tier supply chain management
  • Networks
  • Partnering
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Supplier management
  • Triadic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Marketing


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