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Emerald award for paper on procurement and operations strategy

03 July 2015

A paper by Martin Spring, co-authored with Luis Araujo, has been highly commended in the 2015 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.

The paper, “Indirect capabilities and complex performance: implications for procurement and operations strategy”, was published in the International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 34, Issue 2, 2014 and is currently available on free access here.

It argues that, because contemporary operations work in conditions of chronic uncertainty, they often cannot develop and implement long-term strategic plans in the traditional way.  Therefore,  they must be adept at engaging with, working with and disconnecting from immediate counterparts in their supply network as circumstances change. This requires so-called “indirect capabilities” - the ability to access other organisations' capabilities.

Six inter-related elements of indirect capabilities are discussed in the paper: IT infrastructure, boundary management practices, contracting, interface artefacts, valuing others’ capabilities and relating direct to indirect capabilities. These are what managers should focus on to make their organisation "play well with others".  

Martin Spring said: “Luis and I are delighted to receive this recognition. The paper is in some ways an homage to Edith Penrose and to Brian Loasby, who first used the term 'indirect capabilities'. But we hope we have given the idea a slightly more concrete form.”