At the center of managementis the individual as an acting being, as homo agens. In supply chain management, moreover, the individual as a cooperating being, as homo co-agens, is at the center of consideration. Conscious, targeted and organized cooperation creates added value for all participants in a service network.

Managing voluntary collaborations

The core idea of Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the deep conviction that human beings achieve a new quality of human existence in joint and cooperative action. In this context, we are talking about the division of labor, specialization and the transfer of tasks, responsibilities and competencies. In supply chain management, moreover, people voluntarily enter into vertical collaborations – acting together across numerous levels of performance – with other people, taking on a role in a larger performance network and ultimately in global society that provides them with benefits themselves. Finally, added values are created for society in the sense of spontaneous order (Hayek), controlled by the global consumer.

A paradox: cooperating out of self-interest for the benefit of all

The answer to the frequently asked question of this article, what is supply chain management all about, can be as follows:

Coordination according to the old way of thinking and acting was often only a disguise for the attempt to optimize one’s own company at the expense of manufacturers, suppliers, customers or even consumers. The focus of interest was usually not on trying to find the optimum for all parties involved. One’s own problems were virtually thrown over the neighbor’s fence (Bretzke). However, if you want to continue to increase your own profits, in today’s globalized world you absolutely need the other participants of the global village. Thus, the cooperation provides the parties involved with a win-win-win situation in the best sense of the word. With the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith, we can analogously say that we do not cooperate out of naive charity, but out of justifiable self-interest. This unintentional social action (L. v. Mises) out of self-interest, however, benefits every member of society directly or indirectly.

The Philosophy of Supply Chain Management

SCM is thus the conscious and targeted design and planning of voluntary cooperation across the various service levels (original producer – manufacturer – retailer – consumer) of individual participants for the benefit of all. However, this requires not only a deep understanding that cooperation leads to benefits for all but also the acquisition of skills and adoption of tools to recognize the essential mechanisms of cooperation.

For more information, see “Logisticians of the Future” – Supply Chain Manager”.

Image source: © geralt, license: (CC0 Public Domain)

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