Supply Chain Integration improves performance - The emperor’s new suit?


  • Fabbe-Costes Nathalie
  • Jahre Marianne


  • Supply chain management
  • Integration
  • Performance levels

document type



Purpose – In the literature authors state that there is a positive relation between supply chain integration (SCI) and performance. They claim that this relation is widely discussed and supported empirically. Other authors, however, suggest that integration might be more difficult in practice than in theory, that it should be differentiated and that it is more rhetoric than reality. As integration has been core of logistics and supply chain management since the 1980s, the purpose of this paper is to investigate these somewhat contradictory statements and analyse prior studies regarding definitions and measures of integration and performance as well as the reported empirical evidence on their relation. Design/methodology/approach – Based on an extensive and systematic review of integration articles within four highly ranked academic journals in logistics, supply chain and operations management, this paper presents and discusses the results of prior empirical studies on relations between integration and performance. Findings – The analysis of the relevant articles indicates that empirical evidence cannot permit to clearly conclude and that integration as well as performance is defined, operationalised and measured in different and often limited ways. This might be a problem and the paper concludes with a provoking question of whether SCI might be the Emperors’ New Suit of business. Originality/value – The paper’s departure point is a controversial hypothesis: the contribution of SCI is not as obvious as logistics and supply chain researchers usually think. The rigorous selection and analysis of previous studies contributes with systematic knowledge within an important question.

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