Supply Management: is it a discipline?

C. M. Harland, Richard C. Lamming, Helen Walker, Wendy E. Phillips, Nigel D. Caldwell, Thomas E. Johnsen, Louise A. Knight, Jurong Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


To examine management literature for guidance on what constitutes a discipline. To examine supply management publications to determine whether the field constitutes a discipline or an emerging discipline. To contribute a structured evaluation to the body of supply management theory/discipline development knowledge.

Literature review of what constitutes a discipline and an initial assessment of whether supply management is a discipline. Development of research questions used to design tests, using combinations of qualitative pattern matching, journal quality rankings, and social science citations index impact factor. Application of the tests, to evaluate field coherence, quality and the existence of a discipline‐debate, to determine whether supply management is an emerging discipline.

An initial literature review finds supply management not to be a discipline, as the field lacks quality of theoretical development and discussion, and coherence. Tests for increasing evidence of coherence, quality and impact yield positive results, indicating that supply management is progressing in its theoretical development. The test findings combined with the existence of the start of a discipline‐debate indicate that supply management should be judged to be an emerging discipline.

Drawing from the management literature, the paper provides a unique structured evaluation of the field of supply management, finding it not to be a discipline, but showing evidence of being an emerging discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-753
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Supply chain management
  • Suppliers
  • Supplier relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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