Supply networks and complex adaptive systems: control versus emergence (unpaywalled)

Abstract: In much of the current literature on supply chain management, supply networks are recognized as a system. In this paper, we take this observation to the next level by arguing the need to recognize supply networks as a complex adaptive system (CAS). We propose that many supply networks emerge rather than result from purposeful design by a singular entity. Most supply chain management literature emphasizes negative feedback for purposes of control; however, the emergent patterns in a supply network can much better be managed through positive feedback, which allows for autonomous action. Imposing too much control detracts from innovation and flexibility; conversely, allowing too much emergence can undermine managerial predictability and work routines. Therefore, when managing supply networks, managers must appropriately balance how much to control and how much to let emerge.

#Infrastructure #Complexity #Networks