Towards a unified definition of supply chain management: the four fundamentals

Edward Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A wide range of definitions of supply chain management (SCM) have been developed over the last three decades. The philosophy of SCM is based firmly on a recognition that it is only by working in a more integrated manner that competitive advantage can be maximised. However, for this to become a reality the development of common definitions and understandings between supply chain partners is a critical success factor. The corollary of this is that a lack of definitional consistency and a common understanding is an inhibitor to the successful adoption of SCM thinking in practice. This paper reviews a number of definitions of SCM, as well as discussions and analyses of such definitions. This leads to the central point posited in the paper – the need for a ‘unified definition’. Such a definitional construct, labelled the Four Fundamentals of SCM, is proposed with the core of the paper providing a narrative description of this construct based on a wide range of literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-48
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Logistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • construct
  • definitions
  • fundamentals
  • practitioner
  • supply chain management


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