Vulnerability and robustness of SME supply chains: An empirical study of risk and disturbance management of fresh food processors in a developing market

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The aim of this paper is to analyse vulnerability and robustness of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) supply chains and to consider contextual factors that might influence the success of their disturbance management: Risky product and business environment. By using an exploratory case study it is shown how these contextual factors attribute vulnerability sources, contribute to the robustness of a company’s performance and supply chain vulnerability, as well as how a company seeks to manage internal and external vulnerability sources. The exploratory case is based on a fresh food supply chain of a manufacturing SME operating in a developing market.
Case findings suggest that fresh food supply chains of a manufacturing SME in developing markets are prone to disruptions of their logistics and production processes due to ‘riskiness’ of fresh food products, the ‘riskiness’ of developing markets, as well as ‘riskiness’ of SMEs themselves. However, this does not necessarily indicate the vulnerability of an SME and its entire supply chain. Findings indicate that SMEs can be very successful in disturbance management by selective use of redesign strategies that aim to prevent or reduce the impact of disturbances. More precise, it is likely that an SME can achieve robust performance by employing preventive redesign strategies in managing disturbances that result from internal, company related vulnerability sources, while impact reduction strategies are likely to contribute to robust performance of an SME if used to manage disturbances that result from internal, supply chain related vulnerability sources, as well as external vulnerability sources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrganisational Resilience: Concepts, Integration, and Practice
EditorsRan Bhamra
PublisherCRC press, Taylor and Francis
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4822-3357-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-4822-3356-8
Publication statusPublished - 05 Oct 2015


  • Disturbances,
  • Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs)
  • Risky food products
  • Vulnerability sources
  • Redesign strategies
  • Developing countries
  • Fresh food
  • Food producers
  • Manufacturing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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