“An Investigation into Supply Chain Management methods to ensure Resilience of pharmaceutical Supply Chains”
The underlying structure of the world we live in is undeniably shaped by supply chains and their management. In the course of globalisation the procurement, value adding and distribution process reached new dimensions making it fundamentally important to product availability. This concept is especially vital to the consequences of pharmaceutical supplies due to their life-impacting nature for the customer (Futschik 2017). Given the complexity of supply chain management and and the challenges coming with it academic literature has directed special attention to risks and weaknesses leading to disruptions and therefore shortages (Barbosa-Povoa et al. 2019). The phenomena emerges due to various factors reaching from natural disasters over limited raw material supply or exploding demand to logistical challenges preventing products from arriving on time (Blos and Miyagi 2015). In effect, one of the links within a supply chain is interrupted or disconnected from the overall process and causes a disruption which without taking any measures would consequently lead to a default and no product output on the market. Solutions to those problems are at the core of the research aim. Academic literature generally suggests that there is a lack in research addressing supply chain management in connection with the pharmaceutical industry (Brenner 2015). In addition, Barbosa Povoa et al. (2019) indicate that not all pharmaceutical supply chains work at their optimum and leave space for improvement, not least because key players are not collaborating sufficiently. The method to collect primary data in this dissertation is described by qualitative semi-structured interviews. Using semi-structured interviews allows the researcher to ask open-ended questions and therefore address more specific 2 and detailed topics (Zikmund et al. 2013). These attributes are of essence in this case due to the various aspects of supply chain management, and the emergent nature of both, practice and research. Furthermore, being able to prepare the interview question guide beforehand increases the ability to interpret results after competition of the entire process (Zikmund et al. 2013). The findings discovered that pharmaceutical supply chains share the same major risks pattern as other, unspecified supply chains since they are based on the same concept of outsourcing certain tasks for organisational or monetary benefits even though industry specific characteristics like high R&D expenses, cold chains and regulatory requirements are depicting additional forces of possible disruptions. Possibilities from technological developments like applications provided by SAP or Oracle are at the centre of counteracting activities in order to improve resilience. At the same time this displays other risks arising from being dependent on software tools. On this basis it is important to consider the omnipresent decision of what is to be traded off by utilising supply chains. Given negative impacts as mentioned and to be added by for example IT interface, training of staff, existing infrastructure and communication intensity are disadvantages which are accepted in the context of the greater good; the supply chain’s enhanced efficiency (Christopher 2016).