Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 28 Number 2 2011 pp. 75-108

Through a Glass Clearly: Standards, Architecture, and Process Transparency in Global Supply Chains

Steinfield, Charles W, Markus, M Lynne, and Wigand, Rolf T

ABSTRACT: Despite evidence that a lack of interoperable information systems results in enormous costs, development, implementation, and effective use of interorganizational systems (IOS) remain an elusive goal for many companies. Lack of interoperability across systems is especially problematic for manufacturers dependent on global supply chains. We develop propositions about the characteristics of IOS that affect information transparency in supply chains. Specifically, we propose that data and process standards are necessary, but not sufficient, to solve such information transparency problems. Instead, standards need to be complemented by hub-type information technology architectures that are shared by organizations participating in an industrial field, not just by the participants in one manufacturer's supply chain. These arguments are supported by an automotive industry case study involving data and process standardization and a shared, cloud-based architecture. We conclude with additional aspects of the case that may be relevant to addressing information transparency problems in global supply chains.

Key words and phrases: automotive industry, case study, data standards, electronic data interchange (EDI), industry study, information transparency, interorganizational systems, software as a service, supply chains