Future of supply chain planning: closing the gaps between practice and promise

Patrik Jonsson*, Jan Holmström

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a research agenda for supply chain planning (SCP) relevant for practice. Design/methodology/approach – The authors critically evaluate academic literature on SCP in order to understand how problems are addressed in their particular context, what the outcomes are, and the mechanisms producing the observed outcomes. Four categories of SCP are studied: sales and operations planning (S&OP), supply chain master planning, supply chain materials management, and collaborative materials management. The authors introduce the concept of enabling mechanisms to identify specific innovations in materials management and production management that can facilitate the future improvement of SCP. Findings – The critical evaluation of current SCP theory presents very limited results that are of practical relevance. SCP is not presented as an intervention and the results are not in a form that is actionable for practitioners. The body of literature is almost absent in addressing problems according to context, it presents limited evidence of intended outcomes, and it fails to identify unintended outcomes. As a consequence, research is unable to bolster theoretical understandings of how outcomes – both intended and unintended – are achieved. In the forward-looking research agenda the authors leverage the understanding of the enabling mechanisms in order to propose research to make mature S&OP and novel types of SCP implementable. Research limitations/implications – The paper is an example of a structured approach to developing a research agenda that is relevant to practice and can be used more widely in logistics and supply chain management. Practical implications – This paper presents a research agenda to close the gap between practice and promise in SCP. Originality/value – The authors operationalize what constitutes practical relevance for an established field of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-81
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Collaborative materials management
  • Design science
  • Sales and operations planning
  • Supply chain master planning
  • Supply chain materials management
  • Supply chain planning


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