Sustainable Strategic Supply Chain Leadership and Management


By Prof Pieter G Steyn, Principal

Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management

South Africa


How to achieve sustainable supply chain performance has remained a complex challenge.  Full commitment to process orientation and process management is required. Cultures of bureaucratic organisations do not allow for strategic supply chain management, and the challenge is for them to transform to learning organisation paradigms and structures. The author advocates the effective utilisation of two cross-functional supply chain structures, being customer-focused (on the demand side) and capacity-focused (on the supply side), and a programme management system that includes a Balanced Scorecard for performance appraisal. In line with the conclusion of the Ohio State studies that leadership style effectiveness depends on situational factors, it is proposed that leaders should purposefully influence these factors by creating a supply chain configuration and culture conducive to learning and knowledge management. This will facilitate the successful application of a leadership style with high consideration and high initiating structure, which is essential. Moreover, it is critically important for organisations substantially to improve leadership acumen if they wish to achieve sustainable strategic supply chain success. Executives and supply chain managers have the added responsibility of acting as change agents for transforming the bureaucratic organisation to a learning entity.

The need for sustainable strategic supply chain management

Naslung and Williamson (2010) conclude that most people agree to the importance and potential benefits of supply chain management, but that it does not occur often enough in practice. Organisations struggle to evolve from theory to the successful implementation of supply chain management. Mostly absent in practice are seamless chains, optimised flows, and networks of integrated organisations. These authors contend that, since the objective is to improve dynamic relationships, methodical approaches to the implementation of supply chain management are needed, supported by sound empirically-based research to continue to develop the field.

Designing, developing and managing cross-organisational processes are serious challenges when one takes into consideration that most organisations are still struggling with internal process management. They go so far as to say that few, if any, examples exist of truly process-oriented organisations, yet process management is mentioned by prominent researchers and practitioners as a prerequisite for successful supply chain management. These authors continue to express concern that the supply chain does not have clear roles or rules, measurement, and reward systems. They ask the question: “How can such a structure possibly be managed?”


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About the Author

Prof. Dr. Pieter Steyn

Founder, Head Director, Principal, Professor

Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management

Johannesburg & Western Cape, South Africa

Dr. Pieter Steyn is Founder and Principal of Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management, a South African Council on Higher Education / Dept of Education accredited and registered Private Higher Education Institution offering an Advanced Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s Degree in project and programme-based leadership and management. Professor Steyn holds an engineering degree (BSc Eng), MBA and Doctorate in business management and is a registered Professional Engineer. Dr. Steyn founded consulting engineering firm Steyn & Van Rensburg (SVR) in 1970. (Projects included First National Bank Head Office (Bank City), Standard Bank Head Office, Mandela Square (all in Johannesburg), Game City and The Wheel Shopping Centres (Durban)). He was appointed professor in the Department of Management, University of South Africa (1976), was Founder Chairperson (1977) of the Production Management Institute of South Africa, and helped pioneer Project Management as a university subject at the post-graduate level in 1979 at the University of South Africa. He was professor of Project and Operations Management at the TUKS Graduate School of Management, University of Pretoria from 1990 until retiring in 1998. Pieter was Chairperson of the Commission of Enquiry into the Swaziland Civil Service in 1993; Project Leader of the Strategic Management Team for the Gauteng Government’s Welfare Department and Corporate Core, 1994 to 1996. He founded the Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management in 1998. Pieter is co-author of the “International Handbook of Production and Operations Management,” (Cassell, London, 1989, ed. Ray Wild) and author of many articles and papers on leadership and management. Pieter is a founder Fellow of the Production Management Institute of South Africa, and a member of the Association of Business Leadership, Industrial Engineering Institute, Engineering Association of South Africa and Project Management South Africa (PMSA). He is founder and past President of the Association of Project Management, South Africa (APMSA) and South Africa’s former representative on the Council of Delegates of the International Project Management Association (IPMA), 2000-2005. He is currently a member of IPMA’s Research Management Board (since 2007).   Pieter is also Director of the De Doornkraal Wine Estate in Riversdale, Western Cape.  Prof Steyn can be contacted at  [email protected].  For information about Cranefield College, visit ww.cranefield.ac.za.