Anticipation of new technologies: supply chain antecedents and competitive performance

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to propose and empirically validates a measure of the anticipation of new technologies (ANT) construct, first suggested by Hayes and Wheelwright (1984). ANT allows establishment of a sustained competitive advantage through acquiring new technologies and the capability to use them, in advance of actual need. The theoretical foundation for ANT is developed using the literature on absorptive capacity. Several elements of supply chain management are proposed as antecedents to ANT. Design/methodology/approach - Perceptual survey data from 317 manufacturing plants in ten countries was used to test the hypotheses using structural equation modeling and confirmatory factor analysis. Findings - The key supply chain antecedents of ANT are supply chain planning, internal integration and supplier integration. ANT was related to both operational and cost performance. Research limitations/implications - Potential limitations include the use of an existing database, the plant as the unit of analysis and the need to include customer integration, as well as supplier integration. The results demonstrate the competitive importance of the ANT construct and the key role that relationships with suppliers play in its development. Practical implications - This research sheds new light on a construct whose roots are inherently practical. Suppliers and their extended networks are an important source of external knowledge about technology and future customer needs, thus, supply chain relationships are an important contributor to ANT. Originality/value - Although the role of technology in establishing a competitive advantage has been thoroughly studied, the effectiveness of developing technologies that are expected to be important in the future has not, although this concept was first introduced almost 30 years ago. The authors use absorptive capacity to develop the role of supply chain relationships in building an organization's ANT capability, contributing to the operations strategy literature by grounding a practical construct in the theoretical literature and demonstrating its importance.

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