Reflecting on time, timing and timeliness in public sector supply networks

Louise Knight, Helen L. Walker, Nigel D. Caldwell, Christine M. Harland

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Despite recent research on time (e.g. Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001), consideration of the time dimension in data collection, analysis and interpretation in research in supply networks is, to date, still limited. Drawing on a body of literature from organization studies, and empirical findings from a six-year action research programme and a related study of network learning, we reflect on time, timing and timeliness in interorganizational networks. The empirical setting is supply networks in the English health sector wherein we identify and elaborate various issues of time, within the case and in terms of research process. Our analysis is wide-ranging and multi-level, from the global (e.g. identifying the notion of life cycles) to the particular (e.g. different cycle times in supply, such as daily for deliveries and yearly for contracts). We discuss the ‘speeding up’ of inter-organizational ‘e’ time and tensions with other time demands. In closing the paper, we relate our conclusions to the future conduct of the research programme and supply research more generally, and to the practice of managing supply (in) networks.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes
Event18th Annual IMP Conference 2002 - Dijon, France
Duration: 5 Sep 20027 Sep 2002
Conference number: 18


Conference18th Annual IMP Conference 2002


  • time
  • networks
  • supply strategy
  • public sector
  • network learning
  • health


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