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Effective supply chain relationships lead to successful supply chain operations. Product design, manufacturing, transport, warehousing, inventory management, distribution and retailing – in a modern supply chain these operations cut across departmental, organizational and national boundaries.

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English has become the number one international language of business. This would appear to hand a significant advantage to those who already have English as their mother tongue. Many multinational corporations (MNCs), including some that do not have their origins in an English-speaking country, such as Nokia of Finland and SAP of Germany have even adopted English as their standard corporate language. Indeed, approximately 36% of global business in now done through English and despite the rise of China as an international trading nation, English is set to extend its dominance. According to a recent study English is moving from being a “marker of the elite” to becoming “a basic skill needed for the entire workforce”.

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Q: Why bother with developing supply chain connections?

A: Because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

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While sustaining long term strategic relationships is critical for success, an ever more common response to the rapidly changing business environment is the formation of short term alliances designed to address specific tactical goals, projects or initiatives. In many instances these arrangements bring together people from different disciplines who may come from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Add in long distances and different time zones and the complexities and challenges of sustaining successful working relationships increase even more.

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Not all relationships are created equal and in business, asymmetrical power balances between supplier and customer and between different partners in strategic alliances are more the norm than the exception. We see these asymmetrical relationships all the time between manufacturers and their logistics services companies, between suppliers and their customers, and between producers and their distribution channel partners.

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In his book Wired for Culture, The Natural History of Human Cooperation, Nigel Pagel describes the culture as the innovation that we call “culture” that has enabled Homo sapiens as a species to spread across the globe and adapt successfully in many different environments, climates and terrains.

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Changes in information and communications technology, international trade liberalization and advances in transportation have enabled the rapid spread of the supply and distribution networks of businesses out of local and national constraints and onto a global stage. This has dramatic implications for all businesses and not just for the large multinational corporations with their global operations dispersed across the world.

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Forging International Supply Chain Relationships among Small and Medium Sized Businesses for Competitive Advantage in a Globalized Economy

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Retail’ as a word has its origins in late Middle English word retaille, re=”expression of force” tailler = ‘to cut’. So, simply put, retailers cut big pieces to small pieces for consumption rather than resale. Just like the butcher needs careful consideration to the art of providing small pieces of a large piece of meat to satisfy each of the numerous customers, retail is not an art unless inventory control is put into practice.

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The recent announcement of Tesla’s new power storage systems got me thinking about the relationship between light, productivity, sustainability and the economy.The story of artificial light is a story of economic development. Before oil lamps and candles, people used to go to bed at sundown and slept in ‘two phases’ – first and second sleep. However, with the advent of artificial light, productivity patterns changed along with sleep patterns, as people’s activities became independent of the availability of natural light.

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