An exploration of supply chain visibility in the life science industry

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Murphy, Rory
Issue Date
MA of Business Administration
Dublin Business School
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In an increasingly globalized world and competitive marketplace, the supply chains which transform raw materials into finished product are becoming more complex. This is especially true when it comes to the Life Science industry which has particular characteristics and challenges due to the value and sensitivity of the material being handled. The literature reveals that although supply chain visibility is viewed as a high priority for practitioners, it is often not clearly defined. This paper seeks to explore how practitioners in the life science industry view supply chain visibility, the challenges presented by their supply chains and the role that technology plays in addressing those challenges. The research strategy was to use mixed methods to collect data from practitioners in life science organisations and logistics service providers. A primarily inductive approach was used to analyse the collected data in order to identify common themes and sentiments. The findings of research broadly support the existing literature. Supply chain visibility is viewed as highly important in the life sciences industry. It appears that there may be a disconnect between the existence of large amounts of supply chain visibility data and the practical application of that data. The challenge of integrating data from various visibility systems persists and remains a barrier to achieving the levels of visibility that practitioners desire. Further research is recommended to explore the possible development of some standardization framework which may offer the industry an opportunity to capitalise on new technologies to deliver more coherent visibility systems.