It joins all – Synchronicity: How technology is reshaping our understanding of collaboration

Peter Stone, Peta Thomas, Geoff Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Management literature pays insufficient attention to the strategic potential of collaboration. While normally encountered in supply chain management literature as discourse on supply chain effectiveness, this study shows that in a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) world, the role of collaboration needs to be re-examined. Objectives: To understand how technology has enabled collaboration between companies to the extent that a collaboration should be viewed as an external business environmental factor. Method: A qualitative, grounded theory approach was followed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 senior managers of a global technology-driven company manufacturing electrical heat tracing systems. Data were analysed using a three-stage coding process to develop an essential narrative. Results: Technology has presented new possibilities for collaboration across supply chains and industries. This results in co-creation of product offerings between companies opening new markets. Collaboration is no longer only an internal tool that can facilitate efficiency and effectiveness between collaborating partners but spills over as an influence on strategy from the external environment. Conclusion: If a collaborative climate is not nurtured and supported by all parties involved, a business will not be able to reach its full potential especially in a 4IR world. Advances in technology have enabled new possibilities for companies to collaborate, both internally and with each other. Contribution: Literature rarely extends the value of collaboration beyond the realm of the supply chain. This paper suggests that by viewing it as a macro-environmental factor, collaboration can be viewed as a strategic opportunity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera924
JournalJournal of Transport and Supply Chain Management
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • co-creation
  • collaboration
  • macro-environment
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Information Systems and Management


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