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Many organizations have very limited information about the supply networks in which they are involved. For the purpose of planning business strategies, tracing products, and assuring product quality, organizations are eager to know their entire supply networks, i.e., who are their supplierspsila suppliers and who are their buyerspsila buyers. However, because an organization's higher-tier suppliers and buyers are not directly connected to the organization, it is difficult for the organization to obtain the information about all entities and their relationships in its supply networks. This paper aims at providing an innovative solution for organizations to discover their supply networks. We first propose a new taxonomy of supply networks, which provides a necessary and systematic framework for mapping supply networks based on the mapping purpose and available information. We then develop a methodology for discovering and mapping supply networks by means of radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled capture and sharing of the information about the movement of products throughout supply networks. This research solves a real-world supply chain management problem of what supply networks can be discovered using RFID and Internet technologies and how to discover them.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2009