There has been recent interest of corporations (e.g. producers, marketers and distributors) in Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) communities because of notions that - business enterprises can (profitably) provide price- and culture-sensitive products to them and economic benefits can accrue to BOP communities if business enterprises can source products from BOP producers. However, supply chains that connect into BOP communities are subject to several difficult conditions such as problems in building distribution channels into remote locations and lack of transportation and warehousing resources. Studies that examine supply chains in the context of under-developed populations do not provide theoretical understanding of particular conditions and problems in BOP supply chains. Similarly, while, the supply chain literature acknowledges the role of IT in supply chain integration and supplier development, it does not theoretically examine the potential role of IT in BOP supply chains. There is consequently, an absence of research frameworks for understanding specific characteristics of BOP supply chains. This research-in-progress paper reports on a larger study, the objective of which is to examine the following research question – How does the deployment of IT impact supply chains at the BOP. We adopt the idea of market and economic separations as our informing theoretical lens and address our question through two sub-questions – (1) What are the separations in supply chains at the BOP; and (2) How can IT reduce these separations? In this paper we report on the first part, that is, on theorization that characterizes different separations that exist in supply chains at the BOP. Our continuing research aims to develop case studies to address the second part, that is, to understand how IT can reduce them. If selected we hope to present some of our findings at the workshop. With this study we hope to develop a theoretical basis to examine distinguishing characteristics of supply chains at the BOP, thus contributing to our understanding of problems plaguing supply chains at the BOP. Second, we hope to analyze the role of IT in mitigating these problems.
Scott, Nehemiah and Tarafdar, Monideepa, "Impact of Information Technology Deployment on Supply Chains at the Bottom of Pyramid: A Separations Lens Separations" (2014). GlobDev 2014. 5.