Management of Critical Lower-Tier Suppliers in Global Networks: Practical Relevance, Literature Review and Management Perspectives

Bernd Markus Zunk, Manuel Woschank, Manuela Reinisch, Sigrid Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global supply networks have grown as a result of decades of intensive, strategic outsourcing to firms located in eastern countries. The initially linear supply chains have transformed over time into complex, extensive supply network structures with numerous lower-tier suppliers located all over the world. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused bottlenecks in these global supply chains, presenting company supply managers who are responsible for sourcing with enormous challenges. Firms face high risks due to the low levels of transparency and asymmetric divisions of power in their global supply chains, risks that are only heightened by the recent COVID-19 crisis. In this article, we address this issue by describing the characteristics of critical lower-tier suppliers (CLTS) in practice and scientific literature. The results of this review may serve as an initial framework, guiding researchers in the future as they develop a research model that can be used to explain the success factors of CLTS management in global network structures. Finally, based on these literature review results, this article provides an overview of perspectives and trends in the management of CLTS in the post-COVID-19 business world

Original languageEnglish
Article number9166702
Pages (from-to)181-194
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Engineering Management Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Supplier Management
  • Critical Suppliers
  • Supplier Networks
  • COVID-19
  • Economics
  • Industries
  • Bibliographies
  • Supply chains
  • Companies
  • Automobiles
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Buyer-supplier relationship management
  • supply network
  • critical lower-tier supplier (CLTS)
  • systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management

Fields of Expertise

  • Sonstiges

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Review

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