RFID Adoption in Supply Chain Studies

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Research Problems

The problems identified in Chapter 2 can be divided into three groups. First, companies were unable to find a business case for RFID adoption mainly due to a lack of apparent benefits in comparison with the costs of adoption. With the costs of implementation relatively unknown, it was perceived as an expensive investment due to the high cost of RFID tags. As such, management support for the business case was short-coming.
Second, teething issues were reported with the implementation of RFID in some trials. The lack of agreed industry standards, knowledge and expertise in RFID/SC seem to be the common themes for the reported implementation woes. There was a general lack of sophisticated supply chain technologies probably due to the lack of expertise in supply chain information systems and inadequate IT infrastructure to support advanced technologies in supply chains.
Third, most companies were aware of RFID technology but there were few signs of adoption andzactual usage of RFID in an integrated fashion through the supply chain. Companies might be concerned with what their customers were demanding to make their own decisions on a RFID/SC technology. As a supply chain involves several members, companies might have preferential suppliers or customers and might be waiting for them on RFID/SC technology adoption decision. There was also uncertainty in what standards would be adopted in their supply chains. Members were fragmented and some isolated due to smaller size. The lack of incentive and the inability to see real benefits of RFID/SC might have also contributed to the few signs of adoption and actual usage.


In New Zealand, some companies did not proceed further with their trials citing issues such as integration and industry standards as their concerns. There has been publicity about companies trying out RFID to improve product on-shelf availability and carrying out closed-door experiments. However, there were no examples of successful implementation of RFID/SC reported in New Zealand when this study started. Thus, RFID/SC has enjoyed a short spell of interest amongst New Zealand businesses but the uptake of RFID/SC has been slow in New Zealand. This study of the New Zealand context can be adapted to other parts of the world with similar adoption rates of about 10-15 per cent (Butner, 2006; Vijayaraman & Osyk, 2006).
To find out what is hindering New Zealand companies from adopting RFID/SC, or whether there is any business case at all for adopting the technology, this research begins by looking at the benefits and barriers to initial adoption in New Zealand supply chains. The initial decision whether to adopt a technology or not is made at the management level in an organisation. The benefits and barriers are further explored to find out the requirements for the adoption of RFID in supply chains.

Research Objective and Research Questions

The primary research objective is to explain the adoption of RFID/SC and identify initial barriers to the adoption. In order to achieve this, the first step is to find out the views or perceptions companies have of RFID technology in supply chains. It is also necessary to understand the attitudes of supply chain managers and partners towards RFID because that is where the benefits of RFID would have the most impact. It is noted that there are initial barriers to the adoption of most technology implementation as revealed in the literature review. It is, therefore, critical to look at the specific business benefits of, as well as barriers to, the adoption of RFID. Therefore, the objectives of the research are to find out the benefits and barriers, and ascertain how organisations make the decision to adopt or not adopt RFID technology in supply chains.

Research Questions

Three research questions have been identified

  • What specific benefits can be achieved by organisations in using RFID?
  • What are the barriers to realising these benefits?
  • How and why do organisations adopt or not adopt RFID in supply chains
    The first question is to explore the potential benefits of RFID/SC that New Zealand companies can leverage to stay competitive locally and internationally. This is done by investigating the development of RFID in the global context to learn what others are doing and the benefits they are seeing. The second question is to uncover the barriers to realising these benefits. The literature review is the first source of information for these questions. A survey is then conducted to understand the status of RFID development in New Zealand. The third question is to explain the attitudes towards technology adoption to understand the initial resistance to deploy RFID. In order to explain the third question, an in-depth analysis of how organisations in New Zealand adopt RFID/SC technology using case studies is conducted. Therefore, case study research, coupled with an extensive literature review and a survey on adoption theories, are to be used to investigate and explain the adoption process in organisations.
    The remainder of this chapter discusses the philosophical stance of this research and the selection of the research methods. The research design is also described including the designs of the survey and case studies.

1.1 Overview
1.2 Research Motivation
1.3 Research Objective
1.4 How this Thesis is organised
1.5 Chapters 1 and 2 – Introduction and Literature Review
1.6 Chapter 3 – Research Methodology
1.7 Chapter 4 – Exploratory Survey
1.8 Chapters 5 to 6 – Case Study Analysis and Discussion
1.9 Chapter 7 – Conclusions
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Radio Frequency Identification
2.3 Supply Chain Management
2.4 RFID in Supply Chains
2.5 Technology Adoption Models
2.6 RFID Adoption in Supply Chain Studies
2.7 Problems, Issues, and Requirements
2.8 Summary
3.1 Research Problems
3.2 Research Objective and Research Questions
3.3 Research Methodologies
3.4 Research Design
3.5 Survey
3.6 Case Study
3.7 Summary
4.1 Purpose and Conduct of Survey
4.2 Overview of Survey
4.3 Survey Results
4.4 Comparison with Other Surveys
4.5 Summary
5.1 Purpose and Conduct of Case Study
5.2 Introduction to Case Studies
5.3 Group Case Analysis
5.4 Cross Group Case Analysis
5.5 Summary
6.1 Research Findings
6.2 Important Factors Affecting RFID/SC Adoption
6.3 Less Important Factors Affecting RFID/SC Adoption – Weak Support
6.4 Other Findings
6.5 Theoretical Framework of RFID/SC Technology Adoption
6.6 Summary
7.1 Research Review
7.2 Research Contribution
7.3 Research Limitations and Future Research
7.4 Publications from this Thesis

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