The adoption of soft skills in supply chain and understanding their current role in supply chain management skills agenda: A UK perspective

Ozlem Bak, Christine Jordan, James Midgely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: With supply chains expanding in scope and scale globally, the academic literature underlined the increasing role and importance of soft skills. Traditionally, the supply chain literature geared towards hard skills including functional and technical skill sets with limited discussion on soft skills. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to assess and explore the soft skills demand in supply chain management arena.
Design/methodology/approach: This study has utilised a mixed methods study in two phases, with the first stage including a questionnaire distributed to 120 supply chain employees in the UK, followed by six interviews with supply chain experts in the UK.
Findings: The results suggest that soft skills, especially behavioural skills such as communication, planning, initiative and negotiation, were seen to be more important when compared to decision making, negotiation and management skills. The findings indicate that the changing supply chain scope encourages the requisition and development of different supply chain soft skills with varied levels of emphasis in relation to 15 soft skills identified in the literature.
Research limitations/implications: This study employs a mixed-method approach to establish the perceived importance of soft skills in the UK supply chains. This limits the generalisability of the results to other contextual settings.
Practical implications: This paper presents soft skills impact upon the supply chain. Specific soft skills are critical to supply chain employees compared to others (e.g. behavioural and people management skills), which may lead to articulation of supply chain soft skills training initiatives.
Originality/value: This paper contributes to the soft skills discussion in the supply chain context and discusses the role of soft skills. Topical gaps in the literature are identified as areas for future research. The findings have generated additional supply chain skills to the academic literature as well as provided an understanding of the weighting of soft skills in terms of their importance and application to industry needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1079
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


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