• supply chain strategy;
  • fit;
  • resilience;
  • continuity;
  • longitudinal field study;
  • empirical research;
  • inventory optimization;

Researchers and practitioners frequently point to inventory as a necessary component of an effective supply chain strategy. However, an undisciplined or ineffective approach to inventory can have a detrimental impact on an organization and its entire supply chain. When making inventory decisions, firms must ensure that the selected approach “fits” the overall supply chain strategy. While such an assertion seems intuitive, there is a need for empirical validation. We seek to contribute to this important body of research by investigating the impact of improved strategic alignment of inventory on resiliency and continuity. More specifically, we investigate the impact of improved strategic fit by comparing two distinct approaches to inventory management within a service parts environment. We hypothesize that a well-aligned approach to inventory management can enhance continuity and resiliency. We test these hypotheses via a longitudinal field study involving 10 United States Air Force (USAF) locations and two years of data (approximately 650,000 inventory transactions). Results from nine test locations and one control location suggest that a well-aligned approach to inventory management is indeed effective in improving continuity and resiliency, thus enhancing service-based strategies—in this case, the USAF's ability to be mission-capable. While the results of the study are derived from the USAF, we believe the implications provide broader insight into the use of inventory as a means of realizing a strategic fit.