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Supply chain flexibility in dynamic environments: The enabling role of operational absorptive capacity and organisational learning

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number3
Volume38
Number of pages31
Pages (from-to)636-666
Publication statusPublished
Early online date25/01/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to analyse the relationship between environmental dynamism and supply chain flexibility (SCF) and to evaluate if two dynamic capabilities, i.e. operational absorptive capacity (OAC) and organisational learning (OL), are necessary competences for firms to develop such a responsive supply chain strategy as flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach
Hypothesised relationships are tested with survey data from 302 Spanish manufacturing firms using structural equations modelling.

Findings
Environmental dynamism is positively associated with both OAC and OL, and both dynamic capabilities enable SCF. The authors also find that the relationship between environmental dynamism and SCF is partially mediated by both dynamic capabilities.

Research limitations/implications
The study contributes to the literature, for example, by determining when it is advantageous to develop SCF, by specifying what capabilities a firm needs to develop to align SCF with the environment, and by opening the black box that is the relationship between the environment and SCF.

Practical implications
Managers should develop SCF via OAC and OL when they detect a high degree of environmental dynamism. Knowing when this is necessary relies on a good understanding of the environment. OAC is found to be a stronger enabler of SCF than OL. The findings provide managers with an insight into why some firms are able to develop more effective responses to dynamic environments than others.

Originality/value
This study is one of only a limited number of studies that adopt a dynamic capabilities approach to supply chain management. Prior literature has shown that dynamic capabilities can aid in developing strategic, structural, and operational flexibility. The authors extend this literature by showing that OAC and OL have an effect on SCF.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.