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Coping with unpredictable supply: the role of flexibility and adaptation

Bent Dreyer (Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Tromsø, Norway)
Kjell Grønhaug (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Bergen, Norway)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 14 September 2012




This paper aims to address how firms cope when input due to primary uncertainty is unpredictable, and thus timely and adequate supply to customers are impossible to guarantee.


Two sets of data are applied to capture uncertainties, flexibilities and adaption strategies amongst suppliers and producers respectively.


The findings show that flexibility is a prerequisite to cope when faced with unpredictable supply. Flexibility comes in many forms. They are partly firm‐specific and can be conceived as a valuable resource.

Research limitations/implications

The present study is limited to one industry only.

Practical implications

Unpredictability imposes the need for adaptations, which requires flexibility. However, adjustment to the new landscape is a prerequisite to succeed.


This paper offers insight on how firms cope when needed input to operate is unpredictable, i.e. an almost neglected topic in the marketing literature, where adequate supply in most cases is seen as unproblematic.



Dreyer, B. and Grønhaug, K. (2012), "Coping with unpredictable supply: the role of flexibility and adaptation", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 46 No. 10, pp. 1268-1282.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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