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Interorganizational adaptation in supply chains: a behavioral perspective

Desirée Knoppen (Information Systems Department, ESADE Business School, Universidad de Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain)
Ellen Christiaanse (University of Amsterdam Business School, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 21 August 2007




This paper aims to develop the concept of interorganizational adaptation (IOAD) in customer‐supplier dyads, and more specifically its behavioral dimension and its main impacting factor constituted by power.


Building on social capital literature, the paper develops a comprehensive classification of behavioral IOAD. The proposed cognitive, relational and structural sub‐dimensions are explored through an embedded multi‐case study in the European food industry. Data are collected at both sides of the dyads, providing a rich account of supply chain partnering.


The cases show that acknowledgement and understanding of the behavioral dimension of IOAD, besides the more elaborate technical dimension, aids in explaining several paradoxical situations. Furthermore, the case data confirm the projected relationship between power and technical IOAD; dominated relationships present unilateral technical IOAD, whereas reciprocal relationships present bilateral technical IOAD. Analysis of a deviant case, however, suggests that the impact of power is weakened by the presence of behavioral IOAD.

Research limitations/implications

A longitudinal rather than the cross‐sectional research design used might shed additional light on the phenomenon. Nonetheless, the relationship age of the six cases varies from three to 50 years providing data related to different stages of partnering.

Practical implications

The paper fosters practitioners' attention for behavioral aspects of supply chain partnering in order to understand actual successes and failures.


The paper shows that social capital theory contributes to one's understanding of IOAD.



Knoppen, D. and Christiaanse, E. (2007), "Interorganizational adaptation in supply chains: a behavioral perspective", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 217-237.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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