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Knowledge exchange and social capital in supply chains

Indria Handoko (School of Business and Economics, Universitas Prasetiya Mulya, Jakarta, Indonesia)
Mike Bresnen (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Yanuar Nugroho (Alliance Manchester Business School, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK) (Executive Office of the President, Jakarta, Indonesia)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 2 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to contribute toward a better understanding of the impact of social capital on knowledge exchange within supply chains. An exploratory case study approach is used to identify the effects of social capital across multiple organizational levels and to consider how these effects relate to the mode of supply chain governance.


A comparative case study investigation was undertaken of two Indonesian automotive component suppliers. Qualitative research methods were used with data collection involving semi-structured interviews with 64 participants at three different levels within each company (senior managers, middle managers and shop floor staff).


Comparisons between the cases highlight the major consequences that internal differentiation within organizations had in moderating the effect of social capital upon knowledge exchange in supply chains. Social capital had both enabling and inhibiting effects and these were dependent upon how social capital was constituted within and between organizations. Interaction effects between levels and with the mode of governance adopted were also important.

Research limitations/implications

Future research would benefit from a multidimensional analysis of social capital in supply chains which considers potentially disparate and contradictory effects which may be apparent when social capital is examined at different levels of analysis and in relation to different modes of governance.


The paper uses in-depth exploratory case research to complement existing survey-based work and contributes to the further conceptualization of relationships between social capital, knowledge exchange and modes of governance in supply chains.



Special thanks goes to the Indonesian Directorate General of Higher Education and Prasetiya Mulya University for providing the financial support for this research.


Handoko, I., Bresnen, M. and Nugroho, Y. (2018), "Knowledge exchange and social capital in supply chains", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 90-108.



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