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.
Hypothesised relationships are tested with survey data from 302 Spanish manufacturing firms using structural equations modelling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This study received support and financing from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (ECO2010-15885 and ECO2013-47027-P), from the Andalusian Regional Government (P11-SEJ-7294), and the European Union (FEDER).
Rojo, A., Stevenson, M., Lloréns Montes, F.J. and Perez-Arostegui, M.N. (2018), "Supply chain flexibility in dynamic environments: The enabling role of operational absorptive capacity and organisational learning", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 636-666. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-08-2016-0450Download as .RIS
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