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Institutional explanations: Missing link in operations management? Insights on supplier integration

Virpi Turkulainen (Department of Management, UCD College of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Katri Kauppi (Department of Information and Service Economy, School of Business, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland)
Emma Nermes (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, School of Science, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 7 August 2017




While classical operations strategy research argues that manufacturing organizations should be managed in line with the operational strategic priorities, recent studies have brought up potential institutional explanations for adoption of various managerial practices, including supply chain management practices. The key point in the institutional argument is that organizations are especially affected by other organizations; imitation and isomorphism are a critical part of organizational behavior. The purpose of this paper is to empirically test the institutional argument in explaining the use of supplier integration mechanisms – one of the focal management practices in today’s organizations.


The authors assess empirically the extent to which various economic institutional factors explain the use of supplier integration mechanisms in manufacturing plants with a multi-country and multi-industry survey sample.


The results indicate that institutional explanations play a significant role in explaining supplier integration. The findings suggest that further emphasis on building research around the institutional argument in various areas of supply chain and operations management is important.


As research on supply chain integration – including supplier integration – has focused on its performance implications, more research on the antecedents to integration is needed. This study provides a test of institutional theory as an antecedent to supplier integration.



The authors would like to thank Professor Kari Tanskanen for help and comments in various stages in this research project. Virpi Turkulainen acknowledges funding from Academy of Finland and Technology Industries of Finland.


Turkulainen, V., Kauppi, K. and Nermes, E. (2017), "Institutional explanations: Missing link in operations management? Insights on supplier integration", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 37 No. 8, pp. 1117-1140.



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