Supply Chain Partnering: A Comprehensive Framework of Interorganizational Adaptation


Supply chain practice reveals that a relatively high share of partnering intents still do not meet the proposed objectives, despite the many theoretical promises. The related bodies of literature, such as operations and information systems, increasingly acknowledge that this lack of success might be better understood through exploring the behavioral rather than technical or economic dimensions of partnering. Nonetheless, this call for research has scarcely been filled to date. Therefore, the aim of this doctoral project has been to develop a comprehensive framework of interorganizational adaptation (IOAD) in supply chain partnerships. A first part of the dissertation “zooms out” and relates IOAD with economic and technical concerns of partnering. The developed multidisciplinary lens of partnerships draws a more complete picture of partnering than separate bodies of literature in isolation. A second part of the dissertation “zooms in” and develops in-depth IOAD and its relationship with power and interorganizational learning (IOL). The empirical qualitative study – at both ends of six buyer supplier dyads in the European food and packaging industry respectively – reveals that the behavioral view aids in understanding several otherwise paradoxical situations. It also illustrates how “learning to collaborate” processes lead towards concreting adaptations and that power is a dynamic concept: the mix of different types of “learning to collaborate (“learning with” versus “learning from”) depends on the degree of power imbalance, but the same “learning to collaborate” processes may reduce this power imbalance. The dissertation is a collection of four papers and contributes by providing a testable framework of IOAD, a relevant but ambiguously treated concept to date.