Learning to Collaborate: Exploring the Process of Adaptation in Supply Chain Partnerships



Companies are spending an increasing amount of time and money on boundary-spanning activities in order to deepen strategic relationships with supply chain partners. These efforts are reflected in some degree of interorganizational adaptation (IOAD). For many firms the challenge lies in determining that degree. A first step is the acknowledgement and understanding of the processes leading to specific adaptations. This paper advances a conceptualization of IOAD that acknowledges this process aspect, which is underdeveloped in extant literature. The proposed conceptualization presents learning to collaborate as a key aspect of the process of IOAD. Two dyadic case studies of food producers and their respective strategic packaging suppliers show that learning to collaborate may take two forms: learning from a partner and learning with a partner. Moreover, the experiential nature of learning to collaborate provides an alternative explanation to those presented in literature for the reinforcing character of IOAD.
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Prof.dr. J.Y.F. Wynstra