National cultural diversity and global supply chain management
Purpose: In an era of global supply chains, the vast majority of supply chain theory is bound up within the North American and European business contexts. To investigate its generic applicability within a global context, this study investigates how national culture affects the uptake of supply chain management theory in practise.
Methodology: Hoefstede’s (1980) well-known measures of international work-related values are used to compare the behaviours of a cross-national sample of supply chain managers. The exploratory research involves an anthropological approach of observing supply chain management behaviour within its natural setting.
Research Implications: Supply chain management concepts need to be adapted to cater for managers’ cultural diversity. Identifying the most desirable supply chain improvement destination requires understanding of national, organisational and individual cultural norms. In particular, the pathway to change and the desirable leadership role must be matched to the demands of the local cultural environment.
Research Limitations: A limited number of national settings, and cases from each national setting, are investigated. Hence there is significant scope for further exploratory, intracountry and inter-country research into national cultural diversity and global supply chain management.
Original contribution: The general uptake of supply chain management in practise is slow and rather disappointing, particularly given some twenty-plus years of academic research. Although supply chain management concepts seem to be geographically generic in application, the setting directly affects the approaches undertaken in practise. The cultural values in Asian versus Anglo-Saxon working environments significantly affect supply chain management practise.
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