Supply chain theory and cultural diversity



Publication Details

Childerhouse, P., Deakins, E., Potter, A., Banomyong, R., McCullen, P., Thomas, A., Boehme, T., Hosoda, T., Yaseen, E. A. & Towill, D. R. (2012). Supply chain theory and cultural diversity. In A. Sohal, P. Singh & D. Prajogo (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th ANZAM Operations, Supply Chain and Services Management Symposium (pp. 1-19). Melbourne, Australia: ANZAM.


Purpose: By far the largest proportion of supply chain theory concerns North American and European business settings. This study investigates its generalisability to other culturally diverse global supply chains.

Methodology: This exploratory research utilises the anthropological approach of observing supply chain manager behaviour in five distinct natural settings (Egypt, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom). Hofstede's [1] well-known measures of work-related culture are used to help explain the observed behaviours.

Research Implications: Optimal supply chain architecture requires consideration of local national, organisational and individual cultural norms; necessitating that supply chain theory be tailored to account for culturally diverse settings. Similarly, change management and change roadmap also need to be matched to the local culture environment.

Research Limitations: A limited number of national settings, and cases within each setting, is investigated. An opportunist approach to sampling was taken, thereby limiting the generic nature of the findings. Hence, significant scope exists for further exploratory research into the implications of cultural diversity on global supply chain management.

Original contribution: The paper is highly relevant to the current challenges facing organisations trying to manage their global supply chains and dealing with suppliers from many different cultures. The exploratory research presented is a first step towards trying to develop supply chain theory that is more sensitive to the diversity of cultures outside of the USA/European contexts. The behaviour of supply chain managers appears to closely correlate with the national culture value set. Such cultural drivers offer pointers to the successful design and implementation of high performing international supply chains.

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.