Exploratory, site-centred research used a systems theory lens to investigate real-world pathways to supply chainintegration. The longitudinal studies involved four New Zealand-based case companies and utilised a rigorous, multimethodsupply chain integration benchmarking procedure. Findings indicate that, regardless of best practicerecommendations, supply chain managers adopt the integration pathway favoured by senior management in order tosecure the level of authority they need for often cross-functional projects. Similarly when seeking to improve externalrelationships, integration pathways that would have the company negotiating from a position of strength are favoured,even though more effective negotiation strategies may be possible. In short, supply chain managers appear to be riskaverse and favour pursuing integration pathways which they perceive will be less problematic for them.