This study investigates the imitative use of management practices across a multitier supply network. Although imitation may take the form of any management practice, operationally, we focus on whether the buyer’s control practices used with first-tier suppliers results in similar control practices being used by these first-tier suppliers with the second-tier suppliers. Drawing on institutional theory, we identify relational context (i.e., affective commitment) and environmental context (i.e., environmental uncertainty) as two important factors influencing the extent to which such imitation takes place. Using unique survey data of vertically linked supply chain triads, we generally find support for the occurrence of imitation and more so in cases of high affective commitment. The results regarding environmental uncertainty further reveal selectivity in imitative behavior, calling attention to the level of deliberateness in imitation decisions in supply networks. Besides contributing to theory on imitative behaviors in the supply chain, this study also generates practical implications on the spread of management practices across multiple tiers.

buyer/supplier relationships, organizational learning and knowledge acquisition, regression analysis, supplier management, survey methods,
Journal of Supply Chain Management
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Reusen, E. (Evelien), Stouthuysen, K. (Kristof), Roodhooft, F. (Filip), Van den Abbeele, A, & Slabbinck, H. (Hendrik). (2019). Imitation of Management Practices in Supply Networks: Relational and Environmental Effects. Journal of Supply Chain Management. doi:10.1111/jscm.12216