Resource Dependence Theory and Supply Chain Management

In their seminal publication, The External Control of Organizations, Pfeffer and Salancik (1978) have postulated resource dependence theory. Basically, it argues “that organizations are constrained and affected by their environments and that they act to attempt to manage resource dependencies” by setting up different forms of interorganizational arrangements. However, the original theory has sometimes been criticized for empirical and conceptual shortcomings, e.g., for combining the dimensions of power imbalance and mutual dependence in the single construct of interdependence, making theory testing challenging. In their article, Synthesizing and Extending Resource Dependence Theory: A Meta-Analysis, recently published in the Journal of Management, Drees and Heugens (2013) “consolidate 157 tests of [resource dependence theory] and corroborate its main predictions”. They show that the theory is, indeed, “a premier perspective for understanding organizational–environmental relations”. Given that a supply chain is a hybrid of one’s own organization and its environment, this result might encourage new research in our field.

Drees, J.M., & Heugens, P.P.M.A.R. (2013). Synthesizing and Extending Resource Dependence Theory: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Management, 39 (6), 1666-1698 DOI: 10.1177/0149206312471391

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About Andreas Wieland

Dr. Andreas Wieland is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Risk Management at the Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include resilient and socially responsible supply chains.

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