Supplier strategies and routines for capability development: implications for upgrading

Sinkovics, N. , Hoque, S. F. and Sinkovics, R. R. (2018) Supplier strategies and routines for capability development: implications for upgrading. Journal of International Management, 24(4), pp. 348-368. (doi: 10.1016/j.intman.2018.04.005)

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This paper examines the strategies and routines adopted by small and medium-sized suppliers to develop capabilities that enable them to engage in upgrading, despite a precarious relational and institutional context. To this end, we investigate the strategic behaviour of two Bangladeshi garment manufacturers. Both started out as small suppliers for multinational enterprises (MNEs) and have eventually grown into micro-multinationals. The firms are involved in ‘tacit promissory contracting’ with their buyers, a specific form of international outsourcing relationship. The study adopts a multiple case study design that involves interviews with managers/owners of the firms. The analysis yields two key findings. Both firms have devised strategies and taken coherent routines involving actions to develop skills and motivation needed to perform appropriate functional activities (i.e. pre-production, production and post-production) as they embarked on different stages of upgrading. Furthermore, firms have designed routines to internalise the challenges originating from their relationships with their buyers and the institutional environment at the time that had the potential to affect their upgrading goals. The paper contributes to IB studies by highlighting how suppliers, even in a precarious context, can control their own strategies and routines, so as to develop capabilities that allow them to gradually redress the power imbalance between themselves and their buyers.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Financial support was received from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), [ES/J013234/1], the University of Manchester 2014 ESRC Impact Acceleration Account [ES/M500392/1] and the Alliance Manchester Business School Lord Alliance strategic research investment fund [LA-SRIF AA14179].
Keywords:Capabilities, Upgrading, Routines, Global value chain (GVCs), Bangladesh, Traditional emerging markets, Absorptive capacity
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sinkovics, Professor Rudolf and Sinkovics, Dr Noemi
Authors: Sinkovics, N., Hoque, S. F., and Sinkovics, R. R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Journal of International Management
ISSN (Online):1873-0620
Published Online:11 May 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of International Management 24(4): 348-368
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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