Purpose: In an era of global supply chains, the vast majority of supply chain theory is
bound up within the North American and European business contexts. To investigate its
generic applicability within a global context, this study investigates how national culture
affects the uptake of supply chain management theory in practise.
Methodology: Hoefstede’s (1980) well-known measures of international work-related
values are used to compare the behaviours of a cross-national sample of supply chain
managers. The exploratory research involves an anthropological approach of observing
supply chain management behaviour within its natural setting.
Research Implications: Supply chain management concepts need to be adapted to
cater for managers’ cultural diversity. Identifying the most desirable supply chain
improvement destination requires understanding of national, organisational and
individual cultural norms. In particular, the pathway to change and the desirable
leadership role must be matched to the demands of the local cultural environment.
Research Limitations: A limited number of national settings, and cases from each
national setting, are investigated. Hence there is significant scope for further
exploratory, intra-country and inter-country research into national cultural diversity and
global supply chain management.
Original contribution: The general uptake of supply chain management in practise is
slow and rather disappointing, particularly given some twenty-plus years of academic
research. Although supply chain management concepts seem to be geographically
generic in application, the setting directly affects the approaches undertaken in practise.
The cultural values in Asian versus Anglo-Saxon working environments significantly
affect supply chain management practise.