Exploratory, site-centred research used a systems theory lens to investigate real-world pathways to supply chain
integration. The longitudinal studies involved four New Zealand-based case companies and utilised a rigorous, multimethod
supply chain integration benchmarking procedure. Findings indicate that, regardless of best practice
recommendations, supply chain managers adopt the integration pathway favoured by senior management in order to
secure the level of authority they need for often cross-functional projects. Similarly when seeking to improve external
relationships, 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 risk
averse and favour pursuing integration pathways which they perceive will be less problematic for them.