Supply Networks for Extreme Uncertainty: a Resource Orchestration Perspective

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International Journal of Operations & Production Management

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Purpose Disasters are growing in frequency and scale, unmasking the systemic vulnerabilities of modern supply chains and highlighting the need to understand how to respond to such events. In the context of an extreme event such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this research focuses on how networks of organizations leverage their combined resources and capabilities to develop, manufacture and deliver new products outside their traditional markets. Design/methodology/approach Following a theory elaboration process, the authors build on resource orchestration theory to develop data collection and analysis protocols to support a multi-case study research design. This research investigates four cases of newly formed networks that emerged in four different countries – Colombia, Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom–in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings These four networks in the investigation share common characteristics in terms of motivation and approach, creating patterns from which theoretical generalizations are developed into a series of propositions regarding the process of network-level resource orchestration under extreme uncertainty. Practical implications The research shows how networks and the organizations within them can streamline processes, swiftly build new relationships and develop a balanced risk management approach to extreme uncertainty. Originality/value This research contributes to theory by extending the resource orchestration model to a network level and showing how extreme uncertainty can lead to the emergence of networks and alter the motivations and goals of the member organizations, allowing them to be more responsive.


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