Untangling the Organizational Ambiguities in Supply Chain Risk Recognition, Assessment, and Response: The Role of Network Embeddedness
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In this thesis, I focus on supply chain risk related ambiguity, which represents the ambiguities firms exhibit in recognizing, assessing, and responding to supply chain disruptions. I, primarily, argue that ambiguities associated with recognizing and responding to supply chain risk are information gathering and processing problems. Guided by the theoretical perspective of bounded rationality, I propose a typology of supply chain risk related ambiguity with four distinct dimensions. I, also, argue that the major contributor to risk related ambiguity is often the environment, specifically the web of suppliers. Hence, I focus on the characteristics of these supplier networks to examine the sources of ambiguity. I define three distinct elements of network embeddedness – relational, structural, and positional embeddedness – and argue that the ambiguity faced by a firm in appropriately identifying the nature or impacts of major disruptions is a function of these network properties. Based on a survey of large North American manufacturing firms, I found that the extent of the relational ties a firm has and its position in the network are significantly related to supply chain risk related ambiguity. However, this study did not provide any significant support for the hypothesized relationship between structural embeddedness and ambiguity. My research contributes towards the study of supply chain disruptions by using the idea of bounded rationality to understand supply chain risk related ambiguity and by providing evidence that the structure of supply chain networks influences the organizational understanding of and responses to supply chain disruptions.