Knowledge acquisition in supply chain partnerships: The role of power

Qile He, Abby Ghobadian, David Gallear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge is recognised as an important source of competitive advantage and hence there has been increasing academic and practitioner interest in understanding and isolating the factors that contribute to effective knowledge transfer between supply chain actors. The literature identifies power as a salient contributor to the effective operation of a supply chain partnership. However, there is a paucity of empirical research examining how power among actors influences knowledge acquisition and in turn the performance of supply chain partners. The aim of this research is to address this gap by examining the relationship between power, knowledge acquisition and supply chain performance among the supply chain partners of a focal Chinese steel manufacturer. A structured survey was used to collect the necessary data. Two conceptually independent variables – ‘availability of alternatives’ and ‘restraint in the use of power’ – were used to assess actual and realised power, respectively. Controlling for contingencies, we found that the flow of knowledge increased when supply chain actors had limited alternatives and when the more powerful actor exercised restraint in the use of power. Moreover, we found a positive relationship between knowledge acquisition and supply chain performance. This paper enriches the literature by empirically extending our understanding of how power affects knowledge acquisition and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Issue number2
Early online date9 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Supply chain partnership
  • Knowledge acquisition
  • Power
  • Supply chain performance


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