Operations Management Research

, Volume 11, Issue 3–4, pp 69–82 | Cite as

Obtaining collaboration benefits: the role of collaboration-specific investment and absorptive capacity in China

  • Chung-Yean ChiangEmail author
  • Mark Hanna
  • Zhenyu Liu
  • Xiangyu Lu


This study examines the role of collaboration-specific investment and absorptive capacity on the attainment of interorganizational collaboration benefits. Grounded in the extended resource-based view, and using survey data from Chinese executives, we study the driver for, and test the impacts of, collaboration-specific investment and organizational learning on collaboration performance. Our findings indicate that resource similarity between the collaborative partners affects the level of collaboration-specific investment and learning, and demonstrate an approach that firms can use to obtain both abnormal common and private benefits from participation in an interorganizational collaboration. Specifically, the findings suggest that collaboration-specific investment has a direct effect on the enhancement of absorptive capacity and attainment of common and private collaboration benefits. Furthermore, due to the direct effect of absorptive capacity on attainment of collaboration benefits, commitment of collaboration-specific investment has an indirect effect on the attainment of common and private collaboration benefits. This study is the first to apply both the competence-capability framework and extended resource-based view to study interorganizational collaboration. In fact, this study aims to determine mechanisms for a collaboration-participating firm to obtain more benefit, whether common or private. Our findings provide support for the importance of learning capability as a factor in the acquisition of collaboration benefits.


Interorganizational collaboration Organizational learning Extended resource-based view Structural equation modeling Competence-capability framework Private benefit 


  1. Argote L (2012) Organizational learning: creating, retaining and transferring knowledge. Springer Science & Business Media, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Bendoly E, Rosenzweig ED, Stratman JK (2007) Performance metric portfolios: a framework and empirical analysis. Prod Oper Manag 16:257–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braziotis C, Tannock J (2011) Building the extended enterprise: key collaboration factors. Int J Logist Manag 22:349–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cai S, Yang Z (2014) The role of the Guanxi institution in skill acquisition between firms: a study of Chinese firms. J Supply Chain Manag 50:3–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cao M, Zhang Q (2011) Supply chain collaboration: impact on collaborative advantage and firm performance. J Oper Manag 29:163–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cao M, Vonderembse MA, Zhang Q, Ragu-Nathan T (2010) Supply chain collaboration: conceptualisation and instrument development. Int J Prod Res 48:6613–6635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carson RT, Cenesizoglu T, Parker R (2011) Forecasting (aggregate) demand for US commercial air travel. Int J Forecast 27:923–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chakkol M, Selviaridis K, Finne M (2018) The governance of collaboration in complex projects. Int J Oper Prod Manag 38:997–1019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen Y-S, Lin M-JJ, Chang C-H (2009) The positive effects of relationship learning and absorptive capacity on innovation performance and competitive advantage in industrial markets. Ind Mark Manag 38:152–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chin WW (1998) Issues and Ppinion on structural equation modeling. MIS Q 22:vii–xviGoogle Scholar
  11. Chin WW, Marcolin BL, Newsted PR (2003) A partial least squares latent variable modeling approach for measuring interaction effects: results from a Monte Carlo simulation study and an electronic-mail emotion/adoption study. Inf Syst Res 14:189–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen WM, Levinthal DA (1990) Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation. Adm Sci Q 35:128–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Das TK, Teng B-S (2000) A resource-based theory of strategic alliances. J Manag 26:31–61Google Scholar
  14. Dyer JH, Singh H (1998) The relational view: cooperative strategy and sources of interorganizational competitive advantage. Acad Manag Rev 23:660–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dyer JH, Singh H, Kale P (2008) Splitting the pie: rent distribution in alliances and networks. Manag Decis Econ 29:137–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fawcett SE, Fawcett AM, Watson BJ, Magnan GM (2012) Peeking inside the black box: toward an understanding of supply chain collaboration dynamics. J Supply Chain Manag 48:44–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hair JF, Black WC, Babin BJ, Anderson RE (2009) Multivariate data analysis. Pearson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Hair JF, Ringle CM, Sarstedt M (2011) PLS-SEM: indeed a silver bullet. J Mark Theory Pract 19:139–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hair JF, Hult GTM, Ringle C, Sarstedt M (2016) A primer on partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM). Sage Publications, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  20. Hamel G (1991) Competition for competence and interpartner learning within international strategic alliances. Strateg Manag J 12:83–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamel G, Doz YL, Prahalad CK (1989) Collaborate with your competitors and win. Harv Bus Rev 67:133–139Google Scholar
  22. Harso A (2017) How walmart enhances supply chain management with CPFR initiatives. Accessed August 2017
  23. Heide JB, John G (1988) The role of dependence balancing in safeguarding transaction-specific assets in conventional channels. J Mark 52:20–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heide JB, John G (1992) Do norms matter in market relationships? J Mark 56:32–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henseler J, Ringle CM, Sarstedt M (2015) A new criterion for assessing discriminant validity in variance-based structural equation modeling. J Acad Mark Sci 43:115–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Henseler J, Hubona G, Ray PA (2016) Using PLS path modeling in new technology research: updated guidelines. Ind Manag Data Syst 116:2–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hinterhuber A (2013) Can competitive advantage be predicted? Towards a predictive definition of competitive advantage in the resource-based view of the firm. Manag Decis 51:795–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hofer AR, Hofer C, Waller MA (2014) What gets suppliers to play and who gets the pay? On the antecedents and outcomes of collaboration in retailer-supplier dyads. Int J Logist Manag 25:226–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hoskisson RE, Eden L, Lau CM, Wright M (2000) Strategy in emerging economies. Acad Manag J 43:249–267Google Scholar
  30. Huggins R (2010) Forms of network resource: knowledge access and the role of inter-firm networks. Int J Manag Rev 12:335–352Google Scholar
  31. Jin Y, Vonderembse M, Ragu-Nathan T, Smith JT (2014) Exploring relationships among IT-enabled sharing capability, supply chain flexibility, and competitive performance. Int J Prod Econ 153:24–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnson JL, Sohi RS, Grewal R (2004) The role of relational knowledge stores in interfirm partnering. J Mark 68:21–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Khanna T, Gulati R, Nohria N (1998) The dynamics of learning alliances: competition, cooperation, and relative scope. Strateg Manag J 19:193–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Knoben J (2011) The geographic distance of relocation search: an extended resource-based perspective. Econ Geogr 87:371–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Krause DR, Handfield RB, Tyler BB (2007) The relationships between supplier development, commitment, social capital accumulation and performance improvement. J Oper Manag 25:528–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lai F, Zhang M, Lee DM, Zhao X (2012) The impact of supply chain integration on mass customization capability: an extended resource-based view. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 59:443–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lai F, Li X, Lai VS (2013) Transaction-specific investments, relational norms, and ERP customer satisfaction: a mediation analysis*. Decis Sci 44:679–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lane PJ, Lubatkin M (1998) Relative absorptive capacity and interorganizational learning. Strateg Manag J 19:461–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lane PJ, Salk JE, Lyles MA (2001) Absorptive capacity, learning, and performance in international joint ventures. Strateg Manag J 22:1139–1161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lavie D (2006) The competitive advantage of interconnected firms: an extension of the resource-based view. Acad Manag Rev 31:638–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lewis M, Brandon-Jones A, Slack N, Howard M (2010) Competing through operations and supply: the role of classic and extended resource-based advantage. Int J Oper Prod Manag 30:1032–1058CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Li G, Fan H, Lee PK, Cheng T (2015) Joint supply chain risk management: an agency and collaboration perspective. Int J Prod Econ 164:83–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mentzer JT, Min S, Zacharia ZG (2000) The nature of interfirm partnering in supply chain management. J Retail 76:549–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Min S, Roath AS, Daugherty PJ, Genchev SE, Chen H, Arndt AD, Glenn Richey R (2005) Supply chain collaboration: what's happening? Int J Logist Manag 16:237–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mishra A, Chandrasekaran A, MacCormack A (2015) Collaboration in Multi-Partner R&D projects: the impact of partnering scale and scope. J Oper Manag 33:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mitchell TR (1985) An evaluation of the validity of correlational research conducted in organizations. Acad Manag Rev 10:192–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Morgan TR, Richey RG Jr, Autry CW (2016) Developing a reverse logistics competency: the influence of collaboration and information technology. Int J Phys Distrib Logist Manag 46:293–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Narayanan S, Narasimhan R, Schoenherr T (2015) Assessing the contingent effects of collaboration on agility performance in buyer–supplier relationships. J Oper Manag 33:140–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nyaga GN, Lynch DF, Marshall D, Ambrose E (2013) Power asymmetry, adaptation and collaboration in dyadic relationships involving a powerful partner. J Supply Chain Manag 49:42–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Patel PC, Terjesen S, Li D (2012) Enhancing effects of manufacturing flexibility through operational absorptive capacity and operational ambidexterity. J Oper Manag 30:201–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Paulraj A, Jayaraman V, Blome C (2014) Complementarity effect of governance mechanisms on environmental collaboration: does it exist? Int J Prod Res 52:6989–7006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Peng DX, Lai F (2012) Using partial least squares in operations management research: a practical guideline and summary of past research. J Oper Manag 30:467–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Podsakoff PM, Organ DW (1986) Self-reports in organizational research: problems and prospects. J Manag 12:531–544Google Scholar
  54. Podsakoff PM, MacKenzie SB, Lee J-Y, Podsakoff NP (2003) Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. J Appl Psychol 88:879–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pulles NJ, Veldman J, Schiele H (2016) Winning the competition for supplier resources: the role of preferential resource allocation from suppliers. Int J Oper Prod Manag 36:1458–1481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ramanathan U, Gunasekaran A (2014) Supply chain collaboration: impact of success in long-term partnerships. Int J Prod Econ 147:252–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Richey GR Jr, Autry CW (2009) Assessing interfirm collaboration/technology investment tradeoffs: the effects of technological readiness and organizational learning. Int J Logist Manag 20:30–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ringle CM, Wende S, Becker JM (2015) SmartPLS. SmartPLS GmbH, BoenningstedtGoogle Scholar
  59. Rivera L, Sheffi Y, Knoppen D (2016) Logistics clusters: the impact of further agglomeration, training and firm size on collaboration and value added services. Int J Prod Econ 179:285–294Google Scholar
  60. Rosenzweig ED (2009) A contingent view of e-collaboration and performance in manufacturing. J Oper Manag 27:462–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sáenz MJ, Revilla E, Knoppen D (2014) Absorptive capacity in buyer–supplier relationships: empirical evidence of its mediating role. J Supply Chain Manag 50:18–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Setia P, Patel PC (2013) How information systems help create OM capabilities: consequents and antecedents of operational absorptive capacity. J Oper Manag 31:409–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Son I, Lee D, Lee J-N, Chang YB (2014) Market perception on cloud computing initiatives in organizations: An extended resource-based view. Inf Manag 51:653–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Squire B, Cousins PD, Lawson B, Brown S (2009) The effect of supplier manufacturing capabilities on buyer responsiveness: the role of collaboration. Int J Oper Prod Manag 29:766–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stuart TE, Hoang H, Hybels RC (1999) Interorganizational endorsements and the performance of entrepreneurial ventures. Adm Sci Q 44:315–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Swafford PM, Ghosh S, Murthy N (2006) The antecedents of supply chain agility of a firm: scale development and model testing. J Oper Manag 24:170–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tenenhaus M, Vinzi VE, Chatelin Y-M, Lauro C (2005) PLS path modeling. Comput Stat Data Anal 48:159–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vivek SD, Banwet D, Shankar R (2008) Analysis of interactions among core, transaction and relationship-specific investments: the case of offshoring. J Oper Manag 26:180–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Whitehead KK, Zacharia ZG, Prater EL (2016) Absorptive capacity versus distributive capability: the asymmetry of knowledge transfer. Int J Oper Prod Manag 36:1308–1332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wiengarten F, Humphreys P, McKittrick A, Fynes B (2013) Investigating the impact of e-business applications on supply chain collaboration in the German automotive industry. Int J Oper Prod Manag 33:25–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Xu D, Huo B, Sun L (2014) Relationships between intra-organizational resources, supply chain integration and business performance: an extended resource-based view. Ind Manag Data Syst 114:1186–1206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Yamakawa Y, Yang H, Lin ZJ (2011) Exploration versus exploitation in alliance portfolio: performance implications of organizational, strategic, and environmental fit. Res Policy 40:287–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zacharia ZG, Nix NW, Lusch RF (2011) Capabilities that enhance outcomes of an episodic supply chain collaboration. J Oper Manag 29:591–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zahra SA, George G (2002) Absorptive capacity: a review, reconceptualization, and extension. Acad Manag Rev 27:185–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zhang Q, Vonderembse MA, Lim J-S (2003) Manufacturing flexibility: defining and analyzing relationships among competence, capability, and customer satisfaction. J Oper Manag 21:173–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zhao X, Lynch JG Jr, Chen Q (2010) Reconsidering baron and Kenny: myths and truths about mediation analysis. J Consum Res 37:197–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chung-Yean Chiang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark Hanna
    • 2
  • Zhenyu Liu
    • 3
  • Xiangyu Lu
    • 3
  1. 1.Johnson College of Business and EconomicsUniversity of South Carolina UpstateSpartanburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Logistics & Supply Chain ManagementGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA
  3. 3.Department of Management ScienceXiamen UniversityXiamenChina

Personalised recommendations