Responding to discontinuities in product-based service supply chains in the COVID-19 pandemic: Towards transilience

Elsevier, European Management Journal, Volume , 2022
Gatenholm G., Halldorsson A.
Purpose: In this study, we identify and characterise how organisations have responded, in ways ranging from restoration to radical change, to discontinuities in their product-based service (PBS) supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design/methodology/approach: Following a theoretical approach that integrates transilience and panarchy theory as a response strategy in PBS supply chains, our qualitative study involved collecting data through 19 semi-structured interviews at six manufacturing firms during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., March to August 2020) and triangulating the findings with the secondary data and that from an industry workshop. Following an inductive approach, we performed thematic data analysis in Nvivo software package. Findings: The findings suggest characterising discontinuities in PBS supply chains as unmanageable external supply-side, demand-side or interactional discontinuities or other manageable deliberate or forced organisational discontinuities. Following that characterisation, we developed a conceptual framework combing both resilience and transformation into new service opportunities. Research limitations/implications: We gained insights into the first-response abilities and ways of coping among manufacturing firms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though our findings capture a contemporary, eye-of-the-storm perspective on future directions, a longitudinal study on the pandemic could further validate and extend the modes of response that complement mitigation with the ability to accelerate change or innovation of internal process or external service offerings. Originality/value: Combining current literature with lessons learned from the firms' immediate responses, this paper's overview and characterisation of discontinuities following the COVID-19 outbreak in PBS supply chains demonstrate how manufacturing firms can foster transilience. As such, it integrates product-based supply chain discontinuities into the domain of service-based supply chains.