Research Output
A Machiavellian behavioural framing of social conflict risks in supply chains
This conceptual paper aims to explore how supply chain managers deal with social threats to supply chains, in the process of demonstrating the potency of a largely neglected strand of realist social theory. This theory, as posited, sheds a great deal of light on the behavioural reality of how supply chain managers operate within the social aspects of their risk environments.

The paper is presented as a narrative synthesis of classical realist sociological literature.

The Machiavellian approach provides a template that can be used to help academics and practitioners understand how and why supply chain managers orient themselves to the social threats they confront in very different ways. The theory’s contention that the behavioural reality can be subdivided between two basic patterns allows it to serve as a constructively simple template for becoming attuned to ways in which supply chain managers socially construct and act within their social threat environments.

Research limitations/implications
The growing social complexity of supply chains gives behavioural responses a complexity reduction function. The authors theorise that such patterns, once activated, may not necessarily adapt rationally as guides to optimise the chance of success against the full range of social threats they are likely to encounter.

Cross-disciplinary supply chain management research is increasingly drawing upon sociology and behavioural science to facilitate greater understanding of not only the supply chain environment but also the roles of supply chain managers as relationship influencers and managers of conflict. The authors posit that Machiavellian–realist social theory can contribute to supply chain management scholarship by offering a constructively simple approach to evaluate the behavioural realities associated with social threats.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    12 June 2018

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  • DOI:


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  • Funders:

    Historic Funder (pre-Worktribe)


Marshall, A., Bashir, H., Ojiako, U., & Chipulu, M. (2018). A Machiavellian behavioural framing of social conflict risks in supply chains. Management Research Review, 41(11), 1290-1308.



Managers, Risk, Conflict, Machiavellianism, Realism, Analysis

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