Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





Matthew A. Waller

Committee Member

Adriana R. Hofer

Second Committee Member

Jeff Murray


Social sciences, Collaboration, Hermeneutics, Integration, Qualitative, Supply chain management


Collaboration has been a topic of discussion for over 20 years. Managers are consistently calling for better collaboration and researchers have argued that managing tightly coupled relationships creates a co-mingling of complementary competencies that establishes distinctive advantages for firms. Even though there have been a few exemplar companies that have been capable of truly developing these complementary competencies, few companies truly understand the dynamics of a collaborative capability. This dissertation reviews the theoretical conceptualization and operationalization of tightly coupled relationships and through an interpretive analysis, begins to provide clarity to the following questions:

* Under what conditions are tightly coupled relationship strategies justified?

* What are the elements that constitute effective relationship strategies?

* How can these elements be dynamically configured to deliver superior value and firm performance?

Essay 1 sets up the theoretical foundation for the dissertation through an in-depth review of the current collaboration/integration literature and delineates and summarizes contrasting dimensions in supply chain relational strategies. An orienting conceptual framework is developed to provide clear insights for the analysis that is conducted in essay 3. Essay 2 focuses on the ontological and epistemological aspects of hermeneutics and promotes the use of this methodology for future research in the supply chain field. Because this methodology is new to the supply chain field a full methodological guideline is described and explained. Through a hermeneutical analysis, Essay 3 evaluates the operationalization of tightly coupled relationships using interview data from a combination of 11 manufacturers and retailers who practice collaborative behavior. The literature review and the orienting conceptual framework from Essay 1 are used to set the stage for the hermeneutical analysis. From the analysis, a framework is developed for use in future research.