International Journal of

Business & Management Studies

ISSN 2694-1430 (Print), ISSN 2694-1449 (Online)
DOI: 10.56734/ijbms
The Effects of Complexity and Coupling on Supply Chain Disruptions


Business executives have recently indicated that supply chain disruptions represent a major threat to their firm’s profitability and revenue growth (Smyrlis, 2006; Hendricks and Singhal, 2009).  In the literature, a number of conceptual studies have suggested that supply chain complexity is a main driver of supply chain disruptions (Choi & Krause, 2006; Christopher & Lee, 2004; Juettner et al., 2003). Other studies have suggested that the degree of coupling in the supply chain is a major determinant of supply chain disruptions (Agrawal and Nahimias, 1997; Ahuja, 2000).  Building on the theoretical foundation of Normal Accident Theory (NAT), this paper proposes a nuanced relationship between supply chain complexity and coupling and their collective impact on supply chain disruptions. Through an empirical examination, we seek to validate the theoretical proposition that complex, tightly coupled systems are inherently prone to failures or accidents. This study contributes significantly to the supply chain management discourse, providing a detailed analysis of the mechanisms underlying supply chain vulnerabilities and offering practical guidance for developing more resilient and responsive supply chain systems. Our findings invite future research to further explore the intricacies of supply chain disruptions, complexity, and coupling, aiming to refine and expand upon the mitigation strategies discussed herein.