Intellectual Capital, Supply Chain Learning, and Adaptability: A Comparative Investigation in China and the United States

Z. Wang (First Author), Xiande Zhao (Participant Author), T. Schoenherr (Participant Author), S. Zhang (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

10 Citations (Web of Science)


This article investigates the relationship between intellectual capital, supply chain learning, and supply chain adaptability. Specifically, relying on organizational learning theory, a research model is proposed linking intellectual capital (consisting of the trichotomy of human, organizational, and social capital), supply chain learning (consisting of supplier learning and customer learning) and supply chain adaptability. We scrutinize these relationships in two culturally-diverse contexts, China and USA, and develop hypotheses concerning the differences in the relative strengths of these relationships. Data from 300 Chinese and 229 USA manufacturers in high-tech industries are used to test these hypotheses. While the relationships are generally supported, especially insightful are the results where they differ between the two countries. While human capital is more important in influencing organizational capital in USA, social capital is more important in China. Social capital also plays a more significant role in influencing customer learning in China, while no statistical differences are detected in social capital's influence on supplier learning across the two countries. The divergence observed can be explained by the cultural differences between the two countries. Implications are provided for managers in both countries to improve supply chain adaptability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2738-2753
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2022

Corresponding author email

Project sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

Project No.



  • Companies
  • Cross-country comparison
  • Cultural differences
  • Supply chains
  • Knowledge management
  • Economics
  • Intellectual capital
  • Supply chain learning
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Supply chain adaptability

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A
  • SCIE
  • SSCI


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