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Supply chain agility responding to unprecedented changes: empirical evidence from the UK food supply chain during COVID-19 crisis

Do, Quynh Nhu; Mishra, Nishikant; Wulandhari, Nur Baiti Ingga; Ramudhin, Amar; Sivarajah, Uthayasankar; Milligan, Gavin


Quynh Nhu Do

Nur Baiti Ingga Wulandhari

Amar Ramudhin

Uthayasankar Sivarajah

Gavin Milligan


Purpose: The COVID-19 outbreak has imposed extensive shocks embracing all stages of the food supply chain (FSC). Although the magnitude is still unfolding, the FSC responds with remarkable speed, to mitigate the disruptive consequences and sustain operations. This paper aims to investigate how operationalising supply chain agility (SCA) practices has occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis and expectations for how those practices could transform the supply chain in the post-COVID-19 era. Design/methodology/approach: Following an exploratory case-based design, this paper examines the various agile responses that three supply chains (meat, fresh vegetables and bread) adopted and elaborate using the dynamic capability (DC) theoretical lens. Findings: First, the findings demonstrate how, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, each affected case pursued various agile responses through sensing and seizing capabilities. Sensing includes identifying and assessing the relevant opportunities and threats associated with the specific supply chain context. Seizing involves acquiring, combining and modifying the tangible and intangible resources at the firm and supply chain levels. Second, supply chain transformation is likely if firms and their supply chain develop the sustaining capability to ensure that the desirable changes outlast the crisis. Practical implications: This study provides an actionable guide for practitioners to develop agile responses to systemic changes in times of crisis and to sustain favourable changes so as to enable their outlasting of the crisis. Originality/value: This study provides a novel and unique perspective on the role of SCA in crisis – in this case, the pandemic. This paper synthesises the empirical stories of the agile responses in the FSC and elaborates on the DC framework, to identify theoretical and practical implications. This paper establishes the sustaining capability as the missing DC capability for enabling transformation in the post-COVID-19 era.


Do, Q. N., Mishra, N., Wulandhari, N. B. I., Ramudhin, A., Sivarajah, U., & Milligan, G. (2021). Supply chain agility responding to unprecedented changes: empirical evidence from the UK food supply chain during COVID-19 crisis. Supply chain management, 26(6), 737-752.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 24, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 23, 2021
Publication Date Sep 6, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 17, 2022
Journal Supply Chain Management
Print ISSN 1359-8546
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 6
Pages 737-752
Keywords Supply chain agility (SCA); Dynamic capability; COVID19 outbreak; Crisis management; Food supply chain
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Copyright Statement
This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact

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