Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to empirically examine the impact of the level of cooperation in the supply chain on lean production (LP) adoption. The effect of the level of cooperation with both suppliers and customers with regards to the intensity of LP adoption is examined, as is the joint effect of cooperation and information integration with customers. Design/methodology/approach: Analysis is carried out on a sample of 84 manufacturing plants that are first tier suppliers to original equipment manufacturers in the Spanish automotive industry. Data were gathered from plant CEOs via a combination of regular mail, e-mail and internet-based survey methods. Data are analyzed using exploratory factor analysis and hierarchical regression. Findings: The results show that while greater levels of cooperation with suppliers do not impact on the intensity of LP adoption, greater levels of cooperation with customers do have a significant effect. Also, the greater the cooperation with customers and the more information integrated with them, the higher the intensity of LP adoption. Research limitations/implications: The findings stress the importance of having a holistic vision of the supply chain to explain the degree of LP adoption. Further developments include simultaneously studying the role of both information and physical flows along the supply chain in LP adoption, and analyzing the time lag that occurs between a company increasing cooperation with suppliers and customers, and progress being made in the intensity of LP adoption. Practical implications: Practitioners must be mindful that a greater level of cooperation with customers creates a favourable environment for increasing the intensity of adoption of LP. Originality/value: This paper contributes to research on the explanatory factors of LP adoption by adding new factors to explain it, including the level of cooperation between supply chain agents and the interaction of information integration and cooperation with customers. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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